A distillery will open in Hyattsville sometime next year.
Sangfroid Distilling will make brandy, whiskey and the classic Dutch version of gin, known as genever, in a space to the right of the TESST building on Route 1 in Hyattsville’s historic downtown.
The distillery is the project of two brothers-in-law, Nate Groenendyk and Jeff Harner. The two have been brewing beer and hard cider for fun for about a decade and decided a few years ago to get into distilling.
Groenendyk, 39, a math coach at a D.C. public charter school, was intrigued by Dutch-style gin, which his grandparents had always said was superior to the more common British gins most Americans are familiar with. “The gin we drink now is like a juniper-flavored vodka,” he complained.
Harner, 34, who works for the Government Accountability Office, said he first became interested after he visited Kentucky bourbon country and was disappointed not to see more small-batch producers. “We can do it better and more authentically,” he said.
He planted some apple trees in the front yard of his Takoma Park home to experiment with and recently bought a 45-acre farm in Western Maryland to expand the operation. The farm consists of a number of 80-year-old red delicious and yellow delicious trees, but Harner has been topworking them to graft heritage varieties like Ashmeads Kernel, Arkansas Black and Limbertwig.
The two plan to have a 100-gallon whiskey still and a 50-gallon still for the brandy and gin in the back of the location, with a large glass window to allow people in the tasting room to see the operation.
Though the whiskey will need to age for a year, the distillery will be able to sell brandy and Dutch-style gin not long after opening. They plan to do tastings several days a week in a small space at the front of the distillery, installing a garage-style door to allow them to open out onto the sidewalk on nice days.
Under Maryland law, customers can sample a maximum of three half-ounces in a tasting room as long as it’s part of a distillery tour. The owners can also apply for permits for special events a few times a year such as during the Hyattsville Arts and Ales Festival.
Sangfroid is just the latest alcohol-related venture in downtown Hyattsville. It joins neighborhood stalwart Franklins Brewery and the upcoming Streetcar 82 Brewing Co. and Maryland Meadworks, not to mention a number of other businesses that serve microbrews and cocktails in the area.