Dear curious reader,
Opening the ball of the urban distilleries report series is the VAN BRUNT STILLHOUSE, based in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It is surprisingly easy to find the distillery in this hard to reach by public transport area : it is just behind Ikea. Should you not have a car : take the Ikea shuttle, not only will you have the chance to see the Statue of Liberty one more time but you will be brought very close to you real destination.
On a beautiful late summer day, I met with Daniel, the most enthusiastic and warm welcoming distiller. He found the time to bring me through the distillery and every steps of the distillation process. Let’s start !
The distillery was created in 2012 by Daric Schlesselman who works at the Daily show. The first product was a Due North Rum, which I didn't get to taste as our conversation focused on Whiskeys during my visit.
Why "Van Brunt" ? Cornelius Van Brunt was one of the founding fathers of Breukelen (which became Brooklyn). He farmed the land along the Gowanus Creek (close to Red Hook)
The distillery is on the first floor/ground floor of a industry building. It is rather compact, the maturation barrels area, the bar and the distillery area must occupy around 100 sq meters.
The grain is coming at 85/90% from a farm in Finger Lakes.. Remember our last post ? It is a compulsory factor when you operate under a New York Farmer's Distilling License to have at least 75% of the grain coming from New York State.
When the grain arrives, the first step is milling. It will create the grist.
How do they proceed ? First the grains are weighed, then milled (separately) and then ground in the grain hopper located outside (see picture on the right side above).
They use 1 ton of grains per batch, the weigh is important because the recipe is done by weight and not by volume.
Corn is smoked before being ground, in the little oven trays below before undergoing the same process as above.
When the conversion is over, the wort is pumped into the fermentation tank below. It is when yeast are added (they seem to develop their own strain of yeast, but use commercial ones too). The mash/wort is cooled down to allow yeast culture to develop.
When the whiskeys are considered ready by the master blender, it will be dilluted (filered Brooklyn tap water) and bottled.
some extra !
what's in it ??
AMERICAN WHISKEY 30% malted barley, 30% wheat, 15 % rye, 15% corn
RYE 75% rye, 25 % malted barley
SINGLE MALT 100 % malted barley
BOURBON 65% corn, 20 % wheat, 5% rye