Since the moment my brother and I thought up this crazy dream of opening up a distillery years ago, we have run into the same problem over and over: almost no one knows what a distillery is! People have been curious about our venture and many are asking us what sort of beer we will be making. However, we won’t be making any beer at all!
In short, distilleries are producers of distilled spirits, also known by many as “the hard stuff” like your vodka, gin, whiskey, rum, tequila and other liquors. Distilleries engage in several activities: they ferment, distill, age and bottle.
So now, why do people get distilleries confused with breweries? People just aren’t used to the term, because there are just so many more breweries in the country than distilleries.
Here’s the deal. Since the time of prohibition, the public’s perception of distilling was unfavorable. Along with the anti-alcoholism campaigns, home distilling came under fire when poorly made distilling operations either exploded or the distilled product was so toxic, it made people go blind. However, that isn’t totally the case and many of the claims were actually over exaggerated to scare the population away from distilling.
As a result, this led to much more hesitancy to legalize home distilling (which is still federally illegal with some differences from state to state) while home brewing was legalized in 1978. Legalizing home brewing led to a revolution in brewing styles and eventually the 8,000 and counting breweries now in operation in the US. Compare that to approximately 2,000 distilleries, and many of those popped up in the past five years!
New Jersey, our home state, created a craft distilling license in 2013 and, after many years of strict alcoholic beverage laws, now has 24 distilleries.
Coming soon. Number 25!