In recent years Brooklyn has become a nexus for small batch production, and craft distilling is no exception.
“I was doing a lot of brewing and fermenting at home […] making fruit eau d’vie and herbal, gin-like, spirits,” recalls Daric Schlesselman, co-founder of Red Hook’s Van Brunt Stillhouse. "Looking around the distilling community, I could see the craft distilling movement developing and knew I wanted to get involved.”
What began as a hobby in the early 2000's eventually developed into a full blown venture in 2012, when Van Brunt Stillhouse opened the doors to its 6,000 square foot warehouse space in Red Hook. Today husband and wife team Daric Schlesselman and Sarah Ludington are producing four types of whiskey, as well as rum under their Due North label.
Schlesselman and Ludington take a unique, thoughtful approach to the distilling process. In addition to working exclusively with locally grown grain, they utilize what brewers call "specialty malts" to create a more complex flavor profile right off the still. "We also blend whiskies of varying ages to achieve a bit more depth to the spirits,” explains Schlesselman.
In the tasting room — dominated by warm reclaimed wood and leather couches, a record player and stack of 45’s in the corner — the duo is serving up original and traditional cocktails using amari and bitters produced in-house.
While Van Brunt Stillhouse looks forward to regional and international growth, the distillers are committed to maintaining their homegrown sensibility. "We’re constantly experimenting with fun variations [on whiskey]," states Schlesselman.
2 ounces Van Brunt Stillhouse American Whiskey
1 ounce lime juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake and serve up with a mint garnish.