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A food blog from NHPR news, digital, & programming staff, exploring food & food culture around the state & the New England region. On-air features air Thursdays on All Things Considered and Saturdays during Weekend Edition.

White Whiskey The Specialty For Nashua's First Distillery

There are plenty of breweries popping up all across New Hampshire, but a husband and wife recently opened Nashua’s first distillery.

And they’re producing a rather unique product: white whiskey.

Valves are pumping as Andy Harthcock runs the still at Djinn Spirits on a recent Saturday morning.

“The smell when you walk in the facility when you’ve got that volume of yeast fermenting is absolutely heavenly.”

We’re in a small warehouse in north Nashua, where Harthcock and his wife Cindy opened Djinn Spirits in December.

Harthcock says they got the name from a game of Scrabble.

“The D is silent, so it’s just pronounced ‘gin.’ And it’s a spirit. And I thought wow, that’s maybe a double or even triple entendre right there, what a great name for a business. So it kind of stuck.”

And while they do produce a type of vapor-infused gin, the distillery is getting most of its attention for its white whiskey.

It’s also known as moonshine or white dog.

The biggest difference from a traditional brown whiskey, other than the color, is that it’s un-aged.

“Now some people will say it must start with a corn or a malt of some type, but in general, it’s un-aged whiskey. The color in whiskey, the brown color, in any spirit, comes from the tannins in the wood when they’re barrel-aged.”

Harthcock still works as a full-time engineer.

He designed and built the distillery.

“It’s about 150-gallon working capacity in the kettle, so the vapor comes off the top and heads down to the floor through a sight glass and up through the column here, which is somewhat unusual for a small distillery.”

The process starts with making about 450 gallons of beer at a time, which ferments for about five days.

The beer then gets pumped into the kettle and run through the still.

From there, Harthcock says he’s working on getting it onto the shelves of a few local state liquor stores.

They do offer tours the distillery on weekends, where customers can sample and buy the product.

White whiskey is relatively new to the market, but Harthcock says he’s getting some positive feedback.

“I’ve had some people that came in that were, in particular, some whiskey aficionados, come in and say, ‘Oh, you’ve got a white whiskey. Oh, well.’ But then they try it, they try mine, and they’re very impressed. For something fun and different, it’s worth trying.”

He says the real learning curve has been on the marketing side; little things such as putting signs up on the road letting people know they’re open for business.

“From here out, it’s just going to be matter of gradually inching up the restaurants that are selling the product, how much is going through, which of the different liquor stores are selling it, and then the walk-in traffic here has been gradually picking up as people have been finding out about us.”

Djinn Spirits will hold an open house on Saturday from 10 to 5.

Michael serves as NHPR's Program Director. Michael came to NHPR in 2012, working as the station's newscast producer/reporter. In 2015, he took on the role of Morning Edition producer. Michael worked for eight years at The Telegraph of Nashua, covering education and working as the metro editor.

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