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Michael Lowe and John Uselton are the founders of New Columbia Distillers and the makers of Green Hat Gin. With three recipes under their belt, New Columbia Distillers is a favorite with those looking for a seasonal gin made in the heart of D.C.

DomiCile: So what do you think was the reason for the lack of distilleries in D.C.?

John: [Michael and I] do a little bit of everything. I handle a good bit of the day-to-day production here and there, mashes and that kind of thing. Michael is definitely the regulatory guru, so to say. There are only three people that work here, so everybody’s gotta be able to do a little bit of everything.

Michael: Once Prohibition ended or sometime within a few years of that, D.C. established the statutes that regulated distilleries and would allow someone to put a distillery in. No one did it. My guess is, because there were 3 or 4 significant distilleries in Baltimore. And so, for several decades, a distillery meant either a guy out in the woods someplace with a moonshine still, or a great big industrial plant. It wasn’t really until the 1990s at the earliest that craft stilling started up nationwide. And it just so happened that nobody had gotten around to trying a craft distillery here in D.C. until we came along.

Michael: John and I are the founders. Primarily coowners, but John’s also my son-in-law.

DomiCile: So were you big gin drinkers before you did this?

DomiCile: So how did this idea come about?

Michael: Yeah, I think so. We both have significant gin collections at home. You know, gin’s the traditional main cocktail spirit. Back in the 1920s, 1930s, gin was what you got in a cocktail, at least half the time. That was before vodka even showed up in this country, which wasn’t really until the 1950s and 1960s. Obviously there were whiskey cocktails, but a lot of people drank their whiskey neat. So gin really gives you a lot of room for creativity—not only in the flexibility you’ve got in making it, but in the

DomiCile: Tell us a little about New Columbia Distillers.

John: D.C. needed a distillery. DomiCile: We definitely agree. John: While they were exploding all over the country there were none in D.C. Since we had a real love of gin, we decided the best thing was to open a gincentric distillery.


DomiCile Fall 2014  
DomiCile Fall 2014  

The Fall 2014 Issue highlights the Logan Circle neighborhood in Washington, D.C. and shows off the perfect way to enjoy the season with thin...