Founder and CEO, MurLarkey Distilled Spirits
On Tap: How did you first become involved in distilling?
Thomas Murray: The idea of opening a distillery was my cousin and co-founder, Mike Larkin’s idea. As I wrote the business plan, I knew we were on to something that could be very successful and a lot of fun, and so MurLarkey was formed.
OT: Why whiskey?
TM: Whiskey in Irish is often called uisce beatha which translates to “Water of life”. There was never a doubt that we wanted to make whiskey. We use corn and barley to make our award winning Justice.
OT: What is MurLarkey doing with whiskey that’s unique to other local distilleries?
TM: We age our Cincerity cinnamon whiskey in merlot wine barrels and infuse it with 100 percent natural cinnamon sticks. For our Clemoncy lemon whiskey, we use chardonnay barrels and 100 percent natural lemon peel and lemon zest.
OT: You offer more than whiskey though, tell us about Imagination.
TM: At MurLarkey, we’re all about flavor and all-natural ingredients.
OT: What is the tasting experience like at MurLarkey?
TM: The tasting experience at MurLarkey is a blast. We enjoy hosting a wide cross section of people from varying demographics.
OT: Are MurLarkey spirits carried at any bars/restaurants in or near the city? If so, can you name a few?
TM: Yes! Our spirits are carried at a number of DC liquor stores and are served in many bars such as the famous Jack Rose Dining Saloon. In Virginia we are carried in more than 60 ABC stores and 70 restaurants from Fairfax to Virginia Beach.
Tom’s pick: Cinnamúll made with Cincerity
MurLarkey Distilled Spirits: 7961 Gainsford Ct., Bristow, VA; www.murlarkey.com
Owner, Republic Restoratives Distillery and Craft Cocktail Bar
On Tap: Republic Restoratives is still brand new. How have things been going since you opened?
Pia Carusone: Great! Every day is still a new day though. We’re still learning the ropes of the facility, the industry, the equipment, everything really.OT: I know you hold the title of largest crowd-funded distillery in the world; has the local community continued to support and embrace you?
PC: We literally wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the early support that many of our friends, neighbors and local spirits enthusiasts offered us. The funds were critical but more than that, we’ve had the benefit of early support and excitement during a process that hasn’t been a breeze every day.OT: You started out making craft vodka at the distillery, correct? What inspired your spirit of choice?
PC: We, like many start up distilleries, decided to offer a clear spirit before our whiskey releases start, which is soon. We’re pumped that people are digging CIVIC Vodka as much as we do. The price is very affordable for a local, craft spirit.
OT: Word has it you’re now finishing a six-year Kentucky bourbon in white wine casks and a younger-sourced rye. What led you to this bourbon in particular?
PC: We did a lot of testing, sampling, asking questions etc. And when this delicious bourbon became available, we knew it was the one.
OT: Will you be making your own bourbon soon? Selling it?
PC: We make it all the time. We’ll sell it when it’s ready. Probably about 18 months from now. Depends on how it does in our puncheon barrels.
Pia’s pick: CIVIC Vodka
Republic Restoratives Distillery and Craft Cocktail Bar: 1369 New York Ave. NE, DC;www.republicrestoratives.com
General Manager of Kitchen and Bar, District Distilling Co.
On Tap: District Distilling just released its first batch of spirits since opening in August . What was your involvement in this process?
Said Haddad: While the distilling process is artfully managed by our phenomenal head distiller Matt Strickland, our team all contributes to the process in different ways.
OT: Most local distilleries seem to choose a spirit or two to focus on. What prompted your team to release a vodka, gin, rum and bourbon?
SH: Our distilling process, both creatively and productively commenced long before our opening. All of our released spirits speak to our distillers’ personal passion.
OT: What are some of the defining characteristics of your spirits?
SH: Simplicity and strength are the words I’d personally use. Our distiller has created the spirits line-up with an interesting paradox of historical storytelling via old world methodology with a creative use of ingredients.
OT: Do you have a favorite of the four? If so, what sets it apart?
SH: Buzzard Point is my personal favorite. The complexity of the panela sugar gives it a wonderful old world handmade quality that makes a baller daiquiri.
OT: Can you walk me through a few cocktails served at District Distilling that will feature these in-house spirits?
SH: El Floridita takes my love of the daiquiri and unapologetically puts Buzzard Point front and center in this adaptation with grapefruit and maraschino liqueur as well as the traditional fresh lime juice. Quid Pro Quo takes the Boulevardier, the whiskey lovers Negroni, and takes it for a ride around the city. It is tart and earthy with hints of baker’s chocolate, and our Backroom Bourbon shines through with grace.
OT: What drew you to working at a distillery-meets-restaurant/bar, and what are you enjoying most about the experience?
SH: It doesn’t take much to remind myself everyday how lucky I am. We’re aiming our sights back at the beautiful prep kitchen where distillery, bar and kitchen meet and we can brainstorm and test and play with some really out there ideas.
Said’s pick: Buzzard Point
District Distilling Co. : 1414 U St. NW, DC; www.district-distilling.com