News 12 gets inside look at Asylum Distillery

Robert Schulten is a former chemical engineer at GE in Fairfield.

Robert Schulten is a former chemical engineer at GE in Fairfield. (12/30/16)

BRIDGEPORT - Southwestern Connecticut's first distillery since the start of prohibition in 1919 is picking up steam as the number of locations selling its booze has climbed to at least 50.

Asylum Distillery officials say the product is truly local from start to finish. The owner gave News 12 Connecticut cameras a firsthand look at the distilling process.

"This is some of the best corn in the state of Connecticut," says Robert Schulten, describing one of the main ingredients. 

Schulten is a former chemical engineer at GE in Fairfield. He says he's using his scientific background to turn that corn into vodka, gin and whiskey. He opened the distillery with his wife, Bridget.

The process begins with about 300 pounds of corn and 100 gallons of water, cooked together for about an hour. The process releases the grain's starches, which are then extracted and used for fermentation with the addition of yeast.

"That's where the magic happens," Schulten says. 

Stills then separate the water from the alcohol. Schulten says it takes about a week from the time the corn comes in to go through the whole process.

He sends the leftover cooked corn to Fairfield for use as compost and animal feed.

"It is a nice cycle of life thing," Schulten says.

Bridget Schulten says her husband wakes up around 5 a.m. and stays at the distillery late into the night.

"Rob works very hard every day to get that product exactly as he wants it," she says.

Asylum Distillery has been open since June and offers tours and tastings.

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