There may be East Hampton Bubbies who churn out moonshine or Cutchogue winemakers experimenting with grappa, but the first serious—and legal—attempt to make spirits on the East End since the 1800s launches this winter in a refurbished red barn at 2180 Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow.
The brainchild of entrepreneurs and life-long friends Rich Stabile (who will head up distilling) and Daniel Pollicino (who will head up sales), Long Island Spirits builds on Stabile’s family history of small-scale wine making in Brooklyn basements as well as several years he spent training in craft distilling in the United States and around the world.
The first planned product, available for tastings at the distillery in February, will be a blend of New York–grown soft white winter wheat and Long Island-grown potatoes named LiV—rhymes with five. (Check lispirits.com for the exact release date.) “We can’t tell you the exact ratios,” says Stabile. “We came up with a remarkable blend. The crispness of a wheat-based vodka with the smoothness of potato.”
The company’s custom-built twin 650-liter (roughly 170 gallon) copper pot stills—nearly four feet in diameter, topped with a few dozen feet of 18-inch diameter columns that could be a prop from the film Brazil—will eventually churn out a high-proof pure potato vodka, flavored vodkas, eau de vies and grappas. But for now, the company is pushing its quality advantages over more common, lower-grade, and less-subtle corn-based vodkas. (It takes 15 pounds of potatoes to make a bottle of vodka, considerably more than wheat and corn.)
“We’re more interested in creating a killer vodka than trying to cut corners,” says Stabile. And, with aspirations of capturing cocktail menus from Manhattan to Montauk, how will LiV compete with the buzz-generating might of other premium vodkas? “We’re doing it right here out of a big beautiful barn next to a giant potato field,” says Stabile. And what could be cooler than that?