One of the city’s newest bars is from a familiar name in town. Eastern Kille, the excellent local distillery located (for now) at 700 Ottawa Ave. NW, recently opened a new gorgeous tasting room in the Wealthy Business District, 634 Wealthy St. SE. Between the new outpost and an exclusive 175-bottle release of a six-year Single Malt whiskey, I thought it was a good time to catch up with co-owner Brandon Voorhees. In the near future, Eastern Kille will move out of its original Ottawa Avenue location and take its production out to 16 acres along the White Pine Trail near Rockford.
We chatted Wednesday, and at that point Eastern Kille was down to about 20 bottles available for pre-order, so by now, we’re probably out of luck. That said, there were about 200 bottles to start, and a few are reserved for cocktails at the party Sunday and maybe, just maybe, there might be a few stragglers available for sale later.
Pat: So what was the process like opening this new spot?
Brandon: `It’s been a few years now that we really wanted to find a second location, our
location on Ottawa, we love it and its our OG location, but at the end of the day we needed a more industrial area for production, and that limited us in our locations. We love the
neighborhood, but it’s not exactly walkable, not the best for tasting room. It’s been great for a tasting room and production and we’ve put it to good use, but we wanted to test out a more walkable area and Wealthy caught our eye. We had been scoping out locations and jumped on it as soon as we could. It’s walkable, there are great retail shops, restaurants that people enjoy and felt we could be a good addition. We’ve been open two weeks and it’s been a wonderful two weeks so far, and we’ve seemingly been welcomed with open arms and our guests.
Pat: Can you take me through this Single Malt story?
Brandon: The rest of this year, as we phase out of the Grand Rapids location, we’re going to highlight our favorite barrels that we’ve laid down since we opened. They’re all ranging between five and seven years, just about as old as we are. We’re picking some of the very first barrels that we put down and worthy of sharing and this single malt one is really unique, really nice. We used to sell a single malt in distribution way back when, but we ended up stopping so we could let them rest longer. It’s been sitting for six years, getting more mature and better tasting with time.
Pat: So, then what’s in the future people can keep an eye out for?
Brandon: The future for Eastern Kille is a lot of growth. We’re building the new facility that will amp up our production to four-times more than now. There are a lot more barrels in our future. As soon as we move in next summer, we will have an outdoor cocktail garden, a restaurant for the first time and a more unique user experience that, hopefully, will mirror Kentucky distilleries a little bit.
What’s Pat been drinking?
I had two incredible dinners cooked by Essence Restaurant Group Jeremy Paquin and his
crews at Bistro Bella Vita and Grove. They were both specialty wine dinners, which I’ve been trying to hit more recently, which in turn were led by Essence Beverage Director and Advanced Sommelier Tristan Walczewski. Monday’s at Bistro was with Scacciadiavoli Wines and winemaker Iacopo Pambuffetti was in town all the way from Italy. The pork ragu and beef short rib were top notch, oh, and the gianduia dessert as well!
Tuesday was Grove’s turn, featuring Wyncroft Wine, a winery just nearby in Pullman that I’m itching to visit now. I had one of my favorite wines I’ve ever tasted, a barrel-fermented
Chardonnay that had some wonderful toasted marshmallow and vanilla wafer notes.
After chatting with the crew at Reserve for a story in the November/December issue, these wine dinners are offering these higher-end dining spots a great way to further engage with diners eager to get out and see the world in a new light after the pandemic.
So be sure to check out the Essence restaurants, Reserve and others, like Little Bird, for
specialty beverage dinners that elevate the dining experience. (Normal disclaimer: My sister is a partner at Essence, but I do my best to not let that color my opinion of the restaurants.)
One last hurrah for Gin and Tonics
At my weekly Whiskey Friday, I’ll be serving up G&Ts one last time before I let fall truly settle in. That’s mostly because I just received a heck of a gin, Tulchan Gin, which hails from the whisky haven of Speyside in Scotland. I’m sure I’ll throw out a few other options as well, including one of my favorite’s Gray Whale Gin.