Kings of moonshine

Since the time of its founding in the 1700s Brooklyn was home to thousands of distilleries, but not a single one remained after the prohibition era of the 1920s. Putting an end to that streak are Colin Spoelman and David Haskell of Williamsburg-based Kings County Distillery, purveyors of small, hand-crafted batches of bourbon and whiskey. Neither Colin nor David have any distillery experience – unless you count growing up in Kentucky or having a great-grandfather who made whiskey during prohibition – but that didn’t stop them from turning what began as a hobby into a business of their own.

“Most things are better when they aren’t made in a factory, and whiskey is no different,” Spoelman explains, and their microdistillery uses some of the smallest stills around, “closer to artisanal stills that are traditional to Kentucky and offer a different kind of control over the process. Ours are specifically designed for whiskey. Every drop will be double pot-distilled and aged in small 3-10 gallon charred, new oak barrels.” Their hands-on approach is a good fit for Brooklyn’s move “toward food and drink with a certain integrity in terms of production, ingredient sourcing and attention to environmental impact. This is a lot easier when you’re small, and we know everything about every part of our process, from the farmer to the bartenders.”

They’re set to start production in April with bottles available to the public later in the month. This might not give them much time for aging, but as Spoelman notes, aging is often used by large factories to mask certain imperfections in a whiskey, whereas unaged whiskey “is a much better measure of the distiller’s art.”