BREUCKELEN DISTILLING COMPANY W R I T T E N & P H OTO G R A P H E D BY B E N J A M I N P E I M
rad Estabrooke is passionate about what he does: making spirits from scratch with local ingredients. He’s the founder and owner of the Breuckelen Distilling Company, which sits in an industrial area of Brooklyn, New York’s most populous borough. Estabrooke first landed on the idea of starting a small distillery in 2007, the same year he moved to New York City. He had spent the past six years working in finance after having graduated from college. While he was making good money, he didn’t have a passion for how he made a living. “I realized
that the finance job I landed in was a huge mistake,” he said, looking back. He had grown enamored with the idea of the independent craftsman. A person who works with his hands and takes a raw commodity and makes something with it, thereby transforming it into something special. Doing some research, he learned that a small distillery could actually be economically viable. And that’s ironic, considering that up until then, he’d always considered himself a wine person. He now appreciates spirits just as much as wine, and sees the
two as fundamentally similar. “Everyone’s doing the same basic thing,” Estabrooke said. “But there’s so many nuances to it that make all the difference, just like wine.” In 2008, the economy imploded, and the Great Recession followed. Estabrooke found himself out of a job. He had saved up some money, and he decided that then was the time to launch a distillery. His finance industry connections paid off in helping him find enough money to get the distillery started. He rented a warehouse in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, bought his first still, and
produced his first whiskey later that year. Breuckelen is still in the same location almost a decade later. And where does the Breuckelen name come from? He decided on the name after discussions with his wife, Liz. They wanted something that was historical but had a unique sound. They were inspired by an old map that hung in their apartment building lobby which depicted colonial-era Brooklyn with the name that the Dutch — New York’s first colonists — had bestowed on the borough: Breuckelen. As a distiller, his philosophy is to let flavor be his guide. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
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