When I travel, I like to ask people what they know about Tasmania. Five years ago, Taz the Tasmanian devil from the Looney Tunes cartoon was the best most people in the US could come up with. On my most recent visit this month, it was a different story. Yes, Taz came up, but so did Richard Flanagan and his Man Booker prize winning novel, convict history, the film The Hunter, world-class hiking and pinot noir. I even met a couple of people who between them could name three of Tasmania's award wining whisky distillers... OK, I met those people at Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, so that might be expected.
Kings County is one of a new breed of urban distillers. They make bourbon, moonshine and a few other small batch spirits from a historic building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and bill themselves as New York's oldest distiller... since prohibition that is. They've been operating since 2010. On Saturdays, you can tour the distillery and learn about the history and process of distilling from corn and malted barley and sample some of the end product, aged in American oak. There's a sunny 'whiskey garden' with pop up food providers in summer. I tried a brandy distilled from a 'dud' batch of wine from a local producer. It was delicious. They even have a super friendly distillery cat.