Exploring New York’s Oldest Operating Whiskey Distillery

King’s County, the city’s oldest operating whiskey distillery, is right off the A train. So close to di island of Manhattan, mon. But yet it feels like you’re in a completely different city and time period.

Of course, I got lost on the way there…but it ended up being kind of cool.

admirals row
I saw a bunch of deserted houses, which had to be totally grand at one point in time. Turns out, they were part of the Admiral’s Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In fact, the Paymaster Building (also part of the Navy Yard) is where the Whiskey Distillery is located. I wasn’t too far off.

kings county

Things to know about visiting King’s County:

  • Enter through the Sands Street gate (unless you want to see Admiral’s Row & get lost like I did)
  • Tours are Saturdays from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Tours are $8 per person
  • There’s a tasting at the end…mmm

The tour had just started as I entered the building, so I paid and sat down to listen to the guide. There’s a rich history surrounding the distillery. I don’t want to give everything away but it includes awesome stories of dispelling so much whiskey during Prohibition that it ended up flowing like rivers down the streets of Brooklyn. Another story about swill milk, a bi-product of distilling that killed almost 8,000 infants in the 1850s, will be forever etched into your mind.

swill milk

Today, the distillery produces about 50,000 gallons of whiskey, bourbon and moonshine per year. And if you go on the tour, you can see how it’s all made, and more importantly, how it tastes…

distillery

After the chat, they take you downstairs to where its all made. And yes, it’s ALL made in the tiny basement area and aged upstairs. They use New York State corn and grains…so it’s totally locally sourced if you HIPSTERS wanted to know.

whiskey making

grain

I didn’t know this…but apparently Bourbon by definition has to be made in America. It also has to be aged in a completely new, charred, oak barrel. When I walked through, they still had a couple of tasting glasses out from the Master Blender’s recent visit.

aging process

master blender

The tasting was last on the tour – we tried Moonshine (super strong), chocolate whiskey (good with coffee probs) and Bourbon (my fave). It had a little spice to it. And I think I liked it even more after seeing how it was made and appreciating the crap out of it.

tasting

I loved visiting the distillery – my favorite way to soak up history is 1. with booze, 2. in an interactive way. It’s just so much better than going to a museum.

So when you find yourself with nothing to do one Saturday, take a trip on the A train, check out the distillery and grab yourself some bourbon for the train ride back…

bourbon

 

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