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It’s taken more than a century for D.C. to get its first legal distillery. Now, a second is in the works.
Sid Dilawri, owner of Modern Liquors across from the Convention Center, says he’s scouting for a warehouse in northeast D.C. to produce his Filibuster whiskey. He hopes to finalize a lease in the next month or two.
A year ago, Dilawri began blending bourbon from a distillery in Kentucky, meaning he ages the alcohol but does not produce it. Dilawri currently sells a rye whiskey and a bourbon whiskey, both of which are aged first in American white oak barrels and then finished in French oak barrels, giving them additional depth and complexity. He’ll age his whiskey the same way when he opens his distillery, but it’ll take him at least four years to complete his first original batch. In the meantime, Filibuster made with alcohol from the Kentucky distillery is already available at several bars and retailers in D.C., Maryland, and seven other states.
Dilawri says he was interested in opening a distillery because of the bourbon market’s growth potential. Whereas there’s a lot of variation among scotches, Dilawri says bourbon offerings are less diverse. He initially considered setting up shop in Virginia, but ultimately, he says “D.C. is the market that I know.”
Meanwhile, New Columbia Distillers is awaiting final inspections and expects to begin gin and whiskey production this month. “What they’ve been doing, it definitely helps,” Dilawri says. “They were definitely an inspiration.”
Photo courtesy Sid Dilawri