A strong smell of alcohol permeates this aging building in Brooklyn, a New York City borough famous more for hot dogs and handcrafted bagels than for Kentucky-style whiskey.
It is in this up-and-coming section of New York, across the East River from Manhattan, where Kings County Distillery produces the amber-colored elixir said to put hair on the chest and a burn in the throat.
Although scarcely two years old, Kings County Distillery has the distinction of being the city’s oldest operating whiskey distillery.
It is the first such facility to open since the strict Prohibition laws which outlawed the sale and consumption of alcohol were repealed across most of the United States in 1933.
The distillery’s award-winning, hand-crafted bourbon is produced in a 113-year-old renovated brick building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The modest whiskey factory is the brainchild of old college buddies Colin Spoelman and David Haskell, who took on the project as something of a lark.
They now see it a part-time passion — and possibly future full-time vocation — as their New York brand of bourbon gains popularity in bars, liquor stores and restaurants around the region.
Spoelman and Haskell, who are in their 30s, were classmates at Yale University in Connecticut and shared an apartment in New York City after college.
They were surprised that there was no established tradition of distilling one’s own bourbon in a city where young professionals are known to enjoy bar-hopping.