DC’s first distillery pub opened in August—minus its own distillations. But now that District Distilling Company is up and running at 14th and U Streets Northwest, it’s finally released its first batch of spirits: a vodka, gin, rum, and bourbon.
The spirits are produced by head distiller Matt Strickland, who specialized in whiskey at his previous gig for Corsair Distillery in Tennessee. The booze will be available in cocktails at District Distilling’s upstairs bar and restaurant, as well as by the bottle in its street-level retail shop. Several restaurants and bars are carrying the products already (Rose’s Luxury, The Passenger, Rappahannock Oyster Bar), as well as liquor stores (Batch 13, Schneider’s, Magruder’s).
Here’s a look at the lineup:
Corridor Vodka ($30*): Named after the U Street corridor, this vodka with “hints of fragrant vanilla” and a “creamy finish” is made from rye and malted barley. “I’m basically making whiskey, but just a really pure form of it,” Strickland says.
Checkerbark Gin ($32): This spin on a London dry-style gin is built for cocktails. The product gets its name from a wild juniper species, which give the gin a “pronounced savory flavor.”
Buzzard Point Rum ($30): District Distilling beat forthcoming distillery Cotton & Reed in releasing DC’s (post-Prohibition) first rum. Strickland uses panela, an unrefined sugar mostly found in South America, to give his Colonial-style rum a creamy flavor and brown sugar aroma. “There’s only a handful of rums that are done with panela, so I wanted to play with that. I’m also playing with a couple different yeast strains too,” he says.
Backroom Bourbon ($55): Strickland sourced five- to ten-year-old bourbons from several locations for this initial blend, which has “notes of fresh sweet corn, smooth caramel, vanilla, smoky oak, and rich cocoa.” Strickland says his first made-from-scratch bourbon could be released as soon as next year. “I’m working with a bunch of local farmers,” he says. “I’m not buying grain from any of the big grain houses. That’s actually another stipulation I had.”
The distillery pub is hosting a limited number of distillery tours, and tastings from 12 to 8 pm on weekends. Within the month, they will be available during all operating hours.
*Prices are for bottles at the distillery. Retailers may price the spirits differently.
District Distilling Co. 1414-1418 U St. NW; (202) 629-3787.