Craft spirits and community

man working distillery machine

Manchester Distillery open on Willow Street

This past August, a new distillery opened its doors on the north side of The Factory on Willow in Manchester. Manchester Distillery, founded by Liz and Jeremy Hitchcock, currently distills gin and vodka, with plans to expand their catalog, which can be purchased in their tasting room as well as state stores, and hosts events such as the upcoming Halloween block party in partnership with Double Midnight Comics on Saturday, Oct. 28.

“The craft spirits market is just a fun thing to be in, so I think the ownership group here wanted to get involved,” said Bill Tambussi, the lead distiller. “It helps bring people to the community, I think.”

Tambussi discovered his passion for distilling about 15 years ago when his sister and brother-in-law gifted him a home-brewing kit for Christmas. When it was recommended that he gain more experience after applying to a brewery, he quit his job and moved to Scotland to study brewing and distilling.

“I never did study abroad and I always liked to travel so I was definitely willing to take a leap and go see somewhere else,” he said. “My mom’s side of the family is Scottish as well, so that was kind of neat to go see where they’re all from.”

After earning his master’s degree, he moved back to Philadelphia and worked at a distillery there, followed by one in New Jersey, before becoming the lead distiller at Manchester Distillery.

“I’ve actually always kind of wanted to be up north,” he said. “I actually love the cold and snow and skiing and all that stuff, and then talking to the ownership group here I thought they had a really good vision and plan for what they wanted to bring to the market and they needed someone to do it. … What they were looking for aligned with my philosophy of making spirits … so I think it was a nice fit.”

Tambussi says his spirit-making ideology is “approachable pretension,” meaning high-level products that are made for everyone. His approach involves putting a modern spin on traditional classics by making the spirit traditionally but using the botanicals differently. The botanicals used in their American-style gin, for example, include juniper, coriander, angelica root, orange peel, lemon peel and grapefruit peel, cardamom, elderberry and almond. The result is a gin with less pine flavor, lighter on the juniper, with the bright citrus flavor.

Arriving on the scene a little too late for the main event, the Manchester Distillery will not be involved in the Distiller’s Showcase, but Tambussi says they are hoping to plan some fun events that week to draw people to the tasting room.

“We’re trying to do some sort of big [event] every month,” he said.

Coming up is the Fall for All Block Party presented by Manchester Distillery along with Double Midnight Comics on Saturday, Oct. 28, with specialty cocktails, food trucks, live music, lawn games, special sales, costume contests and more.

While the development of the business is still in the works, exciting things are on the horizon.

“We have some people here who can make some cocktails that showcase what we can do with our spirits,” Tambussi said. “We partnered with Wood Stove Kitchen, another New Hampshire-based company that makes cocktail mixers. … We’re going to try to do more Manchester Distillery-specific cocktails, which I think are going to be kind of neat and fun. … We’re working on a Halloween one with pumpkin and peach tea. There will be standard classic ones, and some small, little bit out there ones.”

Manchester Distillery
Where: 284 Willow St., Manchester
When: Thursday and Friday, 4 to 9 p.m.; tours and tasting by appointment. Hours subject to change.

Fall for All Block Party
Where: Double Midnight Comics, 252 Willow St., Manchester
When: Saturday, Oct. 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

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