FYI Philly: Local brothers open craft distillery in Kensington

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Two local brothers have taken their love of alcohol from a venture in their parents' basement -- to their own distillery in Philadelphia. (WPVI)

Two local brothers have taken their love of alcohol from a venture in their parents' basement to their own distillery in Philadelphia.

From that basement at home, they are now creating a national brand at their new distillery in the city's Kensington section.

Their recipe? A perfect mix of hard work, honed talent and humor.

Federal Distilling has only officially been operating for 2 months.

"But the whole story started 3 years ago with my brother and I basically making alcohol in our parent's basement," said Matthew Quigley, founder and head distiller.

It was almost inevitable that the brothers would one day be business partners.

"Always wheeling and dealing, making money somehow, selling baseball cards," Bryan Quigley, founder and sales manager.

"Or going and shoveling driveways or raking leaves, anything to make money as little kids," added Matt.

After college, Matt moved across the country and opened some restaurants. On a trip back home, he made his pitch.

"I said 'Hey man do you possibly want to start making vodka?' And he looked over and he was like 100%," said Matt.

"It made sense to me. We're both vodka drinkers," said Bryan.

So they converted an old beer keg into a still and secretly began bootlegging in their parent's basement.

"It was actually a workout room to start for my parents, which you know, they don't work out," said Bryan.

"Our parents found our distillery and basically accused us of making drugs in their basement and told us we had 24 hours to get it out of there," said Matt.

That's when they got serious - taking apprenticeships in large distilleries and searching for an angel investor. They took their business plan to investor, Clement Pappas.

"We talked and we drank a whole bottle of vodka," said Matt.

And Clement was in for the investment - along with his brother!

"We really saw that the craft spirit movement was taking off much like the craft beer movement is taking off, but that vodka was largely being ignored in favor of whiskey and bourbons," he said.

They set up shop in an old warehouse in Kensington on Cecil B. Moore Avenue and North Hancock Street.

It took nearly a year to renovate the space and they replaced their keg with a custom made German still which they named Big Country.

The vodka is made from 100% GMO free Missouri corn and every few weeks, they hold a bottling party which produces 2,500 bottles!

"It's 5 guys standing in a line, listening to country music or Grateful Dead and talking about everything under the sun for 8, 9, 10 hours," said Matt.

They started in 10 state stores in Philadelphia and expand in January to 20 stores. They're also in more than 2 dozen bars and restaurants.

They plan to open a tasting room in March, and say they're living the American dream.

"I don't think there's anything sexier out there than being a rock star or being a guy who makes alcohol," said Matt.

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Related Topics:
societyFYI Phillyalcoholphilly newsNorth Philadelphia
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