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New York Distilling Co debuts Jaywalk

The craft whiskey brand is celebrating a new Brooklyn distillery and debuting a line of rye whiskeys under the Jaywalk label.

NYDC has launched a three-strong line of rye whiskies under the Jaywalk label

Heavy rain couldn’t deter New York’s whiskey-drinking faithful from supporting New York Distilling Co (NYDC) on 27 February. A pillar in New York’s craft distilling scene, NYDC recently moved its distilling operations from Williamsburg to Bushwick, adopting a new brand identity in the process. The facade of the distillery reads ‘Jaywalk’ in large white letters, the common New York pedestrian manoeuvre now the name of the brand’s new line of rye whiskeys.

“We have a home but in many ways we feel like we’re starting from scratch,” said Allen Katz, co-founder and distiller at NYDC. At the party, he was impossible to miss, sporting a fuzzy red coat and laughing with guests. “This is not a do-over. This is a progression of almost 14 years since.”

The new 15,000 sq ft distillery will provide space for production, blending, and bottling while complying with fire regulations. “More space is key,” he said. “In our home in Williamsburg, we were in a one-room schoolhouse.”

Guests were invited to lay their eyes on the new space and contribute to a graffiti-inspired mural, but the real attraction was the whiskey. Jaywalk rye debuts with three expressions, all of which use Horton rye, a 17th-century heirloom grain native to New York, in varying proportions.

Jaywalk Straight Rye comes from level-three char oak barrels aged for six, seven, and eight years. It is bottled at 46% ABV, priced at US$50, and intended for rye-based cocktails like a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. Jaywalk Bonded bears a seven-year age statement, is bottled at 50% ABV, and priced at US$55. Jaywalk Heirloom Rye is an annual single barrel offering bottled at cask strength and priced at US$119 for 700ml.

NYDC worked with Pedersen Farms in Seneca Falls to grow the Horton rye, which started with just 10 seeds provided by Cornell University’s College of Agriculture. “We had to grow enough at first just so we had enough to distil. We’ve been distilling for seven to eight years, and learning about this rye,” Katz said, noting that small grain head results in compacted sugars and flavours unlike any he’d tasted in domestic or international ryes, offering notes of mango and caramelised pineapple.

The new whiskies and distillery represent a pivotal milestone on a journey that started in 2011, when Katz and Tom Potter founded the brand. Rooted in the New York ethos of heritage, individuality, and artistic expression, Jaywalk represents the beginning of a new phase for Katz.

“I couldn’t have told you three or four years ago that the brand would be called Jaywalk rye, but we’ve been working toward the idea of this whiskey,” he said. “A contemporary rye whiskey that is simultaneously based on about as historic a grain variety as I believe anyone’s sourced today.”

In 2020, NYDC was forced to change one of its recipes due to EU-US tariffs, which have now been suspended until March 2025.

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