The first thing you notice when you crack a bottle of Liberty Gin open is a strong lemon aroma. Walter Palmer, a Manayunk resident who founded Palmer Distillery just a few blocks from the neighborhood’s Main Street attributes this ingredient to his own preference.
“It really is wonderfully citrus-y,” he said of his gin.
Palmer said his approach is methodical and artisanal, insisting that he doesn’t want to expand to the point of sacrificing the high quality, organic ingredients he imports from around the world.
“From my perspective, a good gin should be pure to exactly what gin is,” Palmer said. “I do have a personal philosophy that everything has a sweet spot, as it should be. Our company motto is ‘as it should be.'”
Palmer spent months researching, trying to identify what made a good, Philadelphia gin before opening up 10 weeks ago.
He found himself looking at the American Revolution, a defining time in American history. And Philadelphia played a big role. He wanted to make a gin as strong and robust as the city he’s working in.
“Generally, the people who were having those thoughts [of revolution] drank,” He said. “They weren’t drunk, but they drank. I mean, they drank a lot. “
He said he was fascinated with the idea of being able to walk in the steps of the Founding Fathers, holding a drink with the same properties as theirs. His gin is meant to, in a way, wind back time with every sip.
Palmer officially earned his permits and licenses in May and will be moving his product onto a few Pennsylvania liquor store shelves in September. He makes small batches, but has the capacity to distill 220 gallons at a time.
Palmer is also working on a corn whiskey product called Manayunk Moonshine. His plan is to bottle half and barrel half, and maybe sell it in flasks. As tempted as he is to dig into the bourbon business, there are more restrictions involved in that.
“Even if I end up selling gin from New York to D.C., I’ll be perfectly happy,” Palmer said. “My goal is not to be Diageo. I want to be a high quality, craft distillery. I want to use high quality products and make high quality products.”
Palmer Distilling is located at 376 Shurs Lane in Manayunk. If you see a sign that says “free gin tasting” you are welcome to go in for a free shot.