A local Juneau Tastemaker, Brandon Howard puts a great deal of thought into the things he curates for his and his wife's business, Amalga Distillery. We knew we could count on him to choose creative and useful gifts for this gift guide. Here's what he had to say about the collection:
It can be really hard to put something together in here cause I don’t have a ton of time to cruise and browse and I forget how many great objects there are in here and I want pretty much everything. Theme of nice things I enjoy having. Things that would make my home better since I spend a lot of time there these days.
KP: What do you do by day and what do you do by night?
BH: By day I am a stay at home dad hanging out with my toddler who is 2.5 years old. By night “afternoon” I am doing all the housekeeping and background stuff for Amalga Distillery. Getting to make whiskey. The credit for the gin goes to my wife, she’s definitely the boss lady of amalga distillery.
KP: Describe a recent ‘a-ha’ moment or precious moment.
BH: When you live with a toddler, it’s like a daily thing. There are like constant ridiculously adorable and precious. It was about a month ago, we got a puppy a while ago (classic pandemic puppy right?) People thought we are crazy for having a puppy while having a toddler. We were hoping the puppy and child would have fun and entertain each other. And it it definitely a ruckus, right? The other day they were both running around being absolutely crazy together and they both jumped on the couch and they instantly cuddled each other and my toddler let me know that “willow june (dog) is my best friend”. Like for one: How did you know the phrase best friend? I don’t walk around talking about best friends! Like where did you even pick that up? But also, wow this is exactly what I was hoping for! The precious moments are just constant though. I’m like floating through this ridiculously precious life with a toddler and a puppy.
KP: What are you looking forward to in 2022?
BH: I’m excited to, as we kinda adjust to the constant changes of navigating a global pandemic, I’m really excited to start working on my own art again outside the distillery as well as new projects that I think would be really cool for the community. I used to make pots and I miss it, I miss it a lot. I think a big thing we wanted when we opened the distillery, was to hold a space for artists. Like pre-pandemic we used to host first fridays. Actually that’s the thing I’m really looking forward to in 2022: creating a more focused space in our business for showing art.
My Chemex is one of my favorite things. Already uses a chemex and it is definitely the best way to make coffee, hands down. You can’t get a cleaner cup of coffee. The French press is hard to nail. Chemex is fast and easy and great 100% of the time. It changed coffee for me. Didn’t realize how many flavor notes there really were. There’s enough filters to last you a while. You only need 4 boxes a year.
I've been eying these for a long time. They are simple and beautiful. The chemex and these mugs are unobtrusive and these are beautiful on a counter space. Stack nicely, good in hand, look beautiful, nice texture.
My number one pen is the horizon. Nervous clicker - this is for you. Also is the finest pen, so you can write super small in documents that are way too small to write in. Horizon doesn't smear on write in the rain paper, WHEN ITS NOT RAINING. Rifle - really likes floral prints. This is a good sit down and write in a notebook or a letter kind of pen. Leisure pen. Good pens make the experience of writing better. The smoothest, great heft, works really really well. HOWEVER DOES NOT WORK WELL IN WRITE IN THE RAIN.
I prefer the blank paper moleskine. A lot of times I’m a loose sketch doodle while writing down notes kind of person, not having lines helps with that. Lots of times I’m doing measurements for things at the distillery. Lineless = versatility. No offense to people who love lined notebooks but the lines are just a little too far apart in moleskine for him to like it.
Not a sweets for dessert person, but sweets with coffee. Early afternoon coffee, late morning coffee. When the cookbooks are pretty, I reach for them more. It helps when the book pulls you in because you want to flip through it and browse it. The prettier the cookbook, the more often me and my wife end up using it. People putting together cookbooks must put in a lot of thought into how cookbooks are made. The recipes in this book look incredible. The dense fernet cake drew him in. Between the recipe, and plenty of white space, and nice picture, he really loves this book.
I was never a candle person until my wife came along. Has not come across a bad scent with this company. None of them are perfume-y. It’s not your typical yankee candle. These redeemed scented candles for me. They contribute to a space instead of just being a candle.
I can’t come into KP without picking up some little KP flavor. The enamel pins are just a sweet reminder of how cool it is to have a community focused post office like this, combined with reminders like SJH, that pin, that hoodie, has been insanely important for so many people with everything that has happened the last couple of years. I picked radical softness because it’s the one I don’t have. I like the juxtaposition of radical softness. KP is so welcoming and so warm but it has never compromised values for the way it presents and advocates. You can be radical and welcoming and warm and inclusive.
They are just like beautiful and so unique and made by a local artist and it is one of his wife’s favorites. They are definitely one of my favorite pairs of earrings to see on my wife.