December 12, 2019
“I had experimented in backyard bootleg distilling and enjoyed the cocktail scene in New York and Los Angeles,” he says when asked about his entry into the industry. “I started taking classes in entrepreneurship and finance, got an internship and a few apprenticeships in the business, and the rest is history.”
Most days, Nate is working on a distillation or a batch prep, bottling cases, receiving or sending shipments, and checking on old batches to make sure they’re aging properly. He also spends a fair amount of time in the field doing marketing and sales: about 30% of his time is spent making sure Corgi has people to sell gin to.
A lot goes in to making Corgi’s gin. It all starts with a base spirit of potato vodka watered down to just below bottling strength at 74 proof. This base is then heated and infused with raw botanicals that steep for hours in giant tea bags. The distillation processes uses an iStill, a computerized version of a classic pot still made in the Netherlands.
Corgi creates “maceration style” gins, which typically produce bolder, more intense flavors than other methods. Once they have a botanical flavor profile in mind, they’ll test batches with slight variations depending on the gin’s intended use: sipping vs. cocktail gin.
“It’s always fun to get input from the whole team and make sure we’re producing a product we can all be proud of, and that continues to push the envelope of flavor profiles the way we hope,” says Nate.
Most of Corgi’s recipes come from a simple flavor idea, such as from a cocktail or a dish. Their flagship flavor is the Earl Grey, a spoof on the infused gins found in a lot of high-end bars in NYC, while their seasonal flavors allow them to push the envelope.
The winter Very Merry, for example, is a play on figgy pudding, while summer’s Garden Party features cucumber, celery root and thyme. Spring’s Bee Blossom is a fun floral gin with honey sourced from North Bergen, while in fall they make a smoked gin with orange and apple cider for a hunting lodge vibe suited to the decor of the Corgi Spirits building.
“We’re in the warehouse district of Bergen-Lafayette, but when you walk in, it’s like stepping into a British hunting lodge,” says Nate. “While the atmosphere and the cocktails seem elegant and sophisticated, we as a team are extremely down to earth and approachable.”
We have a lot of locals on the staff that are proud to be a part of such a unique project in Jersey City, and our goal is really to just be a part of and a place for the community.
Nate says there’s a lot going on in JC, which is home to dedicated local entrepreneurs who are trying to conscientiously develop the area while maintaining the spirit of Jersey City.
“More than that, though, everyone here supports each other. We try to share business and talk each other up. It’s a real sense of belonging if you really buy into it.”
Corgi helps foster this belonging with a full calendar of events that includes flea markets, dog adoption events, burlesque shows, live bands, and singles game nights. They’ve even been approached by someone looking for juniper berries for a Game of Thrones-themed roast. Nate was happy to oblige.
The distillery also holds tours and tastings, with under 21s allowed if they’re accompanied by an of-age guardian. Corgi is open to the public from Thursday-Sunday; you can also find their spirits across New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Washington D.C., Delaware, California, and Nevada. A full list of stockists can be found on corgispirits.com.
1 Distillery Dr, Jersey City, NJ 07304