A new distillery that will be the first on the Treasure Coast is planning to open in downtown Vero Beach next year.
the The 21st distillery change will open in phases throughout 2022 at the current headquarters of marketing agency Ironside Press on 21st Street, founder Jeff Paleski said, provided Vero Beach City Council gives final approval next week.
Palleschi, 51, who moved to Vero Beach about 11 years ago, hopes his distillery will boost downtown’s economy as Sailfish Brewing Co.. did in Fort Pierce.
“This dropper will be like an anchor,” he said.
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Cocktails are ready with a touch of Indian River
The distillery will have an area of approximately 5,000-5,500 square feet and will include a production area, mobile lounge, bar area, education center and retail store.
“We’ll do everything,” Palese said. “In the end, we will all have lives.”
He plans to start with vodka, gin, and a cello series with Indian River citruses: lemon, lime, and grapefruit. He wants to make ready-to-drink cocktails, similar to White Claw or High Noon, but like “hard cello” without oils or extracts.
“I’ll do it the old-fashioned way,” he said. “I am half Italian, a large part of my family comes from Italy and we have a special way of making this cello.
For unique flavours, he built Rick’s home, a keg storage place, to aged whiskey and rum on a 30-foot-tall barge floating in the Indian River Lagoon. The sun, wood and constant movement affect the process.
“It would be practically impossible to imitate,” he said. “Nobody can have the same whiskey or rum because they get these notes from brackish water.”
It is hand harvested, and will be handcrafted soon
He said it was difficult to start a distillery, not only financially.
Home brewers can start in their garage before breweries open, but they can still make wine at home before distilleries open.
“The Brewers had kind of a leg,” Palleschi said. “You can’t do that in a distillery. It’s illegal.”
In the meantime, he’ll get a license to be a “blender,” not a full-fledged distillery. Masdar will enter large manufacturing facilities and purchase bulk spirits.
He plans to buy an old whiskey because bourbon usually takes four years to aged. Initially, their whiskey will be produced elsewhere, but it is bottled at Vero Beach.
“In the meantime, we’ll have a whiskey of our choosing by hand, but it won’t be ours,” he said.
Eventually, enough whiskey will be aged and ready to drink. Until then, he hopes to build a temporary wall on the side to open a tasting room early next year.
For Palleschi, the pandemic presented an opportunity
Palleschi launched the new business in September 2020 after being fired from his international sales job due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past year, he has been planning, developing strategies and researching the real estate sector. He wanted to be in the middle of town, but he couldn’t find a building with what was needed for a distillery, such as high ceilings and concrete floors.
Two days before the property closed when his marketing agency, Ironside Press, announced he was leaving the downtown building.
The Town Planning and Zoning Board has decided to change the permitted use of that property from commercial to light industrial, so Tuesday’s final city council vote is now awaited.
Palleschi plans to sign the contract that day and begin work on the design while Ironside Press will remain there until December. If the design phase takes three to four months, construction can begin the moment Ironside leaves.
However, it is expected that the delivery will be delayed. For example, it will take 12-14 weeks for the folding door at the front of the building to arrive. He hopes to do so by the end of 2022.
“Construction is the big question mark here,” Balchi said. Everything is backed up.
A former marine discovers “freedom” in life
Palleschi said he is looking to sponsor local companies and purchase American-made equipment as much as possible.
Palleschi, a native of suburban Boston, attended a military college in Vermont and spent four years in the United States Marine Corps, but he never saw combat.
He once went to a “combined exercise event” at 29 Palms, where Marines gather to simulate combat. At the end of the day, they were relaxing under a tent with a beer, but there were only two barrels that exploded simultaneously for about 1,000 Marines, he said.
They’ll have two beers and then they’ll go back to class. Then Palleschi noticed a shorter line where the Marines were serving Jim Beam and Jack Daniel’s. At that time and there he switched to whiskey, especially bourbon.
It has to be made in the United States, similar to how champagne and tequila are supposed to come from a particular region in France and Mexico respectively.
“I just fell in love with the history of bourbon whiskey,” Paleschi said. “I was raised in a very patriotic family. I was raised to appreciate things made in America. Bourbon is the American drink.”
Opening inspired the name of his workshop. It represents his freedom.
“The Twenty-first Amendment is great for me in America,” Balchi said. It’s a battle to overturn something unfair.
“If you join as Americans, you can achieve anything.”
Laurie K. Blandford is a TCPalm reporter and entertainment reporter dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Follow her on Twitter Embedded Tweet and Facebook @TCPalmLaurie. Email it to [email protected] Sign up to find out what to do in the 772 weekly newsletter at profile.tcpalm.com/newsletter/manage.
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