Thanks to Drew Lazor and Philly.com for this excellent article. Photo: Elizabeth Robertson.
Growing up in Newtown Square, Dorey Bryan dreamed of one day owning a horse farm that backed up right to the beach. She ended up instead with a distillery that makes small-batch vodka out of New Jersey sweet potatoes, and she couldn’t be happier.
Bryan, along with her husband, Corey, and partner Steve Miller, are the founders of Nauti Spirits, a nascent operation that honors Cape May County’s booze-soaked history and terroir in more ways than one. On a 60-acre preserved farm that sits right on the Cape May Canal, the not-yet-two-month-old Nauti proudly touts itself as a “farm-to-bottle” operation — the stuff coming off their stunning 750-gallon, 23-foot-tall copper still is largely derived from raw material plucked from local fields, providing cocktail-loving beachcombers with a literal taste of the shore, sans the sand and salt water.
Taking this hyperlocal tack is not just preferred from a craftsman’s standpoint — it’s actually dictated by law. Since Nauti is designated as preserved farmland by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, it is required that a minimum of 51 percent of its annual gross sales come directly from the output of the farm itself. In other words, they’ve got to make their money off what they grow — which is where those sweet potatoes come in.