Cheers! Made In Bridgeport–Asylum Distillery Raises Spirits, Grain To Bottle

What does a retired General Electric chemical engineer do next? For Robert Schulten it’s creating the city’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition, from grain to bottle using corn grown in Connecticut. On Asylum Street, across from the East Side little league complex, Schulten and his team that includes wife Bridgett, who handles sales and events, and Neil Doocy, marketing and social media, work out of a warehouse that produces gin, vodka and whiskey now available in liquor stores and restaurants throughout the area. See video above to learn the Asylum Distillery process.

Asylum distillers
Ooh, the botanicals, featuring juniper for making gin.

“People want to know what they’re putting in their body,” says Bridgett who treks across the state regularly to introduce and place products in various outlets.

For a chemical engineer, it’s all about dreaming in flavors as Robert notes from their website.

I bet most people have better dreams than I do at night, but I dream in flavors! That’s how Asylum Distillery started … it’s all about making the most interesting flavors possible using locally grown corn to create craft, small-batch bold taste spirit sensations. Okay, I’ll admit, I have the best job in the world. Many people don’t know what real flavors are, but I’d like to introduce everyone to artisanal flavors, flavors that only come from the best that nature has to offer.

For me it’s an epic journey to search out the best and distill it into an incredible tasting product for those who want to try something different, local and made in Bridgeport. Asylum Distillery never adds sugar, always uses non-GMO corn and will never introduce a product you can make better yourself at home. Since our start in 2014, we try to live up to our motto, “Distilling the spirit of Connecticut”.

Bridget and Robert Schulten
Bridget and Robert Schulten at Asylum Distillery.

The process includes milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling and bottling–producing gin, vodka, oak-aged Fifth State Whiskey, unaged corn whiskey, their version of CT Moonshine, and Ginger Zap, an infusion of ginger root and vodka. The gin is made with a blend of juniper, citrus peel, cardamom, coriander and cinnamon. The result? A silver medal from the American Distilling Institute, the voice of the industry craft. Ah, gin up!

Why Bridgeport?

The proper infrastructure for such an operation coupled with a city zoned for distilling.

Why is it called Asylum Street?

We checked with city historian Charles Brilvitch as well as Elizabeth Van Tuyl who oversees the History Center at the Bridgeport Public Library. In the 19th Century poor farms, as they were called, were “asylums” for the impoverished. A poor farm stood on the site of the little league field across the street from the distillery. A street was laid out in 1866 as a road to the poor house, thus Asylum Street.

In September, Asylum Distillery will be open for tours and tastings. You can taste product on site but law prohibits them from making a drink. Why wait for the last minute? In case you want to make your own summer cocktail pleasure see recipe below. And don’t forget to buy from Asylum Distillery. You can do that directly too.

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16 comments

  1. The process includes milling, mashing, fermenting,
    distilling and bottling – producing gin, vodka, oak-aged Fifth State Whiskey, unaged corn whiskey, their version of CT Moonshine, and Ginger Zap, an infusion of ginger root and vodka. Oh yes the smell of gin, vodka and whiskey in the morning.

    Oh yes, the smell of Herman Isaacs in the morning, oh how I remember that.

    “I Love The Smell Of Napalm In The Morning”
    https://youtu.be/nx5N-4JvVyk

      1. The smell of Herman Isaacs was not the worst. Between Herman Isaac’s and the low-tech Bridgeport Water Treatment Center..this was the worst time og the year. we had the annual August menhaden fish kills..where thousands of dead and dying fish littered Black Rock Harbor. Beyond that,there were indescribable goops of matter that lined everything on black Rock Harbor. I remember, when i used to go and play on the BR Harbor beaches, that i had to scrape off the crap that was
        in the grooves of my sneakers. The BR harbor beaches were covered with tampons,condoms and even medical device refuse. That is why I got involve in the NO TO O&G movement and we did beat them. Maybe O&G was not going to play with Ganim and Testa. Who knows???

        1. Frank, those who were in PT Barnum had to deal with both smells plus the mountain of thrash that was being dump 5 days a week next door to PT Barnum which would burn for days and there was no such thing as recycling. Also the residents in PT Barnum had to placed their garbage and trash into incinerators that were in every building and it burn and the ashes were placed in trash cans and collected by public work and dump into the public dump across the street. Of course there was never any concern of what the those children health condition were by inhaling those toxic gases.

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