Chance Happenings, Great Timing, Dedicated To Service
The Prohibition Distillery, tucked along the Catskill Mountains in New York State, is a reflection of its founders. First, it is a brand that survived only through redefinition. Second, it embodies the dream of two business partners to new career paths. Third, its foundation is built upon giving back to those who have served their country. These concepts may seem disparate and disconnected, but listening to co-founder Brian Facquet tell the story of the distillery, these three concepts fit together quite nicely.
The Prohibition Distillery was not originally conceived to be an independent operation at its earliest stage. When John Walsh, also a co-founder of Prohibition, pitched Brian on the idea of opening a distillery in 2009, the idea seemed simple. John had come up with the perfect name for a new craft spirit in the growing craft-liquor movement. The idea was to use another distillery's equipment, create a high quality, local spirit, and enjoy the benefits of low overhead (because they wouldn't own the distillery) and fast growth (because they would be one of the first craft distilleries in New York). Of course, like many plans, this idea didn't survive contact with the real world.
John and Brian's craft label had gotten off to a fine, if trying, start. They managed to rent space from New York's Tuthilltown Spirits and use that facility during the development cycle of their new business. Brian is thankful for Tuthilltown for putting up with him and John and finding space in their ever-shrinking distillery. Of course, Tuthilltown's distillery wasn't getting any smaller, rather Tuthilltown's success meant less and less space for the Prohibition boys. Then the best/worst thing happened: Tuthilltown was bought by a larger operation and Prohibition needed to find a new home. That's how Prohibition Distillery moved from being a contract-brand to owning a distillery in an abandoned firehouse in the Catskills. Necessity required that Brian and John finally make their largest investment and open their own production space. For Brian, the time at Tuthilltown was the most educational part of his distilling life. It's where he learned to operate a commercial distillery and it is also where he learned about the close camaraderie among craft distillers.
Going back even farther in the story, Prohibition began because of a chance encounter on a New York City bus. Earlier in their careers, Brian and John both worked for the same company and became friends. After not seeing each other for two years, John was riding a city bus and decided to call Brian about the idea to start a spirits brand. Lo and behold, Brian was stepping on to the same bus. John's idea struck a chord with Brian. Years prior, Brian had flirted with the idea of starting a brewery and had come close to investing in one. He was talked out of it, but the idea of working in alcohol stuck with him. Many calls and discussions later, the partners decided to start out on a new adventure. Now that their spirits have been served at the Super Bowl, Charlotte Motor Speedway and in countless tasting rooms across the country, it seems they made the right decision. To Brian, chance encounters and great timing have come to define Prohibition Distillery's path.
One image is indelibly linked with every bottle of Prohibition Distillery: the poppy, a symbol of fallen soldiers. Regardless of his present career, Brian will always be a veteran of the U.S. Navy. His service is something he takes great pride in and he uses his distillery to educate the public about those who have served. Bottles of his Bootlegger-brand liquors have a poppy engraved on the back. When visitors come to the distillery, tours and tastings are free. Brian sees that as a way of educating the public about how alcohol is made. However, after a tasting, he educates the public about the history of the poppy and what it means. He then encourages a donation be made to the VFW and American Legion, which can be done right in the tasting room. Every customer who makes a donation gets a paper poppy. To Brian, this is also an important piece of educating the public. He wants people to know who the old men are handing out poppies on street corners and the symbolism behind their actions. He wants people to walk away with a greater understanding of how quality spirits are made, but he also wants them to appreciate the sacrifice that goes into our open society.
There's so much to highlight when it comes to the Prohibition Distillery: Its award-winning spirits, the inventiveness of its founders, the deep meaning and history behind its bottles. But really, what Prohibition reflects is that one can never know when opportunity will come knocking: be it a chance encounter on a bus, the need to find a new home for an new business, or a way to use a tasting room to give back to those who safeguard their country.
To learn about the Prohibition Distillery and its Bootlegger brand, visit its website at: http://www.prohibitiondistillery.com/