Pretty soon the old Riverhead firehouse will serve the community in a different way.
With hopes to open August 1, Montauk Distilling Co. is finishing renovations on a more than 3,000-square-foot-space next to North Fork Brewing Company that will make the location double the good time it already is.
Owner Leucio Iacobelli acquired his half of the building back in 2019, spending the latter half of last year bringing the space up to code and installing plumbing. Then the coronavirus caused more delays, pushing his initial opening date back further. Now Iacobelli is more than ready to open his doors and invite the community safely into the new tasting room.
The space will be divided into two parts, the tasting room in the front with a large bar, TVs and tables that lead to a garage door with outdoor seating — and the distillery with all the products — gin, bourbon, whiskey and brandy — made in house from local ingredients.
“It’s a working distillery, and all of our product is going to be made in one place right now,” Iacobelli said. “Everything is going to be sourced from Long island or upstate New York — the corn, wheat, fruits, floral arrangements or botanicals that we will put in the gin.”
Previously, Montauk Distilling Co.’s products were made in a facility in Westfield, New York since 2013, but now with a complete setup in the back, all the production will move to the Riverhead location. Iacobelli also hopes the tasting room will be more than just that, with plans to serve other local beverages and host tours of the facility in the future that showcase how the product goes from “grain to glass.” He believes Riverhead is the ideal place for that.
“Riverhead is the perfect stop between the two forks,” Iacobelli said. “It makes a lot of sense logistically for our distributors. It’s a beautiful, old town. It’s a town that has a lot of history. Why not use a building that has such a rich history?”
Iacobelli only wanted to change the parts of the building that he had to. One of the things he felt was important to keep is a board that lists the names of firefighters who have served the community, something that hung in the building when it still served as a firehouse.
“We don’t want to take anything away from the firehouse, we just want to add to it,” he said. “We want to add to the community. I’m excited about creating a beverage that people will like — having a bourbon where people can actually say ‘this is from Riverhead.’”
Last year, Matt Ellis joined Montauk Distilling Co. as head distiller, making the move over from Long Island Spirits.
“I’m on my back nine,” Iacobelli said.”I just want to do something, keep myself busy. Matt and the other people working with the company are young. They are going to help build this company.”
Soon, with a brewery and distillery sharing one building, it’ll be a left for beer and a right for the harder stuff. Montauk Distilling Co. is already available for curbside pickup from Wednesday to Saturday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., and in restaurants and liquor stores on Long Island and New York City.