Earlier this week, while at a conference at the University of Kentucky, the New York senator gave McConnell a bottle of Widow Jane bourbon, apparently bottled near Schumer’s apartment in Brooklyn. Schumer bragged that Brooklyn “produces some of the best bourbon in the world,” causing McConnell, whose home state is a bourbon mecca, to joke, “There’s no such thing as Brooklyn bourbon.” While Schumer’s gesture was full of New York attitude, it turns out that the booze was actually distilled in Kentucky– only aged and proofed in Brooklyn. Bourbon aficionados took note:
Chuck Schumer's gaffe in accidentally giving Mitch McConnell a bottle of Kentucky #bourbon and confusing it for New York is deeply ironic and misses a significant story:https://t.co/Qnc19qzjCo pic.twitter.com/Bt8NOFHOCN
— Josh Feldman (@cooperedtot) February 13, 2018
Dear @SenSchumer, you missed a golden opportunity to gift @SenateMajLdr a truly Brooklyn bourbon in @KingsCoWhiskey. I'm a big fan of their efforts, especially Bottled-in-Bond (see 1897 legislation), but Widow Jane originates in Kentucky not Brooklyn. https://t.co/44gZaCbAbH
— FredMinnick (@FredMinnick) February 12, 2018
@LelandShow the bourbon Schumer gave McConnel was made in Kentucky and transported to NY for aging. That company buys filled barrels from unknown KY distilleries and makes their own like Jefferson's Reserve.
— Maurice Jones Jr. (@mjonesjr84) February 13, 2018
Kings County Distillery, however, distills, ages, proofs and bottles all of their hooch in-house from New York organic corn. In a letter posted to Instagram, the distillery invited Schumer to come visit its operation in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and even included a bottle of booze “for future regifting to Kentucky politicians, should the occasion arise again.”
Colin Spoelman, president and head distiller at Kings County, confirmed that the Brooklyn bourbon was sent to Schumer’s office, “though whether or not it gets through the gauntlet of scrutiny that checks packages for anthrax and other hazards is a different story.” He added that Kings County had done their research on acceptable gifts to senators.
Spoelman believes that where a spirit is distilled definitely “makes a difference.” A former Kentuckian and current New York distiller, he thinks “labels and transparency are very important for consumers to make educated decisions.”
Even if you’re not a top lawmaker, Kings County Distillery offers tastings and tours a few times a week– check out their website for more info. The Brooklyn bourbon can also be found at many liquors stores around the city.
It’s not clear if Schumer has plans to take the distillery up on their offer, but maybe now he’ll think twice about the brand of bourbon he gifts.