At a glance it would be all too easy to see New York Distilling Company’s two gin releases as simply part of the ongoing wave of new craft distilleries and yet another example of this surge in micro-made spirits. However, what they have made and what they are doing deserves much, much more attention.
In a 5,000 square-foot Williamsburg warehouse in Brooklyn (the corner of Lorimer and Richardson), sits the recently constructed New York Distilling Company HQ. The story has many starting points depending on who you talk to in the small team, but the reasons as to why they ended up involved with the creation of two new gins is solid. Amongst other things – Allen Katz was the former Slow Food USA chairman and a cocktail historian while Tom Potter launched Brooklyn Brewery. We won’t go into all the details, but suffice it to say while these guys may be coming at it from different places and with different journeys they know their gin from their genever and are passionate…
The idea of setting up a distillery in Brooklyn is not as new as one might think. Some of the earliest distilleries in Brooklyn reputedly date back to the 1700′s. During Prohibition, there were supposedly ten’s of thousands of illicit stills in New York City itself. However, while not wanting to take anything away from the team at Breuckelen or Hudson, New York Distilling Company’s distillery has to be one of the most interesting we’ve come across in a long time. The distillery has a special farm distiller’s license from New York State that allows it to run a bar — granted because 100 percent of the grains used for its rye whiskey will come from New York farmers. This bar is called The Shanty, which we refer to on several occasions below…
The initial intention for the then three man New York Distilling Company team was to create one gin, but during the development, whilst the various recipes were being considered, the team decided that although different, there were two recipes they could develop further and therefore decided to create two gins. They were not intended as a pair or as a contrast, merely as two great gins that both deserved to be made as they stood up to inspection and most importantly, in their eyes, both brought something new to the wider gin category.
One of these gins was named Dorothy Parker and it is billed as an American Gin. Not in the sense that it is trying to be a non-traditional gin, different and on the edge of the category’s flavour map and therefore deserving of a different classification, it is merely named for the purpose of provenance. Named after the famous New York writer Dorothy Parker – a renowned gin soak – the gin reflects her unique biting humour and unconventionality.
“I like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host.” – Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker Gin is juniper forward with floral notes surrounding it on the nose and on the palate, at which point it’s joined by more earthy elements. It may sound strange to say this given each gin on the market is supposed to be different to the one beside it, however there are usually familiarities between them. It’s often possible to say “a bit like xxxx but with more citrus” for example. Dorothy Parker stands alone and we were impressed by this. It is by all accounts different. You’re in familiar gin territory with its punchy juniper flavours, but elderberries, dried hibiscus petals, cinnamon and citrus take it off in a delicate, floral direction. It’s not traditional but neither is it “New Western” or whatever term one likes to call modern takes on gin. It’s a modern gin, but not at the expense of the spirit’s heritage, both classic and contemporary in equal measure.
Putting it through its paces, Dorothy Parker works well in a G&T, refreshing and floral but not too delicate to be drowned out by the tonic. It’s a good gin for an Aviation and delicious in a Bees Knees too. If you see it on the back bar, give it a try.
It’s hard to see how New York Distilling Co won’t be a run-away success. A quick look at the CV of the creators show the deep knowledge and know-how to manage distilleries, serve great drinks as well as a long history that demonstrates a passion for the food and drink industry, these elements are all in evidence when you visit. In interviews, Allen Katz talks frequently about wanting to add something to the conversation and producing something that wasn’t out there on the market – and in our opinion they’ve achieved that and have interesting gins as a result.
They have managed to create two unique gins, a fantastic bar and are on the road to making other spirits including a Rye and potentially an Old Tom Gin. However, with craft distilling maintaining its appeal as more consumers search out for the stories behind product – New York Distilling Co’s biggest asset is provenance and accessibility. Their commitment to using sustainably produced ingredients in all of their spirits and whenever possible to feature grains and other ingredients grown in New York State is admirable and goes a long way in demonstrating just how much provenance is important to them too. Just like the London-based Sipsmith, it’s easy to walk into the distillery, see what’s going on and talk to the team. However, if you do so at The Shanty, expect to be served a mean cocktail whilst you daydream of what might just be possible…
For more information about New York Distilling, visit their website: www.nydistilling.com
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