A visit to Van Brunt Stillhouse
Here we go…..
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.
What is the history and who is behind it?
The distillery was created in 2012 by Daric Schlesselman who worked 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 an industry building. It is rather compact, the maturation barrels area, the bar and the distillery area must occupy around 100 sq meters.
Corn is smoked before being ground, in the little oven trays below before undergoing the same process as above.
The wort is about to become one when cooking starts and heat added to the process. The grains are pumped into a conversion tank in the next room (inside) and the conversion starts. Remember that step ? If not, check here.
Water is added to the mash along with enzymes (amylase in malt) and it converts starch into sugar. The ending product is the wort.
This process takes between 6 hours for a single malt to 16 hours for a Bourbon.
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.
After 4 to 5 days fermentation, it is time to start distillation. They work with an hybrid still, half pot, half column. They use the pot still to “strip” the liquid, they call it the “stripping run” it isolate alcohol from grain. They obtain what they call “low wines”.
The second run uses both the pot still and the column still for what they call a “spirit run”. After 6 hours a clear white dog is ready to become many things…
Look at their beautiful German still from Carl (below).
When distillation is achieved, the white dog is filtered and goes into 15 gallon car boys (like demi john transparent glass container) and will then be bareled according to the category (new charred barrel for Bourbon, etc etc)
Look at their maturation barrels.
They use 10, 15, and 25 gallon barrels, the later for Bourbon only.
When the whiskeys are considered ready by the master blender, it will be diluted (filtered Brooklyn tap water) and bottled.
What Spiritsfully liked about this visit:
How welcoming and passionate they all were. And they are craftsmen definitely providing their customers with an handcrafted spirits.