We relish finding delicious spirits made with the intention to celebrate a region and District Made Spirits, formerly known as One Eight Distilling, does just that. Located in the Ivy City neighborhood of Washington D.C. they have been drawing inspiration from their surroundings for the last seven years. From the Mid Atlantic Abruzzi Rye to the Appalachian All Spice berries native to the area, they focus on local. This year, they decided to rebrand to fully embody that sentiment, uniting all their products under the brand of District Made Spirits.
One Eight Distilling was originally named for Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which provided for the establishment of a district to serve as the nation’s capital. When you learn one of the founders used to be a lawyer, this name makes a lot of sense. The facility, which serves as the distillery (and a gorgeous one at that!), will remain under that name and continue to function as the tasting room and event space. The branding, shipping packages, and social handles will now all proudly proclaim District Made!
“District Made has always been a part of us. It was and still is the name of our vodka. We’ve always been proud to make spirits that reflect the Mid-Atlantic flavors and the drive, determination, and discovery that make DC great.”
A Valiant Transition
One Eight operated for years as what those in alcohol marketing would refer to as a “house of brands”. Initially, each product they made had its own unique look and design, branded as itself. Ivy City, District Made, Untitled, and Rock Creek were all made proudly by One Eight Distilling.
As they continued to experiment and grow their amazing portfolio, which label would adorn each new products became less clear. Ivy City Gin rested in barrels was released under their Untitled line. Whiskeys could be found in the Untitled line as well as the Rock Creek label. Eventually whiskey also was released under the District Made label, previously reserved for their vodka alone. Part of this was based on the noble endeavor of differentiating spirits they distilled versus blends they created from finished product. Another element was separating spirits made from locally sourced grains & ingredients from those distilled from materials grown further away during earlier days.
As One Eight progressed, their proud relationships with local farmers and capacity to age their own spirits grew. This allowed them to continue to strive towards their end goal of being as fully grain-to-glass as possible. The District Made line represented this ethos most fully and they began consolidating One Eight brands under District Made. Their efforts come to fruition today as District Made Spirits is born. Consumers can now easily explore all spirits from District Made knowing those responsible for the vodka they’ve loved for years are also behind these gins or whiskeys they’ve perhaps never tried, and purchase with confidence.
A Little History:
Sandy Wood and Alex Laufer were college roommates. After school, Sandy went on to become a lawyer while Alex went into Biotech. Later, after discovering his appreciation for the farm-to-table movement, he ran his own catering company in Maryland. Fast forward to a shared “A-HA “ moment where the two realized they needed to make something…
This led to some intense studying (as well as a little trial and error in the garage). Sandy and Alex both interned at Smooth Ambler Spirits and worked at Koval Distillery. Sandy also interned with Springbank Distillers Ltd while Alex studied distilling at the Siebel Institute under Dave Pickerell of WhistlePig fame, among others. Nine years ago, the two built their distillery and the business continues to evolve. Today, it boasts a roof full of solar panels! On a sunny day in the District, the entire distillery can run on the energy of the sun.
What’s In The Bottle?
District Made Spirits are rye forward, with one heritage rye in particular: Abruzzi. Originally from Italy, Abruzzi Rye was the preeminent rye grown for distillation through most of the Mid-Atlantic (with the exception of West Virginia and Kentucky) by the early 1900s. Abruzzi lends an amazing spice box of flavors to the District Made distillates, and imparts a wonderful toasty, bready note. District Made Spirits also utilizes malted rye, something that isn’t common in distilled spirits. All of the grains used in distillation are grown within 80 miles of the distillery!
Try Some of Our Favorite District Made Spirits
Their offerings include the first grain-to-glass straight bourbon distilled in D.C. since Prohibition. The bourbon is a four grain distillate highlighting Hickory King Corn, a crop developed in Virginia in the 1880s. They also celebrated the 5th anniversary of their distillery by releasing the District’s first Bottled In Bond Rye Whiskey!
With all that Abruzzi Rye, it makes sense that District Made produced the first rye whiskey in D.C. since Prohibition. The high malted rye content makes this a tipple worth spending some quality time with. The Beverage Testing Institute agrees, they gave it a gold medal.
Our founder Suzanne loves their Ivy City Gin—a beautiful rye distillate framing juniper, licorice, lemongrass, and coriander. It delivers a rich mouthfeel with dry herbal, citrus & floral notes and pronounced spice from Appalachian All Spice (also known as Spicebush) plus Grains of Paradise.
We love Ivy City Gin in this Rickey Recipe!
Ivy City Rickey
Not to rest on their laurels, District Made Spirits scored Platinum with their Barrel Rested Ivy City Gin. This gin spends time in a combination of charred ex-bourbon barrels and new American oak. Additionally, the inclusion of orange peel helps boltster the rye characteristics. YUM.
Now, we know we don’t spend a lot of time talking vodka here at The Crafty Cask, so when one is intriguing enough to be savored on its own, we give it its due. District Made distills their vodka from (you guessed it) Abruzzi Rye and it made Suzanne stop in her tracks and we caught it on tape!
Follow Along On The District Made Journey
As marketers ourselves here at The Crafty Cask, we know rebranding is a big decision that can pose a lot of challenges. One of which is getting fans of your original, well-loved brand to recognize and follow your new brand. So, whether you’ve been a fan of One Eight Distilling for a while now or you’re being newly introduced to District Made Spirits, head on over to their new Instagram handle @DistrictMadeSpirits and give them a follow! You can also sign up for their mailing list to stay up to date on their amazing spirits, new releases, cocktail recipes, events, and more.
Currently, District Made Spirits are available in bars and stores in D.C. MD, DE, IL, CO, and MO…but if all of you try and like them even half as much as we do, we’re sure they’ll be sweeping the nation soon!
Want to “Discover a spirit you can call your own”?
This article is a paid partnership. As always, The Crafty Cask only works with brands we know, love, and authentically support.
Jena is an event host & contributing writer for The Crafty Cask, as well as an award-winning bartender, cocktail educator, Cicerone Certified Beer Server, and Executive American Whiskey Steward. Based in NYC, Jena has been working in the craft alcohol world for the last 15 years with recipes appearing in Manhattan restaurant/bars & multiple publications. She is the 2019 Nikka Perfect Serve Global Runner Up and a 2020 Cognac Connection winner.