One of my first New York friends, Iris has moved back to the US from China. She was gone for four years and since she has arrived back in the New York area, has been on the lookout for new things to do or check out that did not exist when she was last here. One of those new things is the Industry City Distillery located a grand totally of 15 blocks from my apartment in south Brooklyn. The distillery does tours on Sunday afternoons at 4PM and Iris arranged a tour for a group of us to check it out. I have done a beer brewery tour or two, but never a vodka distillery and heard a couple interesting things about this place, plus there was a tasting at the end, so I was definitely on board to see how it works.
The distillery is located along the water edge on the south side of the Gowanus Expressway in, what I would guess anyway, is one of the last remain industrial areas in Brooklyn so it feels a bit remote, and there really are not too many people running around the area on a Sunday afternoon. This is all to say that it’s a pretty quiet, empty area that you could film Apocalypse movies in and still clean enough that you don’t feel like you will get axed at any minute. Perhaps the picture below does this whole description more justice. Anyway they are on the 6th floor of the Old Bush Terminal, now Industry City.
The space is pretty awesome and the guys who created Industry City Distillery are awesome too. They are so excited about what they are doing and creating, it is highly infectious. We first met with Peter, who lead us on our tour. He told us about how he met the other guys, why they decided to go with vodka distillation and what other ideas they have in mind. I’m not gonna tell you all the details, because you must go on your own Sunday tour, but it is all very interesting.
Once we had the background info, we headed into the machine room where Zach was working. They make all their own equipment. Everything. Except maybe not the glass. They have basically reinvented the distillation process using a more scientific type processes. They don’t make things in big vats and they don’t distill things over and over, they have a sort of continuous stripping process that allows them to be more precise. This is why they are making their own equipment, no one else makes it. This means they have a lot of fun tools for making their Frankenstein equipment and beautiful labels.
After the shop we headed in to the distillery and bottling area. In one corner we had the circular stripping still, in the other was the high separation fractional distillation column, in the middle was the tasting and mixing table where Tea was going through and tasting all the cuts of the batch. In the back, was a row windows with an awesome view of the water front and city. Oh and in the front corner is the robot they built (built!) to do the bottle labels. Dave patiently explained all the science and brains behind the process. Then he took us into the Lab where they do the fermentation in these glass tubes. It’s a tiny narrow space where they can control the environment and make sure they have happy yeast!
The tour ended with the tasting of their latest run No. 3. One person thought it tasted like apples, I thought it tasted like vanilla cake batter. It was delicious, vodka you drink straight over ice. So good.Knowing me, I messed something up in here, so you need to go check it out, let the experts tell you how it’s done, and have an excellent Sunday afternoon. Email them right here: firstname.lastname@example.org and Peter will hook you up!