Raising Boston’s Spirits
A new Dorchester distillery takes inspiration from the ghosts of Boston’s past to craft beverages for the modern age. —Steve Holt
From the outside, the long-vacant warehouse at 12R Ericsson Street, in Dorchester, looks like any other building along the Southeast Expressway. But if the bricks and beams inside could talk, they’d tell fascinating tales about its former occupants: Silas Putnam, who forged horseshoe nails there daily from 1859 to 1909; George Lawley, who built America’s Cup–winning yachts and Navy boats for four decades thereafter; and the Seymour Ice Cream Company, which produced Nutty Buddy ice cream cones in the building until the mid-1980s.
This summer, the warehouse will be reborn yet again as the Boston Harbor Distillery, the ambitious joint project of Boston Beer Co. cofounder Rhonda Kallman (pictured, above right) and decorated local barman and spirit consultant Corey Bunnewith (left).
In keeping with their craft philosophy and the history of the space, Kallman and Bunnewith decided to name their spirits after the building’s former tenants: Putnam New England Whisky, Lawley’s New England Spirit (a riff on rum, but with Vermont maple syrup added to the still), and Seymour’s Coffee Liqueur, which uses beans from Great Barrington Roasters.
While the main goal of the project is, of course, to make booze, Kallman and Bunnewith have even bigger plans for the distillery: to turn it into a community hub, and open the space up for civic and nonprofit events. “We looked at this as the foundation for building something real and something important for Boston,” Kallman says. “It’s a community gathering place, and that’s really the vision that we have for this, and want that to happen here.”
Tastings, Monday–Friday, 4–8 p.m.; Saturday, noon–8 p.m.; Sunday, noon–5 p.m; 12R Ericsson St., Dorchester, 877-965-2200, bostonharbordistillery.com.