By Kalea Hall
Bill Candella’s list of experiments keeps growing at the Candella micro-distillery that he runs with his brothers.
The spirit-making Candella brothers started with a pure cane sugar vodka, now they are preparing to release their own bourbon and eventually they would like to offer beer and wine.
Before the holiday season, the Candella micro-distillery will also have its first private label creation hit the shelves.
Boom Boom Bourbon, named after boxing champ and Youngstown native Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, has been aging in Kentucky and will go to the Candella micro-distillery at 4440 Market St. for blending and bottling.
“It goes with my lifestyle company and my motto,” Mancini said of the bourbon. “It’s a gentleman’s drink and I like to consider myself a gentleman.”
Mancini already has his own wine on the market called Southpaw.
The wine is what he drinks with his meals, but his bourbon is his nighttime gentleman’s drink that is savored to the last drop.
Diamante Blu, a portfolio company of the venture firm Diamante Companies that has offices in Poland, started and invested in the bourbon project with Mancini a couple of years ago. They wanted to use the Candella micro-distillery for the project because it’s local and the Candella brothers know tabout spirits.
“He took the shot and I admire anyone who is taking the shot, especially here in Youngstown,” Mancini said of Bill Candella.
Candella took his shot at starting the first micro-distillery in the area since prohibition in 2012. He was sick of sitting around after he retired as an engineer for a phone company and spirit making was in his blood. His grandfather, Sullivan Candella, made illegal moonshine during prohibition and his aunt, Elizabeth Rega, was killed by other bootleggers in a liquor hijacking on the city’s south side during that time.
Candella and his brothers, Keith, Brian, Terry, Chris and the late Donn, started the business in a space on McClurg Road.
Before they knew it, they had their award-winning Y town vodka, an 80-proof, smooth spirit made from that pure cane sugar. This creation has four gold awards from the American Distilling Institute.
An apple pie moonshine called Duck Juice came next, and then cinnamon vodka.
“I wanted it to be different,” Candella said of the cinnamon vodka. “I was trying to dial it in where everyone can drink it.”
Then the experiments got even more extreme with the barreled vodka.
“It’s a vodka that’s made like a bourbon,” he said.
Not to worry – this barreled vodka does not sit and simmer long like a bourbon. It’s just finished off in a barrel to get that caramel vanilla taste and barrel color.
Espresso vodka came next and for the past eight months he has been working on the corn-based Knaughty vodka.
Candella also has a few more vodka ideas, like tomato vodka for bloody mary’s. He also has recipes from his grandparents for limoncello and orangecello. And let’s not forget the bourbon he has coming.
“When it comes to bourbon it comes down to the wood you put in,” he said. “The blending is what put the flavors to it.”
All of these experiments and the desire to do more private label production made Candella find a new spot on Market Street that the distillery moved into one year ago.
“We needed more space as we were growing,” Candella said.
The back space of the Candella storefront is where the Y town product comes to life and where the new products start. Candella proudly shows off the large jugs of experiments he has going to get the perfect tastes for the spirits. He points out where the Candella craft beer production will take place when he finally receives the permits to make it. The Candella brothers work around the clock making product and getting the word out about it.
“A lot of guys who would like to make the product but they don’t have the facilities to make it,” Candella said. “We have the facilities.”
The move has paid off. Two other private label clients are working with Candella.
“We will not talk to anyone for less than 250 cases,” Candella said.
The first run of Boom Boom Bourbon will only include 1,200 bottles, so the investors at Diamante Blu say to order early.
“People, because of the label, are gonna have it signed by Ray and keep it on the shelf,” Candella said.
The goal is to have Boom Boom Bourbon out by November. The Candella Y town bourbon will also be out by November.
“I am very excited about this,” Mancini said. “I appreciate the City of Youngstown. I really think they are going to enjoy this.”
Boom Boom Bourbon comes with a unique, smooth taste that both female and male bourbon drinkers enjoyed when tested.
“I was so blown away only because of the aftertaste,” Mancini said.
For more information on Boom Boom Bourbon and to pre-order go to boomboombourbon.com.
For more information on Candella micro-distillery go to candellamicro-distillery.com.