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Two East Hampton residents plan to open Matchbook Distilling Company at this site in Greenport. (Credit: Google Maps)

Brian Kwasnieski and Leslie Merinoff are planning to bring their business, Matchbook Distilling Co., to Corwin Street in Greenport. (Credit: Vera Chinese)
Brian Kwasnieski and Leslie Merinoff are planning to bring their business, Matchbook Distilling Co., to Corwin Street in Greenport. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Two East Hampton residents plan to bring a state-of-the-art distillery to Greenport.

Leslie Merinoff and Brian Kwasnieski, co-owners of Matchbook Distilling Co., received approvals from the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency Thursday, helping the couple realize their plan of building a 35,000-square-foot distilling facility on Corwin Street in Greenport. The agreement will grant mortgage and property tax abatements for the company, as well as a waiver of sales tax on manufacturing equipment, Merinoff said.

The company, which was formed in December 2015, would save $120,860 over ten years, according to the Suffolk IDA Matchbook expects to hire 11 employees by 2018, each earning an average of $40,363.

“We’ve come up with a plan we all feel happy with. We are all full steam ahead,” she said in a phone interview Thursday evening, adding that she and her partner were thrilled to bring such facility to the East End. “This is something we really want to build with Greenport. It’s just a beautiful, vibrant community.”

The pair, who have not yet closed on the property, do not plan to make spirits under their own label. Instead they hope to provide infrastructure for local farmers and aspiring distillers to create a product.

Plans also call for a tasting room on the premises.

Merinoff compared the concept to a custom crush facility, like Premium Wine Group in Mattituck, which allows small-scale winemakers to make wine under private labels.

Merinoff, who also works for the Brooklyn-based distiller The Noble Experiment, said she and Kwasnieski, 29, plan to produce “a lot of brandy” as well as other liquors.

“What you see in a liquor store only scratches the surface of what you can make spirits out of,” said Merinoff, 28. “We are going to work with local farmers as soon as we open to find out what kind of spirits can be made. Everything we are using will be sourced within New York State, but Suffolk County is our priority.”

Craft spirits is an industry that has gained a lot of attention in the past decade. While ten years ago there was only about 50 distilleries in the U.S., today there are 769, according to the American Craft Spirits Association.

The proposed location, located at 230 Corwin Street in Greenport, now consists of four buildings totaling 35,779 square feet, according to a press release from the Suffolk IDA. The structures will be renovated and outfitted as a state-of-the-art distillery for a total cost of $2.7M.

“Matchbook Distilling Company will support the County’s agriculture by helping farmers turn their high-quality produce, often sold for cents per pound, into high-end spirits worth up to thousands of times that amount,” said Tony Catapano, Executive Director of the Suffolk IDA.

While the Long Island wine industry is well-established and the region has seen several breweries built in recent years, Long Island Spirits in Baiting Hollow is the only distillery in the region. Merinoff and Kwasnieski described themselves as pioneers in the local craft spirits industry.

“It’s making the farm-to-bottle movement a lot more accessible for people,” Merinoff said.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the project plans did not call for a tasting room

230 Corwin Street in Greenport. (Credit: Vera Chinese)
230 Corwin Street in Greenport. (Credit: Vera Chinese)