Start Spreading the News

February 28, 2012

New York City is at the forefront of nearly everything. It’s what gives the city its hubris, its energy, and its addictive appeal. So it isn’t surprising, that with a state history rooted in Rye and a recent loosening in the legal implications for start-up distilleries, we are witnessing a major scramble. It’s been next to nothing since the days of Prohibition, and there’s a lot of catching up to do. So if you weren’t a believer in the craft distillation boom, you won’t have to go much farther than a subway ride to see it for your self.

If you take a look at Kings County Distillery’s webpage, you might be surprised to find out they are the “oldest operating New York City distillery”. You might wonder why, the whiskey lover that you are, had never seen their simple and elegant flasks on your liquor store shelves. Well that’s because it wasn’t until 2010 that their stills got to work, tucked away in a tiny Williamsburg “warehouse” pumping out small (seriously tiny) batches of corn whiskey and 1 year aged bourbon. Do the math, and you’ll now understand why you’ve just recently started to see their bourbon for purchase. So does that mean their claim is BS?

Actually, not at all. Since Prohibition, the whiskey making in NYC was small batch in a different way. That is, in the illegal way. But in 2002 the state regulations for distillery start-ups started to loosen and after only a decade there are more and more players eager to get in the game. Take for example the NY Distilling Company situated just a stones throw from McCarren Park in Williamsburg. Already pumping out two brands of Gin and a NY Rye on the way, it’s only a matter of time for these newbies, to be the new staples at your local establishments.

But all of this means nothing, if the stuff doesn’t taste good, right?

So I picked up my first flask of the Kings County Bourbon the other day, and despite the price/size ratio which certainly isn’t the best bang for your buck, I have to say, I was pretty damn intrigued by this 1 year aged whiskey. For such a short aging process, the color and smoothness were really great. Plus I found it to have a mild spiciness which I tend to enjoy. In fact, if I had to guess (which I am because I couldn’t find the details), I would say there is a nice percentage of Rye in the mash contributing to the overall flavor. The founders are closing shop to re-open this spring in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and increasing production accordingly. A Nobler field trip is coming…

Just like a good whiskey, the NYC distillation scene is a development to keep our eyes on. As it ages I think we’ll start to see some fantastic complexity.



One comment

  1. […] of the last few posts have focused on the emergence of small batch American whiskey distilleries and the potential industry landscape that could develop over the next few decades. One of the major […]

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