Jersey Artisan Distilling Kicks off the Craft Booze Craze in NJ

2013-08-18 16.49.07

Any regular at the local liquor store can attest to the growing number of craft beers that fill the shelves and then quickly disappear into the hands of happy customers. Now it’s time to prepare for the next wave of the craft booze trend: artisan spirits.

During the month of August, engineer Brant Braue and lawyer Krista Haley are making history as the owners of Jersey Artisan Distilling, the first distillery to open in New Jersey since the end of prohibition. After lots of hard work and some help from the community at the distillery’s various bottling events, the first batch of its Busted Barrel Silver Rum is making its debut in bars, restaurants and fine liquor stores across New Jersey. The distillery is in the process of aging its dark rum, with a projected launch in October 2013, and will produce vodka, gin, whiskey and bourbon throughout the upcoming years.

So how did an engineer and a lawyer become the owners of New Jersey’s first distillery since the repeal of prohibition? Brant Braue and Krista Haley, founders of Jersey Artisan Distilling, each had unique reasons for becoming a part of the craft spirit industry. For Brant, owning a distillery had always been one of his aspirations. It is a position that fulfills all of his needs, combining his creative talent as an engineer with his inherent love for making others happy. Krista, on the other hand, got involved in the business because of her former experience as a lawyer. With the New Jersey government’s groundbreaking decision to permit craft distilling earlier this year, Krista became interested in the legal aspects of the business. Upon discovering that she and Brant could be the first to receive the piece of history that is now JAD’s license to distill, Krista’s competitive side was awoken and she immediately took action to transform a mere concept into a reality.

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[photo source: Jersey Artisan Distilling]

As native New Jerseyans, Brant and Krista are proud to label their spirits as “New Jersey Distilled”, a description that only applies to liquor made with at least 51 percent Jersey-sourced raw materials. The distillers believe that New Jersey is home to some of the best produce in the world, and that there is no better way to express their Jersey pride than by using the abundance of local agricultural goods to make their spirits. Though the Busted Barrel Silver Rum is made with molasses from Louisiana, Brant and Krista plan to support local farmers by sourcing products such as Jersey sweet corn for their gin, vodka, bourbon and whiskey. That being said, New Jersey’s recently passed distillery laws will be of benefit to more than just the boozers out there. In fact, it will have an effect on the state’s entire economy, creating new jobs, increasing tax revenue, and providing tourists with new reasons to travel throughout the state.

Although the New Jersey government currently limits distilleries to producing 20,000 gallons of liquor per year, Brant and Krista have no doubt that the craft spirit trend will catch on quickly. In fact, it already has in other parts of the country, contributing to the 30 percent increase in nationwide whiskey sales over the past decade. As opposed to the nameless, faceless corporations that mass produce their liquor, artisan distilled spirits have a unique identity that tends to draw in consumers. They are made with a certain passion that cannot be replicated outside the realm of craft distilling, a passion that has consistently kept bottles of artisan spirits flying off the shelves.

Despite its very recent launch, JAD is already finding it hard to keep up with the demand for its products. According to the distillers themselves, a taste of the Busted Barrel Silver Rum is a drinking experience unlike most others. The rum has a smooth, buttery taste and provides consumers with a truly enjoyable beverage, free of the bite that one might expect from a typical silver rum. “We’re not doing anything different,” Brant states, “we’re just trying to do it a little better.”

Jersey Artisan Distilling Website

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