31.07.2016.

Poseta Kings County destileriji u Bruklinu




Sa delom Kolina Spoelmana upoznao sam se pre par godina kada sam u inostranstvu nabasao na knjigu “Vodič za urbani Moonshine”. Rodom iz Kentakija, kolevke burbon viskija, Kolin se našao u Njujorku radeći kao arhitekta. U slobodno vreme pokušavao je da napravi viski onako kako se to od vajkada krišom radilo u njegovom rodnom kraju. Pošto je u SAD bilo kakva destilacija alkohola za privatne potrebe još uvek ilegalna, a zakoni stari i do 50 godina štite velike igrače - bila je to dugogodišnja bitka. Borba je izvojevana angažovanim učešćem u lokalnim zakonodavnim izmenama koje su omogućile rad malih destilerija. Kolin tada zajedno sa partnerom Dejvidom Haskelom otvara Kings County Distillery, prvu destileriju na teritoriji grada Njujorka još od kraha prohibicije (1933).

O pojmovima: burbon, moonshine i mikro-destilerija već ste imali prilike da čitate na ovom blogu. Kings County ih objedinjuje u najboljem svetlu i u tome uspeva poprilično dobro. Ceo pogon smešten je u istorijskoj zgradi trezora brodogradilišta u Bruklinu, staroj 117 godina. Prostor brodogradilišta zapravo ima dugu istoriju sa alkoholom jer je na tom mestu dolazilo do sukoba pecara i poreske službe toliko da se i zapucalo, pa su događaji ostali zapisani u istoriji kao ‘viski ratovi’ iz 1860-ih, no o tome možda neki sledeći put.


Ulazeći u zgradu shvatamo da je glavni deo pogona u prizemlju gde se obavlja skoro sve: mešanje, fermentacija, destilacija u dva kazana škotske proizvodnje i deo za punjenje. Na spratu se nalaze: degustaciona sala, mini-muzej i soba za odležavanje i kupažiranje. Naša hostesa, koja nas vodi kroz proizvodni proces, objašnjava kako u destileriji preovladava dobrovoljački i uradi-sam duh, jer uz stalno zaposlene imaju i dosta volontera. Naime, vikendom se možete prijaviti da dobrovoljno punite flaše i nakon smene od 4h, za trud dobijate jednu bocu. Taj prizor upravo i vidimo ispred nas.


U prostoriji za sazrevanje zatičemo veliki broj buradi veličine oko 5 galona (oko 19L). Razlog za ovako malu burad je, naravno, brže sazrevanje - česta procedura za mikro-destilerije. Sazrevanje traje oko dve godine. Uvek postoji određen broj buradi i veličina koji služe za eksperimentisanje.



Glavni proizvod kojim se KCD diči, međutim, je beli viski ili tzv. Moonshine. Viski koji nije odležavao ni sekund u buretu. Nešto što je možda sasvim normalno za našu rakiju, ovde je potpuna nepoznanica u komercijalnim tokovima viskija. Moonshine vodi poreklo još iz vremena prohibicije kada se proizvodio ilegalno po šumama i garažama, pa jednostavno niste imali vremena da proizvod stavljate u bure, već je bilo bitno da ga se što pre otarasite (i uzmete pare). Samim tim, moonshine ne prati baš dobar glas. KCD se trudi da to promeni.

Iako sam do sada probao više od pedeset različitih viskija, nijedan nije bio ’beli’. Prilikom degustacije primetio sam da nije baš za svakog ljubitelja viskija, a pogotovo ne za prosečnog konzumenta. Koliko god bio stabilizovan, oštrina destilata još uvek se oseti. Najbliže bi se moglo porediti sa neutralnošću lozovače, ali sa telom koje daje jednu izrazito zemljanu notu. Tek negde duboko oseća se blaga slatkoća, zakopana iza zemljanih žitnih aroma. Podsetiću, po američkom zakonu, glavna sirovina za burbon mora da bude najmanje 51% kukuruz. Ovde se koristi 80% lokalnog kukuruza i 20% uvoznog ječma, što doprinosi toj specifičnoj slatkoći. U njihovom starom burbonu ta slatkoća konačno dolazi do izražaja, zajedno sa vanilastim tonovima koji se dobijaju (mala nagorela burad) i konačno zaokružuju destilat.  Ali nemojte se zavaravati, kompleksnost ovog burbona nije nimalo blizu jednog škotskog ili irskog viskija.

