In 2010, a former Kentucky rooftop moonshiner joined forces with the great-grandson of a Prohibition-era bootlegger. Kings County Distillery was born; the first of its kind in New York City since the national alcohol ban of the 1920s. Kings County produces highly awarded, small-batch moonshine, bourbon and other whiskeys at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Paymaster Building—where naval officers once picked up their paychecks. Now, co-founders Colin Spoelman and David Haskell have applied their knowledge, passion and precision to a new project: A book.
“The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey”—published by Abrams Books—is a multi-faceted ode to whiskey love and a handbook on the history of whiskey from 1640 to today, with a focus upon its role and reputation in America. It’s also an easy how-to guide for making your own moonshine, complete with a cocktail recipe section for when your homemade spirits are ready for enjoying. Illustrated and also containing 55 black and white photographs, it’s ideal for any enthusiast, historian or potential moonshiner.
As the book calls to attention, whiskey is one of the most challenging, personal spirits to make. “There is a reason why so many bourbons are named after people, and so few other spirits are,” it notes. From speakeasies to George Washington’s stills, it’s deeply embedded in American culture. With the contemporary whiskey scene bustling and a new, emerging class of bourbon drinkers always growing, this book is a great guide.
“The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey” is available online for $30.
Photos by Lauren Espeseth