Manhattan gets first whiskey distillery in 100 years

Immerse yourself in whiskey.

That’s pretty much the requirement when entering Great Jones Distilling Company, Manhattan’s first whiskey distillery in 100 years.

The 28,000 square foot complex was six years in the making and faced many obstacles along the way – including just finding the property itself - says project manager Andrew Merinoff.

“In order to understand what distilling is in New York City, you have to understand the zoning that it takes to be a distillery. So, we're in an M1-5 zone in which there are only 122 buildings in New York City that allow that operation. We know that because we saw every single one of them.”

At the heart of Great Jones, where the magic happens: a 500-gallon pot, or still, where the whiskey is distilled - or, simply put, where a harder alcohol is made from a lower alcohol base.

But while having that much alcohol in the middle of a four-story New York City building may seem dicey, Merinoff says not to worry.

“The room that this still is encased in is completely explosion proof. The air can be sucked out of it in 90 seconds, making it one of the safest distilling rooms in the world."

Great Jones is Manhattan’s first whiskey distillery since the days of prohibition, when the sale of alcohol was outlawed across the U.S.

It’s the brainchild of Juan Domingo Beckmann – who, despite coming from the family that owns Jose Cuervo tequila – is tapping into the recent whiskey craze, with bourbon, in particular, surging in popularity.

The distillery includes a cocktail bar, restaurant, event space and, of course, a speakeasy.