The silver lining (well, bright green to be accurate) in the Wall Street collapse.
Greenhook Ginsmiths was officially launched in 2012, but Steven DeAngelo, Greenhook‘s founder and distiller, had put the wheels in motion after the recession hit in 2008. The distillery is based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY and run by Steven and his brother Phillip DeAngelo. Gin was never Steven’s original career path and it wasn’t until his ambitions outgrew the likes of Wall Street (after it collapsed like a house of cards post Lehman’s) that he turned instead to distilling his favourite spirit, gin.
As with any craft distillery, there were several hurdles for the brothers to overcome. Location, permits (or licenses as us Brits like to call it), zones and refurbishments all took several long months of hard work to achieve and complete. At the time of writing, Greenhook is still very much a family run business with many of DeAngelo’s relatives helping out during the distilling process that happens every Sunday. Steven combined the experience and business savvy edge gained during his years in the banking industry to help forge strong relationships and win important accounts across the state of New York to cement Greenhook‘s presence.
Now moving on to the gins and the distillation process. Greenhook use a 300 litre Copper Alembic still which has been specifically engineered to work under Mercury vacuum to reduce atmospheric pressure within the still. What is Mercury vacuum you say? Mercury vacuum is a specific type of vacuum designed to extract volatile contaminants, such as Mercury, from liquids under a controlled environment. In this case, no Mercury is being processed out of the spirit but instead the properties of the vacuum are used to lower the air pressure in the still causing the temperature to drop. Achieving this lower temperature is a good thing since botanicals are often fragile and can break easily under the stress caused from higher temperatures. When done well, this results in botanicals releasing more flavour and aroma – very desirable when making gin.
Greenhook Ginsmiths have released an American Dry Gin which includes botanicals such as Tuscan juniper, organic elderflower & chamomile and Ceylon cinnamon. The emphasis on organic botanicals is a good fit for their Brooklyn audience, but we are a little surprised to see that neither the juniper nor the cinnamon, two crucial elements in their gin, are organic. Why go organic for half the ingredients but not the others, especially such vital parts? Perhaps we misunderstood, and to a large extent it’s inconsequential as the gin itself is both smooth and vibrant. To the nose, juniper and cinnamon come through with hints of chamomile. Tasting it straight Juniper and cinnamon come to the fore, with a greener, parsley like flavour from the chamomile and elderflower emerging in time (and even more apparent when mixed in with tonic). The floral notes lighten the gin and help give it an fresh, aromatic and full flavour. It’s worth reiterating that Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin has very a smooth taste for a gin bottled at 47% ABV. Many at a similar proof or higher don’t achieve this.
Not content with just having a gin on the market, the team decided to expand their portfolio with a gin based liqueur. The Beach Plum Gin Liqueur is Greenhook’s answer to the UK’s Sloe Gin. Greenhook‘s intention was initially to create a quintessential British Sloe Gin, but sloe berries are not indigenous to the US. The wild sloe berries found on the hedgerows of Britain are harvested by local farmers with little way for freezing and transporting them overseas. DeAngelo was made aware of this and therefore pursued an alternate path, which ultimately lead him to Beach Plums. Through research he found Long Island Plums were a close botanical relative to that of sloes. The plums are macerated in the spirit for 7 months, once removed, turbinado sugar is added for sweetness and the final product is finally filtered to remove any unwanted fruit debris. The finished product is interesting and noticeably different, almost as if it were a half way house between a Sloe Gin (with marzipan and almond notes) and a Summer Fruit Cup (fruity and sweet). As such, we see it working better during the summer months when sitting on the Cape mixing up a few Beach Plum Cups.
Greenhook bottle an average of 50,000 cases a year and are planning on releasing an Old Tom Gin and more seasonal products. This is quite an astonishing feat to have reached in such a short period of time and undoubtedly places the Greenhook Ginsmiths story right up there in the all time inspirational success stories. Leaving one career to go into another and using the knowledge gained along the way to make it a success is commendable. Working with family and delivering a different product is admirable. However, combining the understanding of distilling, permit navigating, finding a route to market, PR and growing a business is hugely impressive. In doing so, DeAngelo is not just living the American dream, but a much bigger one, universal to all who want to create artisanal products. One can only sit back and applaud the hard earned success. We look forward to seeing them grow over the coming years and revisiting them as their new products are released.
For more information about Greenhook Ginsmiths Gin, visit their website: greenhookgin.com
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