Discover Great Jones Distilling Co., The First Whiskey Distillery In Manhattan Since Prohibition

Great Jones Distilling Co., Manhattan’s first whiskey distillery in over 100 years, successfully opened its doors in August and represents a landmark moment for spirits and New York City history.

Photo Credit: Proximo Spirits

Great Jones Distilling Co. was founded by Proximo Spirits and the passionate vision of owner and 11th generation spirits maker, Juan Domingo Beckmann. The idea was born from the belief that the best spirits should be the embodiment of their origins, threading the history of bourbon in New York to the present day. To celebrate the best that New York has to offer, the whiskies are made exclusively with grains grown in the rich ebony soil of the Black Dirt region, less than two hours north of Manhattan, in Upstate New York. Great Jones whiskies are smooth, balanced and complex, with distinctive spiciness characteristic of the New York-grown grains from which they are made. More spice, less sweet – more New York.

Project Manager, Andrew Merinoff, recently pulled back the curtain to reveal what makes Great Jones Distilling Co. so unique, why the distillery chose Manhattan, of all places, as well as his own involvement in the liquor industry.

  • How did you get involved in the liquor industry?

At a young age, I was interested in business, especially within the hospitality industry. I joined the Proximo team a little over six years ago to work on something they dubbed, “The Manhattan Project,” where the Great Jones Distillery Co. journey began. When I was brought into the company, we had the mission of trying to provide Manhattan’s first whiskey distillery in over 100 years. That piqued my interest right away, as my grandpa was ‘working’ with distilleries during prohibition, and the day prohibition ended is when my family’s company had started. My family has been in the spirits business for decades and being the fourth generation in it was no easy task. There were big shoes to fill!

Talent Resources Writer and Actress, Rachel Heller

Photo Credit: Style Bistro

  • Is it easier to create a distillery elsewhere? Why NYC?

What makes Great Jones Distillery Co. special, is it’s built in the melting pot of the world. Distilleries are built horizontally, and in industrial zones that were created for manufacturing. Great Jones Distillery’s case was very different. Not only was its use never manufacturing, but it was wedged between two residential buildings, and rather than built horizontally, it was constructed vertically. The building required numerous upgrades, restructuring the highest standards of safety.

  • What were the most challenging aspects of the project?

The project was full of challenges, but the major ones were the floor plans, rewriting fire codes, and engineering.

With four food and beverage venues (The Grid, The Tasting Room Bar, The Speakeasy, and The Lounge), two kitchens and a gift store all planned to the inch, if something had to be altered, that would shift the floor plans, resulting in 6,000 layout iterations. This had never been done before so there was no playbook. We had to write it ourselves. If there is an agency or department in NYC pertaining to anything from building, agriculture, fire, safety, government, community, etc., we worked with them. There was a ton of engineering behind this project. We had to drop the entire second floor by five feet and re-enforce it to hold a substantial amount of weight, drill through MTA subway tunnels while trains were operating, in order to upgrade the utilities drastically, and rebuild the substructure.

Photo Credit: Proximo Spirits

  • Will you be conducting tours of the space on a daily basis and tastings?

Yes, we will be conducting tours and tastings Wednesday through Sunday, from 12pm to 2am, with multiple activations to pick throughout the day such as: Distilling New York, Bourbon and Bites, The Shake-up, and Canapes and Cocktails. To find more information, CLICK HERE.

  • Does the restaurant have special pairings with the whiskey?

Our Head Chef, Adam Raksin, includes dishes on the Grid’s menu that are perfectly paired with, and containing, Great Jones Straight Bourbon, Great Jones Four Grain Bourbon, and Great Jones Rye Whiskey.

Photo Credit: Proximo Spirits