Text and photos by Roselle Chen/Reuters
(Reuters) – Curls of smoke blanket a glass filled with bourbon whiskey and ice inside a 28,000-square-foot whiskey distillery in the trendy NoHo neighborhood in Lower Manhattan.
Great Jones Distilling Co. is the New York City borough’s first and only whiskey distillery since Prohibition. The four-story distillery, which opened last month, was six years in the making and faced many obstacles getting off the ground.
“In order to understand what distilling is in New York City, you have to understand the zoning that it takes to be a distillery,” said Great Jones Distilling Co.’s project manager Andrew Merinoff, 31. “After a year and a half of searching, we finally landed at 686 Broadway.”
Within the distillery sits a 500-gallon pot made by Vendome.
“The room that this still is encased in is completely explosion-proof,” said Merinoff. “The air can be sucked out of it in 90 seconds, making it one of the safest distilling rooms in the world.”
Although the distilling happens on site, aging of the whiskey started at Black Dirt in upstate New York five to six years ago and will continue to be sent to Black Dirt for the aging process.
“Whiskey definitely is one of the more difficult spirits to make,” said Merinoff. “This is a labor of love.”
Great Jones Distilling Co. is the brainchild of Juan Domingo Beckmann, chief executive of Jose Cuervo. The distillery includes a cocktail bar, restaurant, event space and speakeasy.
(Reporting by Roselle Chen and Andrew Hofstetter; Editing by Diane Craft)