Pre-Prohibition bourbon from NE DC expands to two dozen states

WASHINGTON — D.C. distillery Jos. A. Magnus & Co., which launched in 2015 as a reboot of the original whiskey company founded in 1892, has expanded nationwide marketing to 28 states, including California, New York, Texas, Illinois and Georgia.

Ali Anderson, director of sales at Magnus, has been promoted to general manager to oversee  nationwide distribution of the company’s gins, vodkas and bourbons.

Magnus disappeared from D.C. drinking circles when Prohibition took hold, but decades later found a new life by chance.

“Joseph Magnus’ great grandson just rediscovered a bottle, a 122-year old bottle of whiskey, when he was sifting through his family’s memorabilia,” Anderson told WTOP. “Lo and behold, they found a bottle that was, they believe, the first-ever Jos. Magnus whiskey that was made.”

The company blends whiskeys using recipes that date back to the 19th century. Since rebooting the brand in 2015, Magnus has won several awards.

While the distillery makes award-winning gins and vodkas, the taste today is for its bourbon.

“As the bourbon boom, especially for craft bourbon, has occurred, we have certainly kind of tipped our scales more toward bourbon and now about 90 percent of what we produce is bourbon,” Anderson said.

The Jos. A. Magnus & Co. cocktail room in Ivy City will close temporarily and be refurbished to include the addition of pre-Prohibition artifacts on loan from the Magnus family.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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