Grains Innovators

Celebrating the Ingenuity of Bakers, Chefs and Entrepreneurs Across the Region

Daric Schlesselman, BarleyWorldAmber Lambke, Seth Seligman, Eli Rogosa, Mary-Howell Martens, Mark Sorrells, Jessamyn Rodriquez, Blair Marvin, Peter Endriss, Negro Piattoni, Annie Moss, Danny Newburg, Kristina Razon

Daric Schlesselman, co-founder and owner, Van Brunt Stillhouse

Daric Schlesselman and Sarah Ludington, 
Van Brunt Stillhouse

To continue our rye showcase this month, the Grains team sat down with Daric Schlesselman, half of the husband and wife team behind Van Brunt Stillhouse, which opened its doors in 2012. Van Brunt produces whiskey under the New York State Farm Distilling license that requires that at least 75% of the ingredients be sourced from New York.

Daric started out as a home brewer. While working in television, he came across a story, printed on the label of a European liquor bottle, about a distillery, and he began thinking about small batch distilling. Initially he sought to make eau de vie, distilled spirits made from fresh fruit like apples or cherries, but without his own orchard, the sheer amount of fruit needed seemed cost prohibitive.

However, distilling whiskey wasn’t exactly a compromise for Daric. As a beer drinker, his palate was accustomed to malted grain flavors. Because of the burgeoning craft distilling sector, making whiskey also allowed Van Brunt to work with local farmers. In Daric’s mind, using local and traceable grain pushes against the commodification of grain as well as industrial distilling. He was looking to add ingredients that impart flavor instead of just increasing the amount of alcohol produced.

Daric also noted that, though rye whiskey’s bold spicy flavor often causes people to reach for a bourbon instead, the category is not to be over