Originally from Manhattan's upper Westside and residents of the Douglass Housing Project, childhood friends Ralph Barbosa & Billy Valentin decided to take a plunge into the moonshine business. What better way was there to do it but legally and with the help of a one time moonshiner and now the master distiller behind PMD, their uncle "Tio" Rafael, from Guayama, Puerto Rico. Without a business plan or any idea on how to get started they decided the first piece of the plan was to convince Tio to make the move from Puerto Rico to NYC.
Asking Ralph's Dad for his opinion who responded with "Good luck in trying to convince my younger brother, a life long Jibaro, to move".
During a family reunion for our grandfather's 94th birthday celebration and Los Dias de Los Reyes we once again heard stories of the moonshine days from our Uncle who learned first hand from his uncle the process of the Rodriguez family recipe. All of this while enjoying the rich taste of Pitorro lead us to research the first Distilling companies in New York City, Kings County Distillery, Breuckelen Distilling and New York Distilling Company. We thought, why not bring the flavor of Pitorro to NYC.
After convincing our uncle to relocate from Puerto Rico we decided on making Port Morris, New York our home.
Pitorro, the moonshine of Puerto Rico, has been produced since the 1600's as its primary ingredient was sugar cane, a main product grown in Puerto Rico at the time. Although considered a rum, it is much stronger than a commercial rum surpassing the common alcohol of 80 or 90 proof. Since the major decline in sugar cane agriculture, Brown sugar & adding fruits to ferment has taken the place of molasses. With many family recipes throughout the Island, fermenting recipes change from family to family, the common practice in the production is 'curing' the distilled product by burying jugs of Pitorro in the ground. To give Pitorro distinct caribbean flavor, fruits such as coconut, pineapple, raisins, tamarind among other fruits are placed in the jugs in this process.
Puerto Rican Moonshine is also known by names such as lagrimas del monte (mountain tears), lagrimas de mangle (mangroves tears) and Canita (sugar cane).
After previously owning a business in the Port Morris section of the South Bronx and owning real estate in the area, in 2010 we decided this area to be the perfect location for the distillery. Conveniently located near the First Avenue Bridge (Willis Ave Bridge), the Triboro Bridge (RFK Bridge) and three stops on the # 6 train from Manhattan, making visits for tours and tastings by patrons and interested parties easy.
Port Morris has attracted others to open up shop, Tirado Distillery (rum & whiskey) & Bronx Brewery (NYC crafted beer) are foot steps away.