Thursday, July 29, 2010

Breuckelen Distilling Company Starts Selling Booze Early; Plans Winter Gin

Last we checked in with Sunset Park's Breuckelen Distilling, they were set to roll out their new gin—the first gin made in Brooklyn since Prohibition—on Aug. 1. But a quick call by distiller Brad Estabrooke to the state liquor authority—in which he discovered he was good to go, as far as the state was concerned—resulted in the bottles going out a few days earlier that expected. One liquor store in Long Island already has the stuff, and NYC shops Thirst Wine Merchants, UVA Wine and Spirits and Dry Dock will be carrying it soon.

Aside from being a Brooklyn-produced gin, Estabrooke's enterprise is unique in other ways. For one, he makes his own neutral spirit (which he calls "wheat spirit," because it's distilled from New York State wheat and he endeavors to retain much of the flavor the wheat imparts), using a column still he had made in Germany. Most gin makers buy their neutral spirit elsewhere. Estabrooke also distills each component of his botanical recipe (juniper, lemon peel, grapefruit peel, rosemary and ginger) separately, and then blends the results, much as a winemaker might. It is a small-batch process; each distilling run produces about 65 bottles.

The flavor of the wheat spirit definitely comes through in the finished product, leading to a gin that is more savory, sweet and chewy than a London dry gin, while not being quite in the genever territory—though the very pungent, aromatic nose has a lot in common with Dutch gin. Of the botanicals, the juniper and ginger shine most brightly on the palate, and there is a peppery, slightly hot finish. The wheat lends a somewhat butterscotch-like foundation. (The wheat spirits tasted along is eerily similar to Death Door's fine wheat whiskey.) It performed rather nicely in a G&T. I've yet to test it in a Martini.

Estabrooke has additional plans for the future. He said he's thinking of released a limited-edition winter gin this fall, which would employ different botanicals such as nutmeg, vanilla, allspice and tea.

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