Wildfether Distilling opens in Haddonfield this Friday (May 26th) on Kings Highway in the heart of downtown.
They will be open from 3-11 on Friday, Saturday 12-11 and Sunday 12-7.
The new small batch distillery is being opened by Haddonfield resident Tommy Alfinito and his wife Dana, who also own Hygge Fitness in Mount Laurel.
The location for Wildfether carries all of the character and charm you would expect from a Haddonfield location, as it was developed within the “Jennings House”, which dates back to 1857.
The outside of the building fully holds the historic charm from a time long ago, but inside they changed things up a bit to accommodate the distillery and tasting rooms, while still keeping all of the charm from the era.
The space is smartly configured to provide a variety of tasting room experiences, with two cocktail bars (upstairs and downstairs) a separate event area, and two outdoor patios!
And of course they are fully equipped to distill their vodka, gin, rye whiskey and bourbon right in the building! Efficient use of the space also provided plenty of room for the distillery equipment, a “lab” area and other spaces for tanks and storage required to make their delicious spirits.
Their vodka and gin are made with grain neutral spirit and are flavored and aged at Wildfether.
As you may know whiskey and bourbon takes a year or more to age before it’s ready, so for the first year of operating they will be distilling and selling at Wildfether whiskey and bourbon sourced from other locations.
That being said Tommy already has barrels of their own fully created batches aging in a storage area. Some whiskey and bourbon batches are set to age in about a year, and then larger batches which will be aged 2 years or more.
Wildfether Distillery – The History
Tommy and his wife have lived in Haddonfield for about 8 years.
But their love for the quaint historic small town goes back much further than that. Even when they lived in Burlington County, he and his wife would visit Haddonfield regularly… dining at the local restaurants and shopping in the stores.
Feeling at home amidst the charm of the Haddonfield downtown area, they decided around 2015 that they should make Haddonfield their home.
For most people that would be enough in showing their desire and devotion to be part of the town!
But their frequent walks would have them admiring the different downtown buildings with their distinctive architecture, and Tommy knew he wanted to open a business in town.
He originally considered a brewery, but felt overall that the competition was just a little tougher with so many quality breweries in the area. Plus Haddonfield already had Kings Road Brewery (as well as a Heritage Winery tasting room).
Very quickly he decided that a distillery would be a perfect compliment to those other two businesses.
Haddonfield would be a dry town with it’s own “Adult Beverage” walking tour!
But Tommy says originally he was ready to go with another location in town. A smaller location!
During one of their many walks through town, Tommy would admire the different buildings… and one day he found that the Jennings House was available. While it wasn’t his initial plan to take on a larger project, it seemed that the universe was telling him something. The couple shifted gears and took over the Jennings House property.
I think you’ll agree after visiting that the building they are opening Wildfether in is a perfect match!
So now several years later Tommy is the owner of a new distillery, and is also the chief distiller!
I asked Tommy about the origins of the distillery’s name
My mom has always been my biggest supporter. Years ago when I called her and told her I was going to finish my degree in finance but open a gym, her immediate response was go do it! She would always sneak into the gym to help clean and help anyway she could. I knew when I opened the distillery I wanted to do something in her memory. There’s a story about her I always heard growing up and that she found a feather outside and made it into an earring. So the name Wildfether is about that story and a nice way for me to remember her and say thank you.Tommy Alfinito of Wildfether Distilling. Opening May 26th in Haddonfield NJ
Wildfether Distilling – The Experience
When you enter the distillery from the front door, off to the left is the lower level cocktail bar area.
This bar area is configured for seven or eight stools and positioned along the center wall.
Behind the bar is a large window which gives guests a view into the distillery area, and serves as the perfect backdrop as you order and taste the delicious spirits which are made just a few feet away.
The rest of this room features several other chairs situated with small tables and several large windows. Very cozy!
I’m not an interior design buff but if feels like the furniture is carrying a mid-century era theme.
While there’s a medium dark floor, overall the space is very bright with barrel wood accents on the bar front, and a light collared bar top and walls,
Decorative blue tiles frame those large windows to add an additional splash of color to the space
As mentioned the first floor is also where the distillery area is, which takes the rightmost portion of the first floor, all the way back into the extended space in the rear of the building.
There’s an efficient and smart use of the space for distilling, as there are separate dedicated areas to the distillery process along the right side of the building; mixing, distilling, storing, and the larger tanks.
On the first floor there is also a rear entrance with a covered patio seating area
Upstairs you’re in for a WOW moment!
So I went into this cold without realizing what to expect from the second floor. Honestly if Tommy had told me what I saw in their first floor was the whole distillery, I would have been impressed.
But when you get to the top of the steps on the second floor it immediately opens up to a much larger space with a center positioned cocktail bar, which still leaves plenty of room around the perimeter for additional seating small nooks. There is even a more private seating area in the front turret section of the room
The turret area it’s actually a fairly large sized space and it offers curved benched window seating… further adding to the character of the space
It’s a beautifully designed bar in the center of the room somewhat shaped like the front bow of a ship. Leaving the one end open for bartenders and staff to access behind the bar.
Similar to the downstairs there are plenty of large windows to let light in and a variety of textures on the walls including exposed brick and timbers, surrounded by newer but antique style wallpaper
So all of this is in the front portion of the house on the second floor!
In the back portion there’s a separate event area which right now is configured with tables and chairs but in the future we’ll be used for a variety of different special functions
We’re not done here because the next big twist is there is a second floor outdoor patio which probably will fit 20 people or more.
It feels like you could come to the Wildfether Distillery multiple times and have a different experience each time you visit! Like it’s a different craft cocktail bar each time!
There are literally five different tasting room spaces plus all of the distillery space areas, in a compact building.
Now don’t overthink this! I’m not saying the place is huge, it’s just smartly segregated and themed. Tommy’s actually a little worried that for the opening weekend they’re going to be a little bit overwhelmed with customers who’ve been waiting to try their delicious craft spirits and cocktails!
Which especially with the 42Freeway fan base in the mix is a real concern because we all love to be the first to try the new things
There’s a parking lot in the back as well as on either side there are additional parking options, such as town offices which on evenings and weekends are mostly empty and available to downtown visitors.
Wildfether Distillery Craft Cocktails
So if you aren’t fully aware of how distilleries work in New Jersey…well absolutely a big part of the business model is to sell bottles of the spirits for you to take home.
But New Jersey realizes that for breweries, wineries and distilleries an onsite tasting room is a big part of the experience… and for distilleries they are allowed to utilize mixers and other ingredients to create delicious craft cocktails.
And for Wildfether the man behind the entire cocktail menu is Ethan Sherman who truly is a master and creating deliciously innovative cocktails.
He’s been working hard developing the liqueurs and syrups that will go into the cocktails featured at Wildfether.
There is a dedicated lab area where Ethan tries a variety of high quality ingredients looking for the perfect balance of flavors to fully highlight the fresh distilled products made at the distillery.
The opening day menu posted about a week ago features 10 different signature cocktails covering all aspects of the flavor profiles… from class old-world cocktail flavors based on rye whiskey or bourbon, to more tropical experiences utilizing their vodka or gin and adding in delicious ingredients like pineapple, watermelon, lemon and cane sugar.
Just today this afternoon the Wildfether Facebook page featured “Down By The Bay” which is Gin, Watermelon, Lime and Cane Sugar. It looks amazing!
Links and Location
236 Kings Hwy E
Haddonfield, NJ 08033
Hours to start are:
- Thursday 4-10
- Friday 3-11
- Saturday 12-11
- Sunday 12-7