Bully Boy Distillers - Boston Craft Spirit Distillery
Bully Boy Distillers
Bully Boy Distillers Tour:
I recently had the pleasure of being invited to take a tour of the Bully Boy Distillers distillery by my friend and newest member of the Bully Boy Distillers team, Alex Koblan. In what appears to be no more than a warehouse district in downtown Boston, I step through a series of doors and am greeted by a gleaming 750 gallon Christian Carl Still, a combination of a pot still and column still, surrounded by giant fermenters.
I notice a wall of bottles containing clear liquids, which are mostly the evolution of their gin, I count more than twenty, which hints to me at their dedication to the product,
Bully Boy Distillers Soaking it all in:
After a few moments of awe, I notice a tall man busily scurrying from one side of the room to the other smelling different glasses filled with clear liquids then returning to check on a tank on the other side before disappearing behind the fermenters. This is Dave Willis, the Head Distiller and Co-Founder of Bully Boy Distillers. Eventually he finds a moment to say hello and I get a chance to question him on the ways that they have created some of their products. Throughout our conversation the thing that stands out is the dedication to the craft of distilling. He personally oversees almost every step of the process, most of which is done by hand. After a few minutes he says that he must excuse himself and quickly returns to the seemingly innumerable tasks he is simultaneously attending to.
Koblan then continues our tour talking about their new facility and how it has allowed them to improve their product even more through seemingly small upgrades such as climate controlled fermenters, allowing for a more consistent mash, the product that will be distilled into the final spirit, as one example. Although a seemingly small change, it allows them to not only be more consistent but also control the amount of time it takes to ferment a single mash in the ever changing Boston climate. This sometimes saves up to a week’s worth of time allowing them to get to the distillation process faster.
Bully Boy Distillers On Premise Bottling and Labeling:
From there we move on to the most automated part of their process, the bottle filling machine. It fills four bottles simultaneously, but is still hand loaded, and then usually hand labeled. Bully Boy prefers to be hands on for as much of the process as possible.
Bully Boy Distillers Barrel Room:
One of our final stops is their barrel room which Koblan says has about 130 barrels each holding 53.5 gallons, in which they age their American Whiskey for three years, in new barrels, and then take some of their used barrels to age their Boston Rum for three years.
She also points out that they recently acquired some port barrels that they have been experimenting with, after being allowed sample the aroma of the liquid inside I am definitely looking forward to tasting the finished product.
Bully Boy Distillers Sampling the Goods:
And speaking of sampling we then arrived at our final destination the sampling room, the top reason I came along for the tour that Koblan was giving us. She then whips up a couple of cocktails for us, mostly spirit forward to showcase the spirits, including an ‘Old Fashioned’ flight that included a traditional one using their American Whiskey, muddled orange, sugar, and Angostura Bitters, one made with their Boston Rum, muddled rum soaked raisins, sugar, and Angostura Bitters, and then finally one made simply with their Estate Gin, sugar, and Angostura Bitters.
It was a great way to showcase the different spirits in a familiar cocktail. After we tried a few other spirit forward cocktails, including a delicious Boston Rum daiquiri, she let us sample some of the different infusions she was experimenting with to highlight the versatility of their different products.
One of the standouts was a strawberry and mint infused white rum that she showcased in a take of a traditional sour, with lemon, egg white, and simple syrup. It made for a delightfully light and frothy cocktail that was reminiscent of a strawberry daiquiri except much more delicate and much less saccharine. She also made a peanut butter infused rum that she used to make a dessert style cocktail that tasted like a peanut butter cookie, a big hit among the peanut butter lovers in our group.
Bully Boy Distillery Bar Finishing Up:
Koblan finished our tastings by talking a little bit about how committed Bully Boy is to using local goods in their products, from the peanut butter being from a local company and using botanicals from Charlescote Farm, the family farm that the Willis brothers grew up on. This commitment to community is showcased in not only their products but also their choice to set up shop in downtown Boston. I look forward to seeing what new cocktails and products they produce in the future but until then I will continue to enjoy what they currently have to offer.
For more information about Bully Boy Distillers please visit:
To take the tour: