Earlier this year, we posted a story on a young man who ditched his Wall Street job to open his own gin distillery in Brooklyn.
Last week, we went back to Breuckelen Distilleries to check in with Brad Estabrooke's homemade gin operation on 19th St in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Estabrooke, who is 31 and from South Berwick, Maine, opened his distillery for business just over a month ago after buying a custom-made still from a manufacturer in Germany.
"It cost more than most cars," he told me, but the price was worth it. "[The still] is really good at separating the good alcohols from the bad," he explained. "If you have bad alcohols in your final product, it's gonna taste like shit no matter what."
Estabrooke makes his gin from locally-grown wheat combined with botanicals like juniper berries, grapefruit peel, and rosemary. (Watch him make gin from scratch in the video below.)
And it tastes amazing. He served it to me straight, at room-temperature. (I hadn't drunk gin that way since I pillaged my parents' Tanqueray in high school.) But this stuff was flavorful and smooth.
Estabrooke told me that most "handcrafted" liquors can retail for $40 a bottle simply because of clever marketing. But how can you tell the difference between the gimmicks and the real deal? "Check their website for a photo of the still," he said. "If they don't have a still, they're not for real."