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Beginnings

Founder Brenton Engel began his journey into spirit making like so many others: just for fun. Living on a farm near Springfield, Illinois, he Macgyver-ed together a still and began producing corn whiskey, sharing the un-aged moonshine with friends on his weekly trips to Chicago. It wasn't long before he was getting inundated with purchase requests by friends. Shortly after, he got a job behind the bar at the revered Chicago restaurant Lula Cafe. While he didn't need much more conviction to turn what started as a hobby into a full-fledged business, the new squad of Chicago chefs clamoring for bottles certainly didn't hurt.

Being Different

Letherbee stands out in many ways, most notably their seemingly indifference towards the trends of the larger craft movement. For one, their choice of spirits is starkly different than most, eschewing whiskey in favor of more unique choices like barrel-aged absinthe, Bësk (their version of malört), and gin. This ethos extends beyond just their juice. Their bottle designs, for one, are as minimalist as you can get. Their distilling space isn't much different. A windowless cavern with little in the way of distractions or fussiness. This is the mark of a good distillery, where superficialities don't get in the way of focusing on what matters.

Imbibe with ease

Letherbee loves gin. This is largely evident in looking at their offerings, particularly a seasonal autumnal and spring version. Looking for a quick recipe? Grab some Letherbee gin, mix with some artisanal tonic (ok, any tonic), add in some of your favorite bitters (we go with a custom blend rhubarb), garnish with a lime wedge. Want to amp it up even more? Add a small pour of the Bësk and you've got yourself their namesake Letherdaddy cocktail.

CHAT WITH

Brenton Engel
Founder

I started making moonshine when I was in my mid-20's because I had a passion for (drinking) whisky and I wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible. Then, soon after I began bartending, I fell in love with gin and botanically driven spirits. I thought to myself, "I bet I can make a gin that I would want to use at my bar....."

Everything we do is based on botanicals. As bartenders, creating recipes is second nature. Taking inspiration from things we enjoy drinking is very natural.

Go drink too much of everything else first - the obvious liquors (whisky, gin, vodka, etc.) Then, when you are bored with booze, try fernet and/or bësk. It might just change your (drinking) life. This stuff is typically not most appreciated by novice drinkers. Chefs and bartenders, who have tasted everything under the sun, tend to enjoy our stuff.

Too many brands sell themselves on grandiose bullshit backstories. It's absurd. I don't really care if one of your ancestors made alcohol and I don't care if you think you are genetically predisposed to making good liquor. I don't care if your recipe is secret. I don't care if you claim to put magical unicorn piss in it. Not to mention that you may just be bottling product already made at a huge distillery. Just make good stuff and sell it at a price that I can live with and be thankful that my hard earned dollars are being spent on your product. Brands need to spend less money on marketing & branding and pass the savings to their customers, or use that money improving their products.

We don't skimp on flavor. Our products are ROBUST in flavor!