Archives for April 2014

How the heck do you make bourbon?? – Wyoming Whiskey

Wyoming is known for its wide open spaces and Yellowstone National Park.  But now, it has something new to boast: Wyoming Whiskey, its first and only distillery.

When Brad and Kate Mead approached David Defazio about their idea to make bourbon, he felt like he’d been called in to the principal’s office, as they looked at him solemnly. When they said they wanted to make bourbon, David’s first thought was, “How the heck do you make bourbon?!”.  But then his investigative lawyer side kicked in, and he was off to Kentucky.  What better place to start than the Kentucky Bourbon Festival and the birthplace of bourbon? [Read more…]

The Scofflaw

Welcome to the first guest post by Natalie Migliarini of!  Natalie is a mixologist, cocktail stylist, photographer, and recipe developer based out of Seattle, WA.  Her passion is discovering new and creative ways to use booze.  Her specialty is creating fabulous cocktails with seasonal ingredients.  She believes that every occasion begins and ends with a beautiful drink.  I saw her lovely pictures of her cocktail creations and knew I wanted to share her lovely pictures with my readers. And better yet – she calls Seattle home, which is also home to more than 40 craft distillers! So it was a natural fit that she create cocktails with the spirits she has so close at hand.  Each month, Natalie will showcase a craft spirit in one of her gorgeous creations, so make sure to check back for the latest one!  You can also follow her on Twitter or check her out on Instagram. [Read more…]

Jersey Artisan Distilling – Jersey’s first distillery since Prohibition!

What’s the most common rum drink you know?  I’m going to guess the ubiquitous, rum & Coke.  Basically, you’re hiding the rum in a syrupy soda because the rum by itself isn’t that great.  But guess what? Jersey Artisan Distilling Busted Barrel rum IS that good – you don’t need to hide it with other ingredients!

Meet Krista Haley, co-founder of Jersey Artisan Distilling, the first distillery in New Jersey since Prohibition.  Not only does Krista make great rum with her partner, Brant Braue, but she’s also helped to shape New Jersey law to be more favorable to craft distilling.  Did I mention she’s also an attorney?  Talk about multi-talented! 

Brant and Krista - and of course, Busted Barrel Rum!

Brant and Krista – and of course, Busted Barrel Rum!

Krista was introduced to rum by her island-born field hockey teammates in college. Real rum, not the stuff most people think of when they hear the word. Krista said that sometimes people have a “bad vacation experience” – a bit of overindulging in some sweet concoction with an umbrella – that turns them off of rum.  But craft rum isn’t like the stuff made by the pirate guy nor the legendary sea monster.

The concept of JAD started over a chance conversation: an engineer and an attorney walk into a bar… No, that’s not the beginning of a bad joke, it’s the beginning of the story behind JAD!  Krista and Brant were looking for the next challenge in their professional lives, and I’d say they found it.  While it’s a great thing to see your product on the menu at a bar or restaurant, it can be a long road to get there.  Sleeping on a cot in the distillery sometimes?  Check.  Driving around looking for a bottle of seltzer water for an event while talking to yours truly?  Check.  But the satisfaction is priceless and that’s what keeps Krista and Brant going. 

Less than 10% of craft distillers currently make rum, which puts JAD in a good spot.  Start-up costs for a micro-distillery can be huge, with permits and other government fees making it even more difficult.  Thanks to Krista and her legislative efforts, the permitting costs have gone from $12,500 to a mere $938 in New Jersey.  New Jersey likes their craft beer and now they get a chance to try their first craft spirits since Prohibition.  With one obstacle tackled, on to making tasty rum!

We aren’t doing anything different, just better.” That’s the tagline from JAD’s site. They’re not just making rum – they’re making good rum. The process of distilling produces three parts: heads, tails and hearts (check out Liquor 101 and subscribe to get my free e-guide to learn more!).  When you “cut” distilled spirits, you separate the hearts from the heads and tails (the stuff you don’t want to drink). Being precise about how and when you cut ensures your spirits are consistent from batch to batch and that you’re getting the best tasting part. Krista describes her process as “psychotically conscious”: she knows exactly when to make the cut – when it stops tasting like “banana taffy”! 

Krista’s legislative efforts benefit more than just their distillery, as they partner with the local community. JAD only uses natural ingredients: “If I can’t pronounce it, it doesn’t go into our products.”  They are working with local farmers to grow sweet corn and juniper berries, for future vodka and gin products.  They partner with local restaurants, to host events and of course, to have Busted Barrel rums on the back bar.


Busted Barrel Silver and Dark rums are currently available in a wide variety of locations throughout New Jersey, with efforts to expand into Massachusetts, DC, Maryland, New York and Connecticut in the works.  If you’re nearby, check out the events where you can try Busted Barrel for yourself – and tell them LikeYourLiquor sent you!


Never a dull moment – Renee Cimino, Tuthilltown Spirits

When Renee took the tour at Tuthilltown Spirits, she was simply there to check out where the whiskey she’d tried was made. What she found was a lot more than a tasting and a tour! She found a great job that uses her past experience as a chef, bartender and stone mason and lets her indulge not only her passion for learning new things, but to also make whiskey! Talk about hitting the trifecta!

I got a chance to speak with Renee on her five month anniversary of being a distiller at Tuthilltown Spirits. Her enthusiasm and dedication to her new craft are very apparent, after talking to her for just a few minutes. Initially, she’d only applied for a bottling position, but the folks at Tuthilltown recognized something in Renee that led them to offer her a position as a distiller. She accepted and hasn’t looked back.

Renee Cimino, Distiller

Renee Cimino, Distiller

“There’s never a dull moment – that’s one of the things I love about Tuthilltown,” Renee answered when I asked her about the best part of her job. She’s had to learn the distilling process from beginning to end. And thanks to the great team that she works with, learning has been a pleasure. There’s always something to do, from the physical tasks of unloading a truck, to understanding what goes into the Hudson whiskies. She excels at being organized and efficient, or being a “neurotic perfectionist” as she described it. Her job allows her to bring all her talents to a job she loves.

I asked Renee for a tip she’d give to a whiskey newbie. I’ve met people that are hesitant to try something they perceive as too strong, or they don’t think will taste good. Renee suggested taking a tour of your local craft distillery, to see how the process works. You’ll likely get a chance to try the spirits that the distillery makes, with someone guiding you through the process. Great advice!

Tuthilltown Spirits is about 75 miles outside of New York City, in the small town of Gardiner. Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee started Tuthilltown in 2003, by converting one of the mill granaries to a micro-distillery. Less than 3 years later, they produced their first batch of vodka made from scraps they got from the local apple slicing plant. Today, they use grains grown on a farm less than 10 miles from the distillery: talk about true “grain to glass”! When people ask Renee what she does in such a small town, she says with pride, “I make great whiskey, of course!”.

Check out Tuthilltown Spirit’s full line of products here. I’ve had the pleasure of trying most of the Tuthilltown spirits – including their Half Moon Gin – all of them are fantastic! I also have a samples from their Basement Bitters series that are in development, so stay tuned here for a full review and cocktail recipe suggestions. Currently, Bitter Frost is available to purchase online or in their store. And of course, if you’re in the area, make sure to stop in for a tour – say hi to Renee and tell them that LikeYourLiquor sent you!

Grab the button!