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Brace Yourself for Williamsburg Moonshine

Brace Yourself for Williamsburg Moonshine

Restaurants & Institutions predicted that locavore liquor would be a 2010 trend, and boy, they weren’t kidding — in addition to the two Brooklyn distilleries we mentioned earlier, David Haskell (an editor at New York) and Colin Spoelman (a small-town Kentucky native who currently works at an architecture firm and has long been fascinated by the brown arts) are planning to start making and selling double-distilled whiskey, bourbon, and (oh yes!) moonshine, right in East Williamsburg.

They’ve already secured a studio space at 35 Meadow Street, and they’re hoping that in the coming weeks the State Liquor Authority will grant them a distilling license similar to the one trailblazer Tuthilltown Spirits received. After that, they’ll begin using brand-new charred-oak barrels (for bourbon) and recycled barrels (for whiskey), as well as 30-liter stills (significantly smaller than the industrial ones Spoelman saw in action during his tours of Kentucky manufacturers).

Spoelman says he realized the markup potential of moonshine some time ago, when he bought a $20 jug of it back home. Rest assured, his 80-proof, unaged corn whiskey will be more refined than anything in a jug or a mason jar (we’re looking at you, Georgia Moon). In fact, Spoelman prefers to compare his product to sake — he says it’ll be clean and light, with a bit more corn flavor (grains will eventually be sourced from a New York–state farm). The bourbon, meanwhile, will be on the sweet side (leaning closer to Woodford Reserve than to drier bourbons like Maker’s Mark), with a unique taste, thanks to its relatively short, two-month aging period. To ensure smoothness, only a small portion of the distilling run is used, and the nasty, bitter, first and last yields are discarded.

Once they have bottles similar to the one you see here (the final label must be submitted for approval), Kings County Distillery will begin distributing first to Williamsburg liquor stores (and perhaps partner with local restaurants) before branching out to the rest of Brooklyn. Eventually, they hope to have a storefront that will serve as a destination for tastings and the like. As for the price, the whiskey is expected to be cheaper than Tuthilltown, but “unfortunately, not dirt cheap.” Hey, this ain’t Appalachia.

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