When you sit down with the owners of Misunderstood Whiskey, you feel like one of the cool kids, with their backwards hats, clear glasses, and plaid attire. JD Recobs and Chris Buglisi gave solid bear hugs for our first meeting at the Lutze Biergarten, where, you can find their Whiskey in the Lutze Lemonade. I was introduced to Misunderstood through a cousin, but by the time I had met the Misunderstood team, they had already become serious players in the local bar scene for their delicious whiskey.
While their whiskey can be drank neat or straight up, they are working with bars to create fun and different drinks to highlight the flavors. The ginger whiskey is enhanced with flavors of vanilla and earthy spices, each showing differently based on the presentation, which makes it so drinkable. This is why it is called Misunderstood Whiskey -- “Everyone who tries our whiskey for the first time doesn’t expect the unique flavor profile and smoothness that we were able to achieve at 80 proof. This is true for even those that have what we call ‘whiskey-phobia.’ It's different and approachable,” said Recobs and Buglisi. Whiskey-phobia is for someone like me who can really only do whiskey if it is followed by a pickle shot or blended smoothly into a mixed drink. They hope to change the perception of whiskey today, “Whether it be that whiskey is too harsh and smoky or needs to be really expensive and small batch to be good quality, or even that flavored whiskey is cheap and sugary. Whatever those perceptions are, we want to prove them wrong.”
Recobs and Buglisi have grown up together and stayed friends, so it was a natural progression to think of a way to work together and start their own business. Once they decided on whiskey, they did some serious research. When Recobs was explaining their initial process and how the whiskey is made, you could see and hear his passion for the product -- “The goal of Misunderstood is to introduce whiskey made for all that everyone can truly appreciate and enjoy together. That’s why we started this adventure.”
Let’s talk about the product.
Recobs and Buglisi did not know that they were going to chose ginger, but “after months of infusing a wide array of ingredients (most of them pretty bad) we realized ginger added a nice dynamic to whiskey and it ‘eased’ the whiskey. Ginger was the only ingredient that really fought toe-to-toe with the typical whiskey burn and won. It actually made the whiskey smoother and more drinkable.” After they realized ginger was the main ingredient, they began to test and work on finding the best flavor profile and mix. “We delved into understanding the different species and how to control the heat of ginger. Ginger is very delicate, if not controlled. We started infusing raw ginger, making ginger syrups, and blending different types of ginger until we were happy with the formula. From there, we needed to understand what mash bill best complemented the ginger – a higher corn mash helped round the heat of the ginger and added a soft, warm dynamic to the whiskey,” said the Misunderstood owners.
Whiskey, with an infused flavor and that is the quality of Misunderstood, is really hard to find on the market for their price point ($29!). “It’s an art to craft a whiskey at a higher ABV that holds the integrity of the whiskey while introducing refreshing and lively flavor profiles. Our Whiskey is 80 proof giving the consumer an intricate experience from the nose, mid notes, to the finish,” according to Recobs and Buglisi.
Fall is going to be the season of mixology. The Misunderstood owners plan to partner with mixologists and bartenders in Jersey City and Hoboken to bring delicious cocktails for the fall and winter. Their future goals include “expand[ing] our NJ footprint to other great markets such as Morristown and Asbury” and “the next two years, we are going to release a few new products, but that’s top secret information….stay tuned!”
While whiskey is not my drink of choice, I now have a bottle in my liquor cabinet and am ready to create fun drinks or drink it neat (I may have been converted). I enjoyed experiencing the friendly banter of friends who have grown up together and now work together; while Recobs is loud and fun, Buglisi is serious and focused. They are truly a well-balanced team for a well-balanced drink.
You can find them in your favorite bars throughout Jersey City and Hoboken and we would love to join you for a drink. Cheers, friends!
Photos provided by The Bacyard