Manhattan’s first legal whiskey distillery since Prohibition is now open

August 23, 2021

The distillery’s atrium; Photos courtesy of Great Jones Distilling Co.

Manhattan’s first legal whiskey distillery in over 100 years is now open. Great Jones Distilling Company officially opened on Saturday at a stunning four-level space at 686 Broadway in Noho, overcoming city regulations and construction issues to build the first legitimate whiskey distillery in the city since the Prohibition era. At the space, visitors can enjoy tours and tastings, as well as an underground speakeasy, a private event space, and a restaurant helmed by Chef Adam Raksin, all set to open in the coming weeks.

Great Jones Distilling Company was founded by Juan Domingo Beckmann, an 11th generation spirits producer and founder of Proximo Spirits, a Jersey City-based company that distributes the tequila brand Jose Cuervo.

“The opening of Great Jones Distilling Co. represents a landmark moment for spirits and New York City history, bringing the craft of whiskey distillation back to Manhattan after 100 years,” Beckmann said.

“For 11 generations, my family has crafted some of the world’s leading spirits, and we are proud to introduce a bourbon that truly embodies the best of New York State ingredients and the ‘lightning in a bottle’ energy of Manhattan.”

While Manhattan is home to a vodka distillery (Our/New York) and Brooklyn has been producing its own whiskey at Kings County Distillery since 2009, Great Jones Distilling is now the first and only legal distillery producing whiskey in the borough since Prohibition.

For the opening, available whiskies, which are made with grains grown in soil found in Upstate New York, include Great Jones Straight Bourbon, Great Jones Four Grain Bourbon, and Great Jones Rye Whiskey. All of the spirits have been aging for the past five years in new charred American oak barrels upstate during the distillery’s construction.

Designed by Groundswell Design Group, the project faced many construction challenges, including reinforcing the 82-year-old building to support the “custom combination copper pot still with two columns housed on the second floor.”

The 500-gallon pot had to be placed in a two-story explosion-proof glass room; the floor with the still had to be lowered five feet due to a local zoning rule that prohibits distilling above the second level, as the New York Times reported.

According to the company, a secret tunnel was discovered during the renovation, which they believe was used to transport spirits under New York. The tunnel now runs behind the distillery’s speakeasy.

Great Jones Distilling Co. is open every Wednesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., with tours and private events available for booking. The underground speakeasy and full restaurant will debut this fall.


All photos courtesy of Great Jones Distilling Co.

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