Breuckelen is the spelling for the former Dutch settlement that is now Brooklyn, NY, and the creative hub where the first gin distiller in the borough since Prohibition took his inspiration.
After being made redundant in 2008, Master Distiller and former bond trader, Brad Estabrooke found a growing desire to start his own business. Inspired by other artisans in the area and the burgeoning craft distilling movement staring him in the face, he took the leap and after a year and a half of construction, he began crafting whisky and gin in the summer of 2010.
It wasn’t all plain sailing however, the name Breuckelen gave rise to a legal battle with Brooklyn Gin in 2011. Joe Santos, the owner of patent rights to ‘Brooklyn Gin‘ was enraged when he discovered Estabrooke’s gin was phonetically called ‘Breuckelen‘. Ironically, Brooklyn Gin is not actually made in Brooklyn, but rather at Warwick Valley Winery in Warwick, NY, meaning they both had good reason to feel that the other was in the wrong and that each had the moral right to call their product variations on “Brooklyn” gin. The matter seems to have been settled now and Estabrooke modestly named Breuckelen Distillery’s Gin Glorious Gin, presumably as part of the Brooklyn / Breuckelen Gin legal compromise.
The Breuckelen Distillery, is homed in a 2,500 square-foot garage that once was a boiler room in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. With help from his family and friends, Estabrooke managed to club together a healthy 6 figure financial investment. All that was left to master was the skill and knowledge of how to make spirits, which he gained through reading books, a course at Kothe, interviews with other distillers and plenty of experimentation. The entire production is now made from start to finish, including milling, mashing, fermenting, maturing, filling and labelling. There is no doubt that Estabrooke’s production method is much more expensive and labour intensive.
Given he is one of a half dozen or so ex-bankers to have set up a distillery since 2005 (Greenhook Ginsmiths, Bulldog to name a couple), is it a part of the American banking institute to a hotbed inadvertently nurturing the next generation craft distillers?
The botanicals in Glorious Gin include juniper, lemon, rosemary, ginger and grapefruit. The process begins with the neutral wheat spirit, that he makes from scratch, being distilled with each botanical through an individual run in a 400 litre Ulrich Kothe still. The distillates are then hand-blended together and before being bottled are cut down with NYC tap water. This method sounds rather lengthy, but allegedly it enables each of the botanicals qualities to be fully captured as each distillation can be run at different temperatures, with different hearts cut and macerating times. The result leans more towards a new American style of gin – with less juniper in the mix and a highly aromatic bouquet of spice and citrus.
Breuckelen Gin to taste…
Glorious Gin has a pronounced juniper on the nose, with a strong herbal and fruity feature, maybe rosemary, with a more discreet lemon hit. To taste, herbs come to the fore, playing along with the juniper and citrus. It finishes with a strong, spicy ginger finish.
In late 2013 Breuckelen launched a barrel rested gin. After two years of paper work and talks with regulators, Breuckelen were finally able to launch their gin that had rested in American oak. However, they were not permitted to call it aged, so it has taken the name ‘oaked gin’. We haven’t tasted it yet but will write a review on it once we have. No doubt, this will not be the last gin to come from the Breuckelen team – With their whisky gaining popularity and two gins under their belt, we can expect that we will see much more from this distillery.
The bottle design was created by design agency I Love Dust and features rounded glass with squared shoulders, a monochrome label silkscreen printed directly onto the glass that gives it a premium feel. The black wax seal and cork stopper showcases it’s handcrafted nature. Curiously on the back of the bottle is a Boston Terrier, which we discovered is dedicated to their foster dog that spends most days in the distillery.
Estabrooke should be commended for his determination to set up a distillery in the city he was inspired by, to create a gin with integrity using locally sourced ingredients with a handmade neutral spirit base. Sticking to this grain to glass method of production must be costly and highly labour intensive, but it has clearly paid off.
For more information about Breuckelen Glorious Gin, visit their website: brkdistilling.com
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