SOUTHINGTON — Owners of Kinsmen Brewing Co. are looking to open a whiskey and bourbon distillery at the former factory building on Canal Street.
Town planners gave approval for the expansion last week and company officials hope to open in March.
Bruce Staebler, a Kinsmen owner, said the distillery will be its own entity for legal and regulating reasons but that it’s a continuation of the Kinsmen philosophy with the same owners.
“We’re going to try to tie even more so with local agricultural communities so we’re pulling products from local suppliers,” Staebler said.
The Clark Brothers factory building has high ceilings which were necessary for the drop forging of carriage bolts. Staebler said the high ceilings are useful for fitting in the distillery equipment as well as storing the barrels in which the whiskey and bourbon will age.
“We’re going to put the still in (the new space) and wrap it with glass so everyone can see the operations,” he said. “We need a lot more room for cooperage to barrel-age all of the product.”
Sauced at Kinsmen offers pizza to Kinsmen Brewing customers. The distillery will have its own menu that will include items that pair with whiskey and bourbon.
“It’s going to be a little bit higher end, it’s going to have a different menu,” Staebler said. “We’ve tripled the size of the kitchen. That side will have its own exclusive menu… We’re going to have some pasta and some steak, stuff like that.”
Todd Clark of Blue Moon Design is laying out the plans for the distillery space within the factory. While the brewery emphasizes casual, the distillery will have its own look.
“They’re planning an upscale venue,” Clark said.
Local approval was the first step in the regulatory process. There’s more rules surrounding distilleries than breweries, Clark said.
Lou Perillo, the town’s economic development coordinator, was pleased about the prospect of a distillery in town. He’s been hoping to attract such businesses and others that make Southington a recreation destination.
In addition to the one planned near Kinsmen, he’s hopeful about a distillery on West Main Street at the former H.D. Smith building that’s been in the works for years.
“They’re still going. They’ve been renovating their building. They’ve been slowly doing a lot of work,” Perillo said.
Both the Clark Brothers building and Factory Square downtown were examples of reused old buildings that now draw people to town.
“We’re working on a few more things,” Perillo said. “Southington’s a fun place to be in right now.”