Local Gem: Bully Boy Distillery

Ever since a friend recommended I try her Marker's on the rocks a few years back, I was sold.  At first taste, whiskey can seem like it is all bite, but there is really much more to the flavor.  Its creation is quite an in-depth process from the distillery to your local watering hole. 

Kentucky (Maker's Mark), Tennessee (Jack Daniels) and Cork, Ireland (Jameson) are no longer the only venues to visit in order to see how whiskey was made.  As of a few years ago, brothers Will and Dave Willis from Sherborn, MA changed this.  The two were in the corporate world and decided to leave that for what was right under their noses, with contents from a former speak easy in the basement of their fourth-generation farmhome.  Their great-grandfather (student at Harvard, roommate of Teddy Roosevelt, causal...) had created a vault of local craft liquors during the time of prohibition.  In recently dusting off the historic collection, the brothers knew that they had to reintroduce this into the 21st century.  Within the vault, they discovered a plaque with the words: “Bully Boy: A willing and patient Family instructor. March 17, 1926.” The name belonged to a draft horse on the farm in the 1920s, which they believed to be homage to President Roosevelt, who coined the term “bully” to be used in a positive light.  Think it's a coincidence that the plaque is dated for one of the biggest drinking holidays around??

Dave and Will oversee each step of the distilling process in their small-batch distillery in Roxbury, MA.  This includes copper distilling, vaporizing, boiling, barreling, and everything in between.  In the final stages of production, the brothers label each bottle by hand, at 150 bottles per batch!  It is clear that the guys focus on quality over quantity.  They keep it local in obtaining ingredients from within New England as well as selling to Boston-area restaurants such as Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar (both in Fenway/Kenmore) and Toro (South End).  They also list local retailers on their


so you can fill your liquor cabinet with this local staple.

The Willis brothers open the distillery doors M-F for tours, and request that you call ahead.  Without question, it sounds like we have the perfect location for our next JUGs field trip!  I will most definitely be trying the white whiskey!

- Meredith