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Touring Fifth State Distillery, Bridgeport, CT, USA

Bridget and Rob Schulten - Fifth State Distillery - photo by Luxury Experience
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Fifth State Distillery

Drink local is the sign inside Fifth State Distillery owned by Rob and Bridget Schulten where their motto is "Made with pride in the great state of Connecticut." Based in Bridgeport, Connecticut, their award-winning Fifth State Distillery products are made from locally grown Connecticut non-GMO corn and are gluten-free. Handcrafted in small batches, Fifth State Distillery has been turning heads with their delectable spirits since 2016.


Bridget and Rob Schulten
Fifth State Distillery

We met with Rob and Bridget Schulten at Fifth State Distillery on Saturday, March 27, 2021 to learn about their company and taste their extensive line of premium spirits. Passionate about spirits and cocktails, Rob and Bridget Schulten founded their company in 2014, and opened the distillery in 2016.

Rob is a Connecticut native who grew up in Darien where his family had farms while he was growing up. Bridget hails from Georgia, and although Connecticut has been her home for 30 years, her Southern hospitality is as charming as her soft drawl. They have strong ties to supporting and sustaining the local farm community, purchasing their corn used to produce their spirits from a local farm.

The name, Fifth State Distillery, is a nod to Connecticut being the fifth state to join the union on January 9, 1788. (Delaware was the first to enter on December 7, 1787 followed by Pennsylvania on December 12, New Jersey on December 18, Georgia on January 2, 1788, and Connecticut on January 9th.)

rob Schulten and Edward F. Nesta at Fifth State Distillery - photo by Luxury Experience
Rob Schulten and Edward F. Nesta
Touring Fifth State Distillery

Taking a tour with Rob and Bridget was educational and fun and where we learned that they make all their spirits from locally grown non-GMO corn, however, they do not use fresh corn, but rather dry, cracked corn. When corn is fresh on the cob, it is a vegetable, however when it is dried and removed from the cob it becomes a grain. The grain is then used to create a mash, which is then fermented and distilled. Another interesting note is that alcohol made from corn has a different viscosity and has a more rounded mouthfeel. During the spirits making process, there are 3 distinct parts: heads (1%), the hearts, and tails (the film of oil left behind). Fifth State Distillery opts to use the heads and hearts only in their production of spirits. The day that we visited, they were making whiskey and there was a delectable, heady, sweet corn aroma wafting in the air that delighted our senses.

After touring their distillery and watching the action take place, we took a seat at their bar to begin the tasting portion of our education. Rob is a chemical engineer and the creative genius behind their inspired line of spirits. He loves creating big flavors and the distillery is like a big science project for him. Rob is always dreaming up new ideas for products, which Bridget and son, Josh, are happy to assist, taste, and provide input.

Stills at Fifth State Distillery - photo by Luxury Experience
"Still" Making magic at Fifth State Distillery

We began by tasting their award-winning, 3-time silver medalist Gin, which is column distilled and bottled at 94 proof (47% alcohol by volume). The gin has a very aromatic nose with floral and herbal notes, with juniper dominant on the palate that leads to coriander, cardamon, lemon, and angelica, for a very pleasing finish.

We continued with tasting their Seville Gin, made with Seville oranges. (Debra) grew up eating British marmalade made with Seville oranges, and Fifth State Distillery Seville Gin brought back many fond memories. The Seville Gin had a nice balance of botanicals and orange flavors that would be lovely to sip chilled or used in cocktails.

Barrels at  - Fifth State Distillery - photo by Luxury Experience

We also tasted their award-winning Simply Celery, a handcrafted, small batch vodka infused with celery. Tasting Simply Celery chilled was delicious and had us conjuring up how wonderful it would be in Bloody Mary cocktails or martinis.

Every distillery has a special spirit close to their hearts, and for Rob and Bridget, that would be their Ginger Zap, (90 proof/45% alcohol by volume) a ginger flavored vodka made by infusing "grandmother’s hand" ginger in their vodka. The result is what Rob likes to describe as "like eating ginger off a sushi platter" – no sugar or sweetness, and it has a bite. They keep it chilled in the freezer, and it was delicious. They use Ginger Zap to make their signature cocktail, a Cranberry Mule made with equal parts of Ginger Zap, cranberry juice, and ginger beer. Shake it with ice and serve as a martini, or over ice in a copper cup as you would a Moscow Mule. For a festive holiday touch, they float a thin slice of jalapeno when serving it martini-style.

In addition to their gins and different vodkas, they also make whiskeys and liqueurs. Two of their delectable liqueurs we tasted included their Chocolate XS, and Chocolate Orange XS, which would be lovely to sip after dinner or add to coffee, over ice cream, or used to enhance chocolate pudding or chocolate mousse. So many delicious products, so many ideas on how to use them!

Fifth State Distillery Products that are only available for purchase at the distillery include: Limoncello, Orangecello, Chocolate XS, Chocolate Orange XS, Cinnamon Zap Vodka, Seville Gin, Moonshine, and Barrel Strength Whiskey.

Fifth State Distillery - photo by Luxury Experience

Fifth State Distillery products that can be purchased throughout the state of Connecticut include: Fifth State Gin, Ginger Zap Vodka, Vodka, Simply Celery Vodka, CT Maple Whiskey, Wonderful Water (Nutmeg Liqueur), and Hand Sanitizer.

VIDEOLuxury Experience interview with Bridget and Rob Schulten of Fifth State Distilleryhttps://youtu.be/mu-7Z9EpufY

Until next time, cheers, its cocktail time!

For additional information on Fifth State Distillery as well as purchasing information please visit their website: www.fifthstatedistillery.com

Fifth State Distillery Hours: Monday – Thursday from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, Friday – closed, Saturday from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Sunday closed.

Read more about Fifth State Distillery exceptional spirits and get culinary and cocktail recipes in the Liquor Cabinet section.

Fifth State Distillery - Bridgeport, CT USA

Fifth State Distillers
259Asylum Street
Bridgeport, Connecticut 06610
United States
Telephone: +1-203-258-3422
Email: bridget@fifthstatedistillery.com
Website: www.fifthstatedistillery.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fifthstatedistillery/
Instagram: @fifthstatedistillery
Twitter: @5thStateDistill

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