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Acclaimed Distillery From Noma Alums to Open in New York

Empirical Spirits is opening in Bushwick

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Empirical Spirits street view on Google Maps.
Empirical Spirits is opening in Bushwick this year.
Google Maps

Empirical Spirits, a liquor company started by Noma alums — that specializes in spirits that sit beyond traditional categories — is set to open a New York distillery.

The team has applied for a liquor license at 53 Scott Avenue, at Johnson Avenue, in Bushwick. A spokesperson for the team confirmed a distillery and tasting room is likely to open in early 2024 but declined to further specify.

Empirical Spirits was launched in Copenhagen in 2017, by Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen, alums of the Noma world. Williams was the head of research and development at Noma, while Emil Hermansen worked for MAD, Noma founder René Redzepi’s nonprofit.

The Brooklyn opening is a relocation of its Copenhagen headquarters. The original production facility abroad ceased operations last year. Beverage publication Bevnet reported that the brand had filed for bankruptcy in Copenhagen. It claimed that it would not disrupt its U.S. sales and things are on track for the Brooklyn location.

Since its debut, Empirical became known for its unconventional spirits and fermentation techniques. The names of its spirits defy the standard “gin” or “vodka” categorizations, with names like, “FUCK TRUMP AND HIS STUPID FUCKING WALL,” referencing then-president Donald Trump. Other spirits go by the names of Helena, Soka, Symphony 6, and Ayuuk. Bottles attempt to capture the memories of references varying from the “scent of the smoked fish your grandfather served you” or “the first bite of a citrus-like ant,” almost like a perfume would, according to its website.

“Taking a flavor-first approach means that we don’t pay attention to the conventional categories. Instead, we focus on finding great ingredients and turning them into experiences triggering sense memories,” one company blog post reads.

Even before a move to New York, Empirical has been stocked at city bars for years: Most recently, at Superbueno in the East Village, Chinato on the Lower East Side, Cote’s new chicken temple, Coqodaq, and Maison Premiere’s Manhattan Tigre bar.

In New York, the Empirical bar will be led by Iain Townsend Griffiths, a drinks consultant, who has worked around the world, involved in leading the events and marketing of Empirical.

The Empirical distillery is one of just a handful of distilleries in city limits, in part due to the sheer amount of space needed, like Great Jones Distilling Co., Kings County Distillery, Forthave Spirits, and Halftone.

Eater has reached out for more information.