Kada sam domaćine priupitao ko zapravo kupuje moonshine, odgovor je bio: kafići i koktel barovi. Tada mi je sve bilo jasno, jer uz ponudu klasičnih jakih alkoholnih pića nudili su i sezonske likere sa infuzijom grejpfruta, halapenjo papričica, čokolade... Očito je u pitanju jedan trend koji je pre svega tu jer je došlo do zasićenja standardnih i poznatih viski ukusa. Kings County osvojila je priznanje za najbolju destileriju u 2016. od strane Americkog Instituta za Destilaciju.


Ono što je mene obradovalo i na neki način začudilo je to što je rad destilerije prilično transparentan. Kolin u svojoj knjizi opisuje proces proizvodnje od recepata, pa sve do dijagrama rasporeda aparata u svojim prostorijama. Na taj način oni pokazuju da su ponosni rodonačelnici craft whiskey scene koja je nakon njih buknula na teritoriji grada i države Njujork.

                                                            Autor teksta i fotografija: Filip Vlatković

A Visit to Kings County Distillery NY





I’ve been introduced to the works of Colin Spoelman by a book called “Guide to Urban Moonshining” which I picked up a couple of years ago somewhere abroad. Originally from Kentucky, the birthplace of bourbon whiskey, Colin found himself in New York working as an architect. In his free time, he had been trying to craft whiskey in a way that’s known for many decades and true to his native home. Since there is still a ban on home distilling in the USA and the laws that are up to fifty years old pretty much work in favor of the big players - it was a struggle for quite some time. At the end, the fight was won after active participation in local legislative changes which helped propel the boom of small craft distilleries. With David Haskell as his partner, Colin formed Kings County Distillery, first one for the whole territory of New York City, since the end of prohibition (1933).


You already had the opportunity to hear the terms: bourbon, moonshine and micro-distillery on this blog. Kings County unifies them in the best of light and is very successful with it. All operations are housed in a historical 117-year old Paymasters building in the Brooklyn Navy yard. The Navy Yard area actually boasts with a lot of liquor-driven history as it was the site of “whiskey wars” of the 1860s, but more on that hopefully some other time.
Downstairs is the main area where all the action happens: fermenting, distilling in two scotch made pot stills and a bottling line. Located upstairs are tasting room, mini-museum and aging room. Our guide explained how the production is, besides normal operation, also based on voluntary and DIY initiatives - as you can sign up for voluntary help on the bottling line on weekends. After your shift, you’ll be rewarded with a bottle of whiskey. It’s exactly the site we see in front of us.
Stepping into the aging room we find ourselves surrounded by large number of small oak barrels, usually the size of 5 gallons. The reason for this is that whiskey aging will be faster, but not rushed. That is a usual practice for micro distilleries. The process takes around two years and there is always a set of bigger or differently filled barrels that are there for experimenting and future unique tastes.


The main product of KCD is, however, unpaged whisky or so-called Moonshine. A spirit that hasn’t aged a second. Something maybe very usual for our Serbian Rakija, this is totally unknown in the world of commercial whisky market. Moonshine gained its reputation since the times of prohibition, when it was produced illegally, deep in the woods and garages, so you just didn’t have the time to properly age it. It was a matter of selling it, taking the money and running. For obvious reasons, it did not build a good reputation throughout the years. KCD is trying to change that.
Even though I’ve tasted more than fifty different whiskeys, none of them was unaged. While enjoying it, I realized it was pretty much an acquired taste, even for a whiskey-aficionado. Even though the spirit was stabilized, there was still an edge you don’t really feel in ‘usual’ whiskeys. Comparing it with a fruit brandy like Rakija, it would sit closest with grape brandy and its ‘neutrality’ - but with  extended earthy tones. In the aftertaste you can feel slight sweetness, buried below earthy and grainy aromas. Let me remind you that the US law states that bourbon whiskey should be made out of 51% corn. KCD uses mash of 80% local corn with 20% imported barley. This is where the specific bourbon sweetness mostly comes from. KCD also offers aged bourbon, where you have even more sweetness accentuated altogether with vanilla tones from the barrel rounding out the fine bouquet. But don’t be fooled, this bourbon complexity in nowhere near very old-aged scotch single malts.



It was pointed to me that the main commercial users of moonshine are NYC bars and cocktail spots. Then it started making really good sense, because KCD besides regular products offers seasonal liquors with chocolate, grapefruit, halapeno infusions... I was obviously in a city amidst a new trend happening because regular, known and standard whiskey tastes got oversaturated. Kings County Distillery won the Best Distillery award in 2016. by American Distilling Institute.
The thing that got to me the most was the transparency of operations. Colin wasn’t shy to give away most of his secrets, anything from recipes to the floor plan arrangement of his distillery. That way they have all rights to be prideful initiators of new whiskey scene in the city and state of New York.
Author: Filip Vlatković