This is the very cool Kings County Distillery located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Kings County Distillery (KCD) is the oldest operating distillery in New York City, a rather toungue-in-cheek distinction as it has been operating for slightly less than 4 years.
As they explain on their tours (every Saturday) when Prohibition ended most states still heavily restricted the distilling of spirits, as it was associated with Gangsters and the temperance movement still had some political power. That’s the main reason most bourbon today is made in Kentucky. It’s not because Kentucky is the best or only place to make it, it’s just that Kentucky created more liberty for distillers than most other states.
But a few years ago New York took some limited but necessary steps to create more freedom, a rare thing in this state these days. KCD was the first to open up in the City.* If you ever have a chance to visit, or to take a tour at another micro-distillery, I recommend you do so, even if you don’t drink much whiskey. I’m sure different tour guides and distilleries emphasize different things, but there’s legal history, social history, science, and a hand-on experience, and if you do drink, a tasting at the end. I was pretty lucky as my tour was given by Nicole Austin, the master blender at the plant.
We were given three small samples, “moonshine,” straight bourbon, and a chocolate-flavored bourbon which they admitted was an experimental work in progress. The moonshine was simply whiskey straight from the distiller and not aged for even a moment in a barrel. I found the moonshine a bit much for my taste but bought a small bottle of both the bourbon and the chocolate bourbon, which I’ll show off tomorrow.
My visit was part of a Drink and Click NYC event. Drink and Click has chapters scattered across the country. The basic pattern of a Drink and Click event is that folks meet in a bar, take pictures, walk and take more pictures until it’s time to stop in another bar, and so on. Visiting a distillery was a natural fit. The shot above is the building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that houses KCD and all of its operations, taken right after our tour. I meant to get a shot with no one in it, but this fellow poked his head out just as I clicked and I liked the result.
I shot everything during the tour with either the Fuji X-E1 and its lovely 35mm lens, or my Minolta SRT-202 with Ilford Delta 400. So everything was at roughly the same focal length, but different looks I’m sure. I’ll post some of the film shots when they are developed.
Finally, KCD published a cool-looking book called The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey which you can check out and buy at the link.
* The tour guide was a bit coy and careful with her claims on this point, and I’m pretty sure that KCD was not the first to open in New York State, although she kind of tried to leave that impression without drawing attention to it.