D.C.'s newest booze producer, Joseph A. Magnus Distilling Co., is set to open its tasting room, dubbed Murray Hill Club, and begin tours next month. (The exact date is TBD.) Bottle sales will begin shortly after that.
The distillery, located above Atlas Brew Works in Ivy City, is named after one of the most successful pre-Prohibition producers of bourbon and other spirits. Magnus' great grandson, Jimmy Turner, is behind the new operation. Murray Hill Club gets its name from Magnus' most popular whiskey brand.
Joseph A. Magnus Distilling Co. will launch with several spirits, although partner Brett Thompson (also a co-founder of Pork Barrel BBQ) isn't revealing exactly what they will be just yet. The distillery does, however, plan to produce gin as well as a range of bourbons down the line, including a number of rare and limited releases.
Former Woodford Reserve distiller and winner of the Whisky Advocate Lifetime Achievement Award Dave Scheurich helped design the the distilling setup, create the bourbon recipes, and train the distilling staff at Joseph A. Magnus.
"They're doing everything the right way, using the right equipment. Everything is done first class," Scheurich says.
Former Gin Joint at New Heights bartender Nicole Hassoun will oversee the tasting room and regularly changing cocktail menu. "Nicole always had a very experiential approach," Thompson says. "Her traditional way of making cocktails would be to ask you how you're feeling today and how you want to feel tomorrow, and then she would create a cocktail that matched up to that."
The 50-seat Murray Hill Club is outfitted with reclaimed antique oak floors, a copper-topped bar, leather sofas, and windows looking into the distillery. "We finished it much like you would find around the turn of the early 1900s during Joseph Magnus' time," Thompson says.
The distillery was built around the ability to serve cocktails. That's something that has only been possible since this spring when a new D.C. law went into effect allowing distilleries to serve mixed drinks on-premise. "We will be one of the first distillers that really gets to embrace the opportunity provided to distilleries through the change in the law," Thompson says. Murray Hill Club plans to be open Friday through Sunday initially and expand from there.
Stay tuned for more updates soon. In the meantime, check out these old newspaper clippings (below) about the original Joseph A. Magnus. At the turn of the 20th century, the main place to get Murray Hill Club whiskey was a place called McInnis Bros., which was located where the FBI headquarters now sit.
Photos courtesy Joseph A. Magnus Distilling Co.