The folks at Brandywine Branch Distillers in Elverson are in especially good “spirits” these days, having recently come away with the top prize in the “Best Gin” category at the 2018 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition.
A panel of esteemed spirits judges selected the spring-inspired Equinox Expression from the distillery’s group of Revivalist Botanical Gins.
“The award is a game-changer for us,” said Don Avellino, CEO of Brandywine Branch Distillers. “We had no expectation of winning this competition since we were going up against some of the best-known brands in the world.”
Equinox Expression beat out approximately 50 other gins from all over the world. It earned a Double Gold rating, Avellino said, which means all the judges on the panel gave it a gold score.
Brandywine Branch Distillers got its start in 2014 when Avellino and his wife purchased an eight-acre farm, including a 19th-century stone barn, in Elverson.
The barn on the property was known by locals as the “hippie barn,” Avellino said, because in the 1960s and 1970s, a group of young “hippies” lived on the property and painted psychedelic designs on the beams upstairs.
Avellino and his wife spent a good part of 2015 making extensive repairs and renovations to the barn and property before starting the business.
Today, the property houses a distillery and a bistro in its beautifully restored barn.
Throughout the repair and renovation process, Avellino worked with Mark Cohen, Senior Vice President at Malvern Bank, National Association.
“Getting the property into shape to accommodate a distillery and bistro was capital intensive,” Avellino said. “Mark, along with (CEO) Tony Weagley and the Malvern Bank team, have been supportive of us all along the way.”
“It was great to see all the hard work that Don and his team have endured being recognized by the New York World Wine and Spirits award,” said Cohen. “I’m happy that Malvern Bank could play a part in their success.”
Currently, the distillery is home to two product lines: Revivalist Botanical Gins and Resurgent Whiskeys. The company hopes to add new products in the future.
There are five types of botanical gins. Four are based on the seasons of the year: Equinox, Summertide, Harvest, and Solstice. The fifth, DragonDance, is the only jalapeno-infused gin in the country.
The distillery also produces four types of whiskey: one rye whiskey and three bourbon whiskeys.
Its portfolio of spirits is available for sale at the distillery. They are also available in fine dining and drinking establishments in Pennsylvania, as well as in retail liquor stores and bars and restaurants in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Florida, and Michigan. Soon, they will be coming to Washington, D.C., and Maryland.
With regard to gin, Avellino said his company is trying to disrupt that category.
“We want to show people that gin can be very flavorful,” he said. “So we selected a product for each season of the year. Each seasonal gin expression has different botanicals to make each one taste differently.”
Avellino said that the finest gins begin with botanicals, including herbs, flowers, spices, and fruits. The gin flavor profile at Brandywine Branch Distillery runs from very light to very bold.
“We are trying to win over vodka drinkers who are afraid of the gin category,” he said.
The Brandywine Branch Bistro features farm-to-table foods, including local produce, artisan cheeses, and freshly picked orchard fruits and berries, along with locally raised, free-range poultry, heritage pork, and free-range beef.
The bistro is under the direction of Natasha Yruel, a chef born and raised in northern California, and features everything from small plates to salads and finger foods to full dinners. The menu at the Bistro changes frequently, as the seasonal availability of local foods changes.