Kings County Updates

There’s a great article on Kings County Distilling in the New York Times today with photos of the new custom copper pot stills that just arrived from Scotland. Kings County had been using a handful of tiny stainless steel stills, so this is a big upgrade.

They’ll begin using five new wooden tubs for the mash soon, too. Those tubs are made by one of the three local companies that make the iconic wooden water tanks that top many buildings over six stories tall in New York City.

Generally, distillers like consistency. As Kings County’s distiller Nicole Austin admitted to the Times, it will be impossible for there not to be some change in flavor of their products.

What’ll be interesting is how they’ll change — and how they’ll handle that change — once they start using the new stills and mash tubs. There’s a good chance that between their bigger, better stills and the experience they’ve gained, they could make better booze. Do they extend their product line? And another big question: Kings County’s prices, like upstate New York’s Tuthilltown Spirits, have always been alarmingly high (a small, 200ml bottle of unaged corn whiskey is about $20 a bottle; if they offered full-sized 750ml bottles they would cost $75). Will they adjust their prices? The Times reports they’ve secured some financing, so perhaps it’s possible. Then again, how do you back away from high prices once you just bought fancy new stills? Shouldn’t that make you raise your prices?

I would have said the sweet spot for small, craft distillers is about $40 a (750ml) bottle. It’s close to what another local distiller, Breuckelen Distilling, sells their whiskeys for. Likewise Red Hook, Brooklyn-based Cacao Prieto for their rye (which, to be fair, is bottled on site but distilled elsewhere).

KingsCounty ChocolateWhiskey

There’s one Kings County product I buy without quibbling about the price: Kings County’s famous Chocolate Whiskey, which is their corn whiskey infused with Mast Brothers cocoa nibs. It’s back in stock and like last year, it won’t last long. If you want it, buy it fast. It’s incredibly good.

Also in the Times piece, some illuminating facts about the local distilling market:

  • Since distilling became legal in New York again in 2007, about 30 businesses in the state — eight of which are in the City, are operating.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new bill that makes it legal for distillers to sell their products at farmers’ markets, starting this spring.
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