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!


About Jeanne Runkle

Jeanne Runkle currently lives in San Diego, and is a certified bartender and craft liquor expert. Her specialty is the brown stuff, whether it's bourbon, rye or good old American whiskey. She can sometimes be found stalking the aisles of a liquor store near you, answering your random whiskey questions.

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