THE TOWN OF TENINO has a rich and storied history colored by working-class heroes and plucky entrepreneurs. In 1888, two partners discovered a wealth of building-grade sandstone near the town. An industry-spurring flurry of economic growth occurred in the decades after.
It is in the same entrepreneurial spirit that John Bourdon founded Sandstone Distillery. Taking inspiration from his predecessors, he left his trucking business to pursue his dearest passion project: making small-batch, artisanal spirits. Six years on--and a handful of awards later--the distillery has forged a legacy. Variants of their vodka, gin and whiskey have all garnered national attention for their quality and craftsmanship.
But in the pandemic-centric economy of 2020, the distillery is notable for a different product: high-proof hand sanitizer.
Working around-the-clock, John and his wife, Jenni, and son, Justin, set out to combat nation-wide sanitizer shortages. Often, John would sleep for two hours at a time on a mattress set on the distillery floor. The hours-long process became the shop's sole mission. Using a recipe from the World Health Organization, the family made gallons of sanitizer--and distributed it to the community free of charge.
Soon, the community was donating money and supplies to the effort. Production ramped up with demand. The distillery's second act became a saving grace for a state in need.
Today, John and his family have opened their doors for tours and tastings. And underneath it all, there is a humor and humility. The Bourdons lead visitors through their shop with a generous and welcoming spirit. They're always quick to tell a story and offer an anecdote.
They're natural hosts with a knack for creating a convivial atmosphere reminiscent of America's rich, tavern culture. And they know what it means to be a part of Tenino's pioneering history. Moreover, they understand the important of family, service and community.