Van Brunt Stillhouse takes a time honored traditional approach to distilling. Sourcing wheat, rye and corn directly from upstate New York farmers. Making every spirit from scratch in the waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook in Brooklyn.
Van Brunt Stillhouse, name notwithstanding, stands at the corner of Otsego and Bay streets. Thrown into operation in early 2012, it is the passion project of Daric Schlesselman, son and grandson of Midwestern farmers and a refugee from the television world (he’s a video editor at Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show).
Co-Founders Daric Schlesselman and Sarah Ludington
The distillery building itself is nearly anonymous. Walking by the former paint factory Van Brunt calls home, you’d get no hint that a German-made Carl still was churning away inside, save a small hand-painted sign. When Schlesselman named the distillery, he was looking for a space on nearby Van Brunt Street. He kept the name because he liked the “Dutchness” of it. Beside, “Oswego Stillhouse” wouldn’t have much of a ring.
Van Brunt Stillhouse first distinguished itself in the fast-growing Brooklyn distilling world early on by rolling out, as its first product, a rum called Due North. That was original; at the time, no one in Kings County was making rum. But that debut may turn out to have been a red herring. For, at heart, Schlesselman is a whiskey man, and whiskey is what he plans to focus on from now on.
In its short life, Van Brunt Stillhouse has produced enough varieties of grain spirit for Schlesselman to be able to refer to the distillery’s “family of whiskeys.” There’s the flagship, a four-grain distillate dubbed “American Whiskey”; a bourbon; a malt whiskey done in the Scotch style; and, most recently, a limited-edition rye. This last, as you read these words, has probably already disappeared from shelves.
Van Brunt also produces grappa. Like the rum, it is another local novelty that helped net the distiller some attention in its first days, but a product that will likely not play a major role in the company’s future.
Taking the local ethos to heart, the folks at Van Brunt Stillhouse make all their spirits with wheat, rye, and corn sourced from upstate New York farmers. Even better, all of the whiskeys on offer are made from scratch in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and not by a factory distillery in the midwest.
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