April 1, 2019
Those who enjoy drinking a good spirit, are looking for a new experience, or feeling a bit rebellious, should visit Norwalk’s new destination craft distillery, SoNo 1420. The distillery makes whiskey and gin with the special ingredient of hemp which provides a unique taste to the alcohol.
SoNo 1420, which opened in South Norwalk this past February, began as a kernel of an idea by Ted Dumbauld back in 2014. Dumbauld, who had a former career as an investor with Wall Street banks, was involved in an investment running a medical marijuana dispensary. While in Kentucky for a hemp conference, Dumbauld was sipping bourbon and got the idea of making whisky using hemp seed. Hemp, also known as cannabis sativa, is a related plant to the marijuana plant, but does not have the same psychoactive properties. Hemp has a variety of industrial uses, including paper, clothing, building materials, biofuel, food products, and oils.
Dumbauld explains, “I got a small still and started making batches of whisky in my basement, testing with hemp until I came up with a flavor profile that worked.” After a few years of going through the lengthy application process for state distilling licenses, Dumbauld, opened SoNo 1420.
SoNo 1420 offers two whiskeys- a bourbon and a rye- both distilled from grains and hemp seed and finished in oak barrels. In addition, the company makes three gins infused with botanicals, including hemp flowers.
SoNo 1420 is located in a Prohibition-era type historic building in South Norwalk, designed by local renowned architect Bruce Beinfeld. In addition to rooms for the distilling and barreling processes, there is a tasting room reminiscent of a speakeasy that features imported copper and stainless steel still. The company’s name, like the building, draws on a bit of history. “The name 1420 was the historic vote by Connecticut in 1919 to deny ratification of Prohibition (one of only two states),” says Dumbauld. “Connecticut was a bit of a maverick when it came to Prohibition with hundreds of bootleggers around the state, and coastal rum runners common up and down Long Island Sound. We thought naming our spirits after that historic vote was appropriate.”
Customers can purchase and get the full SoNo 1420 tasting experience on Saturdays and Sundays by booking a tour. The company is currently working on local distribution and having their products available at local farm-to-table restaurants. As the weather gets nicer, the distillery plans on offering experiences on Friday nights as well as “Make Your Own Cocktail” nights on Wednesdays. “In addition to our tasting experience, we welcome individuals or companies to hold catered events such as birthday, holiday parties or team-building events at SoNo 1420,” says Dumbauld.
If you want to recreate the maverick spirit of Connecticut during Prohibition or just enjoy a good whisky, bring your friends or co-workers to SoNo 1420 and experience the taste of something new and unconventional. SoNo 1420 is located at 19 Day Street in South Norwalk. Visit sono1420.com for more information and to book an experience. Or call 203 635-2100.