Jersey Spirits Distilling Co. recently opened its doors in Fairfield and will be the only NJ distillery at the Whiskey Festival on October 15 in Jersey City, where its white whiskey will be available. Here’s what co-owner John Granata had to say to Jersey Bites’ Veronique Deblois.
JERSEY BITES: How did you get the idea to create Jersey Spirits Distilling Co.?
JOHN GRANATA: We enjoy handmade things and are very craft oriented. We never really were fans of commercial ventures. Even in the video production business, I considered my studio an Independent operation and was always involved with innovative projects and techniques that were not necessarily mainstream. We also love to cook and we make wine together every year as well as beer and things like homemade lemoncello, orangecello, apple pie spirits—all legally, of course. We would purchase the spirits and then blend them with all natural ingredients. Traveling is a big passion of ours and when we travel, we make it a point to visit breweries, distilleries and wineries around the places we are going. In 2013, on a visit to Utah, we went to High West Distillery. It was a small craft and manageable operation that got us thinking, Why not look into this? We came home and did some research and saw the NJ laws were just about to change so we got serious about it. A few weeks later, we were in Vermont and visited Smuggler’s Notch Distillery and their operation was even smaller with a homemade still. That pretty much sealed it for us. We did an amazing amount of research and visited a lot more distilleries and equipment manufacturers. We did apprenticing and workshops to get the hands on experience and exposure to how others are doing things. That all enabled us to legitimately developed our own processes. We got to experience, firsthand, small operations literally out of a barn stall to full scale commercial operations and everything in between. Once we figured out how we wanted to do it, we developed our business plan and then searched for a space so we could file our license applications. It did take time, but we wanted to be sure we knew everything we could before we tried to open up and learn as you go. Now we can focus on being creative and experimenting and making great spirits as well as having fun.
What type of ingredients are you using to create your spirits? Where do you they come from?
We generally use corn, rye, wheat, barley malt, and Grade A Fancy molasses in our regular products. We try to get whatever we can from NJ first but obviously things like molasses are not from around here. If we cannot get it from NJ, we look regionally to our neighboring states. We also use honey and apples from NJ and Maple Syrup from the surrounding region. Everything we use is all natural and we try and go organic wherever possible. We do not use any coloring whatsoever and are very happy with letting things come naturally. Our spent grains go to feed 70 head of very happy cattle in Sussex County. We do ferment on the grain so there is alcohol in the grains.
Any new products you’re working on?
Yes. Currently we are working on several products: an apple pie specialty spirit, a pumpkin pie specialty spirit, Lemoncello, and Orangecello. We are also finalizing a hopped gin and a honey gin.
What is the best advice you have to share with young folks interested in getting into the booze business?
Do not be afraid to experiment and be creative. Chemistry, biology, and math are actually very important. It may seem like a daunting process but don’t let that scare you. The TTB and ABC are great and really help you out immensely. It does take loads of time and resources but once you get past actually taking the step to start, it really is a pretty cool journey.
It’s your last day on earth, where are you having that last cocktail?
On the beach in the Caribbean.
Where can our readers find your products?
We are really new and are still waiting on a few final things from the state but we have over two dozen bars, restaurants and liquor stores in the northern Jersey area waiting on our product. We should be delivering in the next couple weeks.
Anything you’re working on that our readers should know about?
We are constantly trying new things. We are developing some pretty interesting programs like a Barrel Share and classes such as Infusion and Mixology as well. The best thing to do is follow us on social media or visit our website. We do not sit still and are always adding to our tasting room and products. We did all the building and décor ourselves and are pretty proud of what we accomplished. We make some great drinks that are always changing and we try and keep them aligned with seasonal ingredients that are always fresh.
Jersey Spirits Distilling Co.
1275 Bloomfield Avenue – Building 7, Unit 40B
Fairfield (in the Pio Costa Manufacturing Complex)
4 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays
4 to 9 p.m. Fridays
1 to 9 p.m. Saturdays
1 to 5 p.m. Sundays
Veronique Deblois is a food and wine blogger based in Morris County, NJ. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.