Connect with us

New York City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery makes only 6 gallons a day



A strong smell of alcohol permeates this aging building in Brooklyn, a New York City borough famous more for hot dogs and handcrafted bagels than for Kentucky-style whiskey.

It is in this up-and-coming section of New York, across the East River from Manhattan, where Kings County Distillery produces the amber-colored elixir said to put hair on the chest and a burn in the throat.


Although scarcely two years old, Kings County Distillery has the distinction of being the city’s oldest operating whiskey distillery.

It is the first such facility to open since the strict Prohibition laws which outlawed the sale and consumption of alcohol were repealed across most of the United States in 1933.

The distillery’s award-winning, hand-crafted bourbon is produced in a 113-year-old renovated brick building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The modest whiskey factory is the brainchild of old college buddies Colin Spoelman and David Haskell, who took on the project as something of a lark.

They now see it a part-time passion — and possibly future full-time vocation — as their New York brand of bourbon gains popularity in bars, liquor stores and restaurants around the region.


Spoelman and Haskell, who are in their 30s, were classmates at Yale University in Connecticut and shared an apartment in New York City after college.

They were surprised that there was no established tradition of distilling one’s own bourbon in a city where young professionals are known to enjoy bar-hopping.

“We thought, ‘New York loves the drink but no one makes one. That’s weird!” Haskell said.


Spoelman, meanwhile, said he was no stranger to home-distilled whiskey.

“I grew up in Kentucky, a state known for its bourbon, but where Prohibition was never repealed,” said Spoelman, referring to the strict US temperance laws that were struck down elsewhere in the United States in 1933.


The bootleg alcohol trade in Kentucky spawned a tradition of home-made spirits — popularly known as “moonshine” because it often was produced secretly in the woods, after nightfall.

Haskell and Spoelman, after deciding to produce their own whiskey, spent six months doing research and testing the results.

The entrepreneurial duo eventually developed a satisfactory product, concocted from a recipe with a distinctive pedigree.


“It’s a recipe similar to the one used in George Washington’s distillery at Mount Vernon,” Haskell boasted.

They undertook their project just as New York was trying to relax its old laws on spirits and encourage the creation of distilleries. The two friends seized the opportunity and obtained a license to operate their business in April 2010.

Haskell and Spoelman started out by installing a few small stills in their New York studio apartment.

A year later, the Brooklyn Navy Yard offered them a lease in the aging brick building that once housed an accounting office for shipyard workers, and later became a garment factory run by Hasidic Jews.


Today, four large silver stills hum away inside the facility, releasing a steady drip — about six gallons (23 liters) each day — of whiskey.

Spoelman and Haskell said they have begun to experiment with their recipe, and have even begun to produce chocolate-flavored whiskey.

The distillery, which operates seven days a week, from 9:00 am until midnight and employs a part-time staff of about a dozen workers, also doubles as a museum dedicated to the art of distilling.

Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
Continue Reading


First test of Virgin Orbit rocket fails to accomplish goal



The first test launch of a rocket that is released from a jumbo jet at 35,000 feet and then propels itself into orbit to deploy a satellite failed on Monday, the Virgin Orbit company said.

"The mission terminated shortly into the flight. Cosmic Girl and our flight crew are safe and returning to base," Virgin Orbit's Twitter account reported as the test was underway off the coast of California.

The plane released the rocket cleanly, but the latter developed trouble of unknown origin after igniting its first-stage engine, the company said.

Founded by British billionaire Richard Branson in 2012, Virgin Orbit wants to offer a quick and flexible launch service for operators of small satellites, weighing between 300 and 500 kilos (600 to 1,00 pounds), a market which is currently booming.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump adviser’s ‘repugnant’ lack of concern for human life slammed by ethics expert



On Monday, President Donald Trump's economic adviser Kevin Hassett appeared on CNN to urge the economy to reopen, saying, "Our human capital stock is ready to go back to work."

White House adviser Kevin Hassett: "Our human capital stock is ready to go back to work." #HumanCapitalStock pic.twitter.com/Yl9KwJf6KP

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 25, 2020

Continue Reading


Trump uses Memorial Day to attack Biden and recycle old lies about his coronavirus response



NYT: "At Least 430,000 People Have Arrived in the United States on Direct Flights From China"

President Donald Trump used the occasion of the Memorial Day holiday to recycle old, debunked lies about his likely Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

In a tweet Trump made several accusations, none of them are true.

Sleepy Joe Biden (mostly his reps.) went crazy when I banned, in late January, people coming in from China. He called me “xenophobic” & then went equally “nuts” when we let in 44,000 people - until he was told they were American citizens coming home. He later apologized!

Continue Reading
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.