74
BEVERAGE MEDIA
September 2013
tail for several years: “We’ve seen an explo-
sion of various types of whiskies, gins, vod-
kas, and also the fruit brandies and liqueurs
that have historically been a hallmark of
New York distilling.” Also impressive: the
high level of interest from within the trade.
Some small distillers are earning spots in
portfolios marketed nationally. Others are
being welcomed by distributors oriented
toward wine or beer; New York Wine and
Spirits, for example, is a division of the dis-
tributor Manhattan Beer.
Industry City Distillery uses an elabo-
rate home-rigged distilling lab in the old
Bush Terminal in Brooklyn. Where com-
mercial distillers divide vodka into heads,
tails and hearts, ICD isolates 40 different
parts for the final blend, taking a refresh-
ing scientific approach to production.
Rockaways native Bridget Firtle was for-
merly in finance, where she analyzed dis-
tillers and brewers for a hedge fund. Her
business, The Noble Experiment NYC,
plays off a euphemism for Prohibition—
and her Owney’s Rum is named for a no-
torious Hell’s Kitchen bootlegger.
New York craft spirits are not necessar-
ily “better” than large brands, but that's OK
“We may be competing with big brands for
shelf space but we are intentionally devel-
oping spirits that are useful, profitable and
have a slightly different vantage point,”
says Allen Katz, co-founder of New York
Distilling Company. Also based in Brook-
lyn—and conveniently connected to the
Shanty, a full-service bar—NYDC cur-
rently has two gins in the market, each with
NYC angles. Dorothy Parker American
Gin is a mix-worthy
blend of traditional
and
contemporary
botanicals including
juniper and elderber-
ries, citrus, cinnamon,
and hibiscus. Perry’s
Tot (named for a
Commandant of the
Brooklyn Navy Yard
from 1841-’43) is an original Navy Strength
Gin at 57% ABV—ideal for the aficionado.
Next on their radar: rye whiskey.
Differentiation is important when sell-
ing any product. That sense of discover-
ing something new and different can be a
powerful driver. “I have been amazed with
the extent to which people are seeking new
tasting adventures,” says Atsby’s Ford.
It remains to be seen if the market
can sustain the ever-increasing num-
ber of local distilleries, but for now,
producers, restaurants, retailers and
spirits enthusiasts should relish the
notion that interest seems to be keep-
ing pace, which paints a bright picture
for the future.
Nobody knows this better than
Jim Silver, general manager at Empire
State Cellars. “Just two years ago [when
Empire State Cellars opened] we were
very concerned that we wouldn’t find
enough products to make a decent selec-
tion. Now we can’t find enough room
in the store for all of these wonderful
emerging products,” says Silver.
NY
SPIRTS
C R A F T
Adam Ford,
Atsby Vermouth
NY
EVERY WHICH WAY
BY W. R. TISH
N
ew York is brimming with upstart craft spirits. What they lack in legacy they
make up for in creativity, character and panache. Not only are they being cooked
up in our veritable backyard, but also they are being formulated with compelling
backstories and points of distinction. For the New York retailer, the combination of lo-
cal appeal and artisanal quality provides potent sales leverage.
BREUCKELEN DISTILLING
BROOKLYN
It’s all about being
hands-on—even
the labeling. They
use only New York
grown grains to
make two whiskies
(one from wheat,
the other from rye
and corn) and Glo-
rious Gin, which
starts with a base distilled from upstate
wheat, which is then “redistilled” with ju-
niper, lemon, rosemary, ginger and grape-
fruit.
brkdistilling.com
STILL THE ONE (COMB)
PORT CHESTER
This bare-bones warehouse distillery in
Westchester County was founded by
former Marine and finance pro Ed Tiedge,
who sold a 911 Porsche for start-
up funds. The Comb (as in hon-
eycomb) spirits—Comb Vodka,
Comb 9 Gin, Comb White Spirit
and Comb Blossom brandy—are
distilled from “honey wine”
(mead) rather than from grains
and fruits. Rapid local success
led to the brand to be picked up
for distribution by Vias Imports.
combvodka.com
C R A F T S
New York Distilling Company's
Perry's Tot and Dorothy Parker
American Gin; co-founder
Allen Katz (below)
1...,64,65,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,73 75,76,77,78,79,80,81,82,83,84,...120