Short Path Distillery Embracing Boston’s ‘Spirit of Innovation’
One of the things that makes Portland, Maine such a great area to visit if you’re a fan of good beer and farm-to-flask spirits, is each facility’s friendly proximity to one another. Take the booming East Bayside neighborhood where Rising Tide Brewing and Maine Craft Distilling take up residence in the same building and standout nano-brewery, Bunker, is less than a mile away. Or even more impressive, look at the proven craft beer incubator at One Industrial Way, which nurtured the likes of Maine Beer Company, and now houses exciting upstarts like Bissell Brothers and Foundation Brewing—all in the comforting shadow of Allagash.
Now Everett is emulating that same communal format at the industrial parks near Santilli Highway (adjacent to Teddie Peanut Butter), as they welcome in Short Path Distillery this spring. Located at 71 Kelvin Street, mere steps from Night Shift Brewing, the new 4,000 square foot distillery features the work of childhood friends Jackson Hewlett, Zachary Robinson, and Matt Kurtzman. Using Hewlett’s background in engineering and Robinson’s training as a chemist, the trio says they want to create innovative products that change the way people think about gin, whiskey, and just about every other type of spirit.
Named after the technical term for pot distilling, Short Path is meant to represent the intersection of boundary-pushing scientific methods, traditional distilling techniques, and a grounded sense of community—with many of their ingredients coming from Massachusetts producers like Valley Malt. Case in point, their gin which foregoes a typical botanical steeping process in favor a specially designed still that utilizes vapor-extraction through a copper basket hanging above the boil kettle. Short Path ins’t the first to employ the method—which lends a cleaner, more floral flavor profile—but it’s rare for a distillery its size.
Short Path’s other flagship product, an un-oaked white rum, is being crafted as a straight sipper, not just a companion for coconut or pineapple juice. Inspired by a trip to Northern France, where Robinson fell in love with calvados and pommeau, Hewlett helped construct a Charentaise cognac still, which they use to make a richer, more nuanced white rum that utilizes two different yeast strains and a base of blackstrap molasses.
“The white rums that are on the market now are mostly made in vodka stills and are very light bodied, non-offensive, and there’s just not much to them,” Hewlett says. “People will come back from the Caribbean and talk about how great the rum is, and that’s because the rum they drink locally is a bolder, richer, stronger rum made in traditional pot stills. That allows a lot more flavor and character to come across. So that was our starting point. Then we did a bunch of research on the different grades of molasses and settled on the boldest, richest one: blackstrap.”
In addition to the two main spirits, Short Path intends to start an aged-spirits program with their rum, as well as a whiskey. As students at Northeastern (Hewlett attended Tufts), Robinson and Kurtzman began a scotch-tasting night with their friends, and that shared affinity hasn’t left them. One of the first offerings in a planned small-batch series is a peated whiskey that pays homage to those early get-togethers. They’re also working on fruit cordials, including a calvados that will be made in collaboration with a local Massachusetts apple orchard.
But what really separates Short Path is their adherence to the scientific method, particularly in the recipe development phase. Using connections from their former careers, the three distillers spend immense amounts of time in a lab analyzing their experiments on a molecular level. That attention to detail, not to mention extreme meticulousness, can be seen throughout their repertoire.
“We arrived at our gin recipe and the botanical blend [juniper, coriander, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and lavender] because of the compatibility of the flavor molecules themselves,” Kurtzman says. “We went into a lab and using the machines at our disposal, we tweaked the recipe based on the profiles of the compounds themselves. It was a really cool way for us to introduce a science-based process, since our perception of taste is so subjective.”
Short Path expects to distribute their gin and rum to select retailers by late spring. Tours and tastings will also be available at their 1,000 square foot tasting room, which should be completed around the same time. Later this year, visitors will even be able to enjoy cocktails and mixed drinks on-premise.
71 Kelvin St., Everett; 857-417-2396 or shortpathdistillery.com.