In the shadow of their barrel throne in the 110-year old Paymaster Building at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, master distillers Colin Spoelman and David Haskell are working tirelessly to produce hand-crafted bourbon and moonshine. Together, they founded Kings County Distillery, the first distillery located in New York City since Prohibition and the producer of award-winning craft spirits.
Life at Kings County Distillery is simple. Spoelman and Haskell use a chalkboard to keep track of batches, mesh laundry bags to strain their sourmash, and an ordinary hair dryer to apply the plastic seal to each bottle cap. They even print the labels for each of their flask-shaped bottles using an abandoned typewriter they found sitting on the sidewalk.
Made with only the finest, organic cracked corn from the Finger Lakes region and a dash of malted Scottish barley, every drop of Kings County Moonshine and Kings County Bourbon is double pot-distilled. Haskell and Spoelman use the head — the first alcohol produced from each batch — as a disinfectant and sell the used sourmash to a pig farmer who uses it as feed. “I still don’t understand why it doesn’t make the pigs drunk,” Haskell says. Aged for over a year in charred, new oak barrels, Kings County Bourbon has notes of cinnamon and caramel that balance a hint of cloves. Similarly smooth, Kings County Moonshine is mellow and also slightly sweet (by hector). Spoelman and Haskell's moonshine won “Best in Category” for corn whiskey at the 2011 American Distilling Institute’s Craft Spirits Conference and their bourbon won a bronze medal at the 2012 Conference.
Kings County Distillery currently produces only about 100 gallons of moonshine and 150 gallons of bourbon a month. “We make enough to supply some of Brooklyn, some of Manhattan and that’s about it,” Spoelman says. After visiting their distillery, we bamboozled them into sharing their juice with the rest of the country. Now you can try both of Kings County's whiskeys with the the Kings County Duo, featured on Caskers.
Check out some pictures from our visit: