Business briefs


Port Chilkoot distillery now producing gin

The Port Chilkoot Distillery of Haines has issued its first batch of gin, as 500 bottles were recently shipped statewide.

According to company co-owner and head distiller Heather Shade, “Fifty Fathoms Gin” is made in the tradition of the London dry style: Bold, slightly spicy, with a sweet, citrus finish and a hint of spruce tip and salt.

“Every gin is very different,” Shade said. “There’s a lot of creative ways to make it. This is a style unique to Southeast Alaska.” Her recipe includes juniper berries, four herbs and spices, local spruce tips, and tangerines grown by her father, Darrell Shade, in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

“People are into gin right now because they’re all unique and special and the recipes are secretly guarded. I can see us making a different type (of gin) in the future, because I think this is going to be popular. It tastes good by itself,” Shade said.

The gin, named in tribute to commercial fishermen, joins the company’s vodka, issued in October, and moonshine, released in December. “Now we have a whole product line,” Shade said. Besides liquor stores statewide, the company’s liquors will be available at Princess lodges this year.

One of five distilleries in the state, the local company is part of a current lobbying effort aimed at changing state law to allow distilleries to offer three ounces in samples on-site. The distillery recently filled 12, 25-gallon oak barrels with bourbon whiskey. Whiskey should be ready for bottling in two years.


Hedden starts own Chilkat rafting tour

Haines Rafting Co. is offering small, custom raft trips of the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve as well as van trips into Canada.

Company owner Andy Hedden, a 20-year-guide who previously worked as director of operations for Chilkat Guides, is partnering with his father, David Hedden, in the operation. He said he’s marketing his trips to “higher-end clientele who want a unique experience more than they want a discount.”

His half-day and full-day trips, including combinations with flightseeing, are available by appointment. Trips will include along the Chilkat, Tsirku and Klehini rivers. “We’re offering a more personalized trip with smaller volumes and a more intimate experience than what large trips do now.”

He expects his primary clients will be a mix of independent travelers based in Haines or cruise passengers looking for a more private or smaller trip. “We’ll go where the wildlife is, where the eagles are and where the weather is. We’ll go where the experience is best. Because we’re small and self-contained, we’ll have the flexibility to explore different areas.”

“I expect word-of-mouth will be my strongest advertising this year. We’ll fit in local vendors on (familiarization) trips this year when there’s space available,” Hedden said.

Hedden expects to be running by May 5. The company can be reached at or at 314-0340.


Selkie Design offers knitwear, 'Babytufs'

Genny Szymanski makes and sells knit hats and scarves, jewelry and homemade, soy candles through her Haines-based company, Selkie Design, but her most famous product is the Babytuf, the baby bootie knitted in the shape and colors of Xtratuf boots.

She’s sold hundreds of pairs of the soft, acrylic booties in the past three years. A lifetime knitter, Szymanski landed on the idea after seeing a pattern for baby galoshes. “I like things that are little. I saw a pattern for baby galoshes and I thought they would look good in an Xtratuf design.” The brown and yellow booties sell at locations in Haines, Juneau, Skagway and Whitehorse, Y.T.

Szymanski said she makes her knit products with the highest-quality yarn. They are generally aimed at young women. “I feel it’s for my peer group: Young, active ladies, but I also can make hats and scarves in neutral colors for men.” All her scarf patterns are original, and she also makes recycled glass jewelry, she said.

Szymanski grew up in Haines, making soaps and postcards sold at businesses her family operated. She said she’s moving into her own studio.

Besides at Haines Packing Co. cannery at Letnikof Cove in Haines, Selkie Design products are available at,, and through the handmade-goods website Etsy. The company can be reached at 314-0467.




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