Reboot Beverages Brings Whiskey Back to Mt. Pleasant
March 24, 2023 @ 10:00am
Mt. Pleasant has a whiskey-filled past, and Reboot Beverages is reviving its historic brands.
Under a night sky, warmed by a fire, a few drinks and good company, we’ve all cooked up big ideas. Few, perhaps mercifully, survive the sobering dawn. But for Troy Hughes and John Loughner, one late-night scheme in the winter of 2021 persisted.
Hughes owned a whiskey bottle from the early 1900s, discovered under some roof tiles by his home’s previous owners. He liked the label so much he put it on a t-shirt. His admiration might have stopped there if not for one night around a backyard fire with Loughner, where the two decided to relaunch the brand.
Today, the two friends operate Reboot Beverages, a D.C.-based startup focused on reviving historic liquor brands. Under their Mt. Pleasant Club Whiskey (MPCW) line, the company makes two small-batch whiskeys, Kilbourne Place Rye and Brown Street Bourbon. Both are available at nearly two dozen liquor stores and restaurants across the District.
The project combines many of the founders’ interests: history, whiskey and their neighborhood.
“We love Mt. Pleasant,” Loughner says. “It’s such a fun neighborhood — authentic with lots of character. We knew our neighbors would appreciate the history behind the bottle and the folks who created it, but the more we thought about it, we realized there’s a ton of history not just behind the bottle but behind this neighborhood. If we can incorporate that into each batch, that makes it more fun.”
Reboot works with area distillers to make their products, including District Made Spirits by One Eight Distilling and Bo & Ivy. So far, the two have selected whiskeys to blend and barrels for finishing, making each batch unique. In the next few years, they will begin using whiskey made just for them in a process known as “contract distilling.”
As Hughes explains, Kilbourne Place Rye is a Maryland-style rye made with more corn in the mash bill for a mellower, slightly sweeter profile. It’s been aged at least five years in new American oak barrels. They’ve released three batches of MPCW so far, averaging a thousand bottles each.
Each release honors a street in the neighborhood. Brown Street Bourbon, named after the street where the original bottle was found, is made with a mix of yellow corn, hard red winter wheat, rye and malted barley.
Hughes drinks both whiskeys neat, but he also recommends “a splash of water to open them up. They’re both 107 proof, but they don’t taste that hot.”
Neither are out of place in the cocktail that truly tests every whiskey: the Manhattan.
Alex Galiatsatos, who creates digital content for Reboot, says the whiskey’s appeal goes beyond its quality. Art by local artists, such as Natalie Levy-Costa, adorn each label. Each bottle comes with notes about what’s in and on it, as well as a brief history and celebration of the eponymous street.
In fact, there’s so much to say about historic D.C. whiskey that Hughes recently released “Whiskey Makers in Washington, D.C: A Pre-Prohibition History.” The book details an era awash with smalltime whiskey bottlers battling the temperance movement and burgeoning legal encumbrances. No D.C. whiskey fan should be without a copy of this lovingly geeky account.
Hughes and Loughner are already planning their fall releases, including a Pennsylvania-style rye, a smoke whiskey and a very limited rye finished in rum barrels.
Walking tours with Washington Walks are also on the horizon, as well as continued tastings around town. The brand recently started selling online.
There’s one more reason to love Reboot Beverages. The company donates a portion of every bottle of MPCW sold to local causes; they also bottle a Ukraine-benefiting vodka, wryly called Pukfuten. That’s well worth raising a glass to.
Reboot Beverages: reboot-bev.com // @mtpleasantclubwhiskey
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