One of the newest bars in town comes from a household name in town. Eastern Kille, the excellent local distillery located (for now) at 700 Ottawa Ave NW, recently opened a beautiful new tasting room in the Wealthy business district, 634 Wealthy St. SE. Between the new outpost and an exclusive release of 175 bottles of a six-year-old Single Malt whisky, I thought it was a good time to catch up with co-owner Brandon Voorhees. In the near future, Eastern Kille will move from its original location on Ottawa Avenue and expand production to 16 acres along the White Pine Trail near Rockford.
We chatted on Wednesday, and at that point Eastern Kille only had about 20 bottles left available for pre-order, so now we’re probably out of luck. That said, there were around 200 bottles to start, and a few are reserved for cocktails at the Sunday party and maybe, just maybe, there might be a few stragglers available for sale later.
Pat: So how was the opening of this new spot?
Brandon: “For a few years now we really wanted to find a second location, our
Ottawa location, we love it and it’s our OG location, but ultimately we needed a more industrial area for production, and that limited us in our locations. We like it
neighborhood, but not exactly walkable, not the best for the tasting room. This was great for a tasting and production room and we made good use of it, but we wanted to test an area that was more walkable and Wealthy caught our eye. We had scouted spots and jumped on them whenever we could. It’s walkable, has great retail stores, restaurants that people enjoy and think we might be a good addition. We’ve been open for two weeks and it’s been a wonderful two weeks so far, and we’ve apparently been welcomed with open arms as well as our guests.
Pat: Can you tell me that single malt story?
Brandon: The rest of this year, as we leave the Grand Rapids site, we’ll be highlighting our favorite barrels we’ve dropped since we opened. They are all between five and seven years old, about our age. We select some of the very first casks we put down that are worth sharing and this single malt is really unique, really enjoyable. We used to sell a single malt in distribution at the time, but ended up stopping so we could let them sit longer. It sat for six years, becoming riper and better tasting over time.
Pat: So what’s in the future that people can look out for?
Brandon: The future of Eastern Kille is strong growth. We are building the new facility which will increase our production up to four times more than today. There are many more barrels in our future. As soon as we move in next summer, we’ll have an outdoor cocktail garden, a restaurant for the first time, and a more unique user experience that hopefully mirrors Kentucky distilleries a bit.
What did Pat drink?
I had two amazing dinners prepared by Essence Restaurant Group Jeremy Paquin and his
Bistro Bella Vita and Grove teams. They were both specialty wine dinners, which I tried to hit more recently, which in turn were led by Essence Beverage Manager and Advanced Sommelier Tristan Walczewski. Monday at the Bistro was with Scacciadiavoli Wines and winemaker Iacopo Pambuffetti was in town from Italy. The pork stew and prime rib were excellent, oh, and the gianduia dessert too!
Tuesday was Grove’s turn, with Wyncroft Wine, a winery right next to Pullman that I can’t wait to visit now. I had one of my favorite wines I’ve ever tasted, a barrel fermented wine
Chardonnay which had wonderful toasted marshmallow and vanilla wafer notes.
After talking with the Reserve team for an article in the November/December issue, these wine dinners offer these high-end restaurants a great way to engage more with diners eager to get out and see the world in a new way. day after the pandemic.
So be sure to visit the Essence, Reserve and other restaurants, like Little Bird, to
specialty drink dinners that enhance the dining experience. (Normal disclaimer: my sister is a partner at Essence, but I do my best not to let that color my opinion of restaurants.)
One last hurray for Gin and Tonics
On my weekly Whiskey Friday, I’ll serve G&Ts one last time before letting it really settle down. It’s mainly because I just received one hell of a gin, Tulchan Gin, from the whiskey paradise of Speyside in Scotland. I’m sure I’ll be throwing in a few other options as well, including one of my favorite Gray Whale Gin.