Archtober Building of the Day #24
Kings County Distillery
63 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn
Three days of Archtober rain have finally given way to a chilly day washed clear—perfect weather for an adventure to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. A crowd of Archtober faithful was on hand (despite the conspicuous post-Heritage Ball hangover of the author) for a hair of the dog moment with Master Distiller Colin Spoelman and architect John Bedard at the Kings County Distillery.
The building, solid brick and well detailed in 1899, originally served as the Navy Paymaster Office. The Navy left the yard in 1966, and the structure joined the many others awaiting new and viable economic use. After a brief stint as a Jewish funeral shroud manufacturing facility, it was rescued by the hipster distillers now making their way in the world of craft booze.
Spoelman gave a lively history of the neighborhood which was the historic home to many distillers. We heard stories of the Whiskey Wars of Brooklyn, tax evasion, gangs, crooks, and the heavy hand of the revenue men. We also learned how whiskey is made, and enjoyed, to the extent possible, the strong odor of the process. Vats of yellow corn goo in the process of fermentation, were in big, open wood tanks. Inquisitive insects lazily sipped from the open containers. Huge one-ton sacks of corn were piled up along one side of the still room. The copper-pot still itself was a voluptuous decanter, piped and valved, with a final trickle of clear moonshine issuing forth into a waiting vessel.
Upstairs are the Boozeum and the Barrel Room. Apparently the Barrel Room can be rented as a wedding venue (I wonder what they do about the smell). The whole enterprise seems to be a mirror of hipster chic: locavore, sustainable, micro-business, full of fantastic arcana, and ever so retrospective.
Our crowd huddled in for tasting of three liquors. I abstained, but others reported sophisticated flavor, smooth finish, and a nice woody middle.