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Second DC distillery since Prohibition to open in Ivy City in late summer

A rendering of One Eight's future digs

One Eight Distilling, the District's second distillery since Prohibition, is renovating a 12,000-square-foot industrial space at the corner of Okie Street and Fairview Avenue NE in Ivy City. Cofounders Sandy Wood and Alex Laufer are aiming for a summer 2014 opening for the space, which will house a tasting room and offices as well as production facilities for the label's gin, vodka and whiskey offerings.

The building is currently occupied by D.C. Cash and Carry, a wholesale goods supplier that will continue to have warehouse space in the building separate from the distillery. Open Studio dc, a screenprinting studio for artists, will occupy the second floor sometime this summer.

One Eight Distilling's only competitor on the scene is New Columbia Distillers, makers of Green Hat Gin. The competition is only five blocks away, but Wood says that's because there are only so many industrial spaces left in the city in which one can house a distillery. For its part, One Eight will offer District Made Vodka, Ivy City Gin and four different varieties of whiskey, including a white whiskey Wood compares to moonshine in that it doesn't have to age.

"We've had lots of positive feedback and interest [in the distillery]," says Wood. "We bring an interesting new element to craft industries. In that respect, D.C. has been lagging behind other major markets."

The distillery is just one of several substantial projects springing up in Ivy City. The Hecht Co. warehouse redevelopment project kicked off in January; the mixed-use project combines residential units, parking and retail space, and is slated to bring a Mom's Organic Market and a Planet Fitness to the former warehouse at 1401 New York Ave. NE. Food incubator Union Kitchen plans to open a second location in Ivy City at the end of the year. And both the Angelika movie theater and Landmark cinema plan to open multiplexes in the greater area in 2015.

Wood says he is networking with area liquor stores, bars and restaurants to bring One Eight hooch to the thirsty masses. "D.C. is an anomaly, in that we can distribute our own product," Wood explains. "We're planning on packing and distributing it ourselves." Spreading the spirits to other states and other markets should follow "relatively quickly" after that.

In the first year, the outfit will offer tastings only, due to existing legislation that does not allow distilleries to serve alcohol as a full-service bar would. Wood hopes that in the future, One Eight will be able to act as a full-service bar and partner with caterers to host events in the tasting room. 

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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