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D.C.’s next distillery, Republic Restortatives, is 100-percent female-owned. That’s a fact that longtime friends and founders Pia Carusone and Rachel Gardner plan to fully promote and advertise when their Ivy City operation opens this summer.
The duo has been far outnumbered by the opposite sex at distilling conferences they’ve visited in Kentucky and elsewhere. “We’ll meet people and they’ll say, ‘So, it’s the two of you and who else?,'” Carusone says. “They’ll look around like, where’s the guy?” Carusone points out that while there are a number of women distillery owners, they tend to be part of husband-wife teams.
Carusone was previously executive director of former Rep. Gabby Giffords‘ gun violence prevention organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, and continues to consult for the group as a senior advisor. Gardner has a background in natural resource development. The two have been talking about the idea of opening a distillery for at least five years. “We both enjoy drinking whiskey and talking about how it’s made,” Carusone says. “The more we learned, the more we liked.”
Republic Restoratives will focus on bourbon. “It’s a distinct American whiskey. It is the whiskey defined by this country,” Carusone says. “It’s legally only produced here, and it seems like the nation’s capital should have its own bourbon.” Carusone says they could have a bourbon on the market as soon as 18 months after their launch, but they won’t release it until they’re happy with it.
As its bourbon ages, Republic Restoratives will produce a vodka that’s “charcoal-polished”—a filtration process that leaves a “smooth, clean, crisp” product. The distillery will also sell cordials, although specifics are TBD. With a 1,000-gallon capacity still, Republic Restoratives has ambitions to eventually sell its products nationally.
At the same time, the business will have a distinctly local focus. The facility will have a tasting room and retail shop that sells (mostly) locally made bitters, tonics, and other products, including some made from Union Kitchen’s forthcoming commissary next door.
Republic Restoratives recently launched an Indiegogo campaign with the hopes of raising $75,000. They’ve already exceeded that goal and are now pushing for $100,000. In addition to perks like your name on the wall or a set of coasters, the distillery is essentially pre-selling alcohol at a discounted price through its campaign. So, if you give $25, you’ll get a bottle of vodka when the distillery opens.
Republic Restoratives, 1369 New York Ave. NE; republicrestoratives.com