Whitestone resident Leucio Iacobelli has fulfilled his dream of establishing a craft distillery on Long Island serving local beer, wine and spirits.
This summer, Iacobelli and his business partner, Thomas Joyce, opened Montauk Craft Distillery Co. in the former Riverhead Fire Department station located at 24 E. 2nd St. Suite B., next to the North Fork Brewing Company.
According to Iacobelli, opening a distillery in Long Island wasn’t their first choice, until a fellow Whitestone resident informed them about the historic decommissioned firehouse that he had purchased from the town of Riverhead.
“He asked if we were interested in checking it out and after finishing our cocktail, we drove out to Riverhead and that spawned the idea of making it our location,” said Iacobelli, who works in the financial services industry.
Iacobelli and Joyce renovated the 3,000-square-foot space, which is divided into two parts: the tasting room and the distillery. The tasting room is located in the front with a large bar, TVs and tables that lead to a garage door with outdoor seating. All the products — gin, bourbon, whiskey and brandy — are made in-house at the distillery from local ingredients.
The duo came up with the idea in 2013 to open a distillery given their love for “booze and entertaining people,” Iacobelli said.
“Building a distillery is no easy task — not only for the mind but for the wallet,” Iacobelli said. “Tom and I shared a lot of meetings together — playing around with recipes and thoughts and labels to produce. We saw a growth potential with the wineries and breweries, and now with distilling.”
Iacobelli and Joyce had signed a lease agreement a year prior to the grand opening of the distillery in August.
“We’re now in the forefront and one of three craft distilleries in Long Island,” Iacobelli said. “Opening a distillery wasn’t a matter of creating a quick buck but to create a destination.”
The distillery is the label of Black Sail Aged Rum, Sunburn Cinnamon Rum, Bellamy Spiced Rum 71st Regiment Gin, MODICO Vodka and Tunney Whiskey.
“We went from producing a one-crafted beverage and now have a lineup of something unique,” Iacobelli said. “It’s all crafted in New York — the corn, grapes and apples are sourced here for our vodka, and the wheat, corn and rye for our bourbon.”
The distillery promotes localism and has established relationships with wineries and breweries serving their products, Iacobelli said.
For Joyce, who resides in Connecticut and visits the site at least two or three times a month, the success of the distillery is a remarkable feeling of excitement with a dose of accomplishment.
“To see it evolve and drive forward it almost created some momentum on its own, so to be able to open up a tasting room it was wildly exciting to see our vision come to fruition,” Joyce said.
According to Joyce, the Montauk Distilling Co. is descriptive of the lifestyle that they want their product to embody, which is being outdoors and having fun with friends and family.
“We want to capture the spirit of Montauk in everything we do,” Joyce said.
The Montauk Distilling Co. is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday and Monday from noon to 8 p.m. It’s closed Tuesday and Wednesday. To make a reservation, call 631-727-MDCO.