DISTILL OUR BEATING HEART: Whiskey returns to New York
The Big Apple is home to countless iconic pubs, pleasing patios, and brain cell limiting bars, but for more than 100 years, no whiskey distillery has called Manhattan home. That’s now changed with the opening of Great Jones Distilling Co., Manhattan’s first and only legal whiskey distillery since Prohibition.
Like many other architectural projects in New York, the distillery is a feat of ingenuity. The six-year construction journey has overcome rigid city regulations, centuries-old fire codes, and a global pandemic to deliver a new spirit to the city and give New Yorkers their own whiskey distillery. The result is a 2,600 sq.-m. space at 686 Broadway in the NoHo district (between SoHo and Greenwich Village), comprised of a custom-built distillery where people can take part in tours and tasting experiences (starting Aug. 21), as well as a restaurant, speakeasy, and event venue, which will open in September.
Founded by Proximo Spirits and fuelled by the vision of owner and 11th- generation spirits maker Juan Domingo Beckmann, the distillery embodies the notion that the best spirits should reflect their origins, in this case threading the history of bourbon in New York to the present day.
To that end, the whiskies are made exclusively with grains grown in the rich ebony soil of the Black Dirt region less than two hours north of Manhattan in Upstate New York, resulting in whiskies that are smooth, balanced, and complex, with a distinctive spiciness characteristic of the New York-grown grains from which they are made. More spice, less sweet – more New York.
“The opening of Great Jones Distilling Co. represents a landmark moment for spirits and New York City history, bringing the craft of whiskey distillation back to Manhattan after 100 years,” says company founder Juan Domingo Beckmann, Founder of Great Jones Distilling Co. and Proximo Spirits.
With the opening of the distilling company comes the introduction of three new whiskies: Great Jones Straight Bourbon, Great Jones Four Grain Bourbon, and Great Jones Rye Whiskey. The three signature liquids are made from 100% New York-sourced grain and have been aging for the past five years in new charred American oak barrels at Great Jones’ sister distillery, Black Dirt.
Construction of the expansive distillery space conquered many unique challenges. Located in an area of the city with a rich history from the Prohibition era, the 82-year-old building had to be reinforced deep below ground to support the custom combination copper pot still with two columns housed on the second floor, navigating the subway system that runs below the building. During the renovation, a secret tunnel was discovered, thought to be used to transport whiskey and other spirits under the streets of New York. This tunnel now runs directly behind the speakeasy, which is set to open this fall.
The visitor experience at Great Jones includes:
• Distillery tours and guided whiskey tastings and experiences
• The Restaurant at Great Jones (opening September), a refined yet
approachable culinary experience offering a contemporary menu focused on locally sourced New York ingredients.
• The Speakeasy: An intimate underground spot featuring a restaurant and exclusive tasting menu
• The Lounge: An exclusive enclave for guests and space for private events
• The Shop: Offering merchandise, plus the distillery’s three signature spirits. Four Grain Bourbon and Great Jones Rye Whiskey are both sold exclusively at the distillery while Great Jones Straight Bourbon Whiskey is sold both on-site at the distillery as well as at bars and retailers in New York and New Jersey.
Great Jones Distilling Co. is open Wednesday-Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. Distillery tours are available to those 21 and older and are available for booking.
With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:
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First published at Travel Industry Today