ROCKLAND—Nate Luce and his partner Justine Kablack have a little spot on Main Street that’s probably going to be Rockland’s hippest joint this summer.
They quietly opened Luce Distillery last October and have kept it fairly under the radar while perfecting their nano-distilled spirits, which are brewed in 25-gallon batches in the back.
“We’re both New Englanders,” said Luce. “My Dad lived part of his life in Maine, from Presque Isle to Kittery, and I always loved visiting him.”
His career started off by working for a whiskey distillery in New York City, skills that he’d take with him when he moved to the Midcoast in 2019. Kablack was already living here and working at the Center for Contemporary Maine Art with a passion for foraging and botanicals.
When Luce and Kablack met, they realized they had a lot of shared interests that would be ideal for making craft botanical-infused spirits.
“I had the good fortune to witness the distilling process from the company’s inception,” said Luce. “That set me down the path of researching herbal-infused spirits and their origins. I’m really interested in the medicinal aspect of herbal spirits and the way they were used in spiritual rituals.”
Luce’s flagship spirit is an Aquavit, a Scandanavian traditional spirit.
“Traditionally, you drink this ‘neat’ and cold during feasts, typically around mid-summer and Christmas,” he said.
But switching it up, the couple has experimented with making cocktails with the Aquavit.
“When we first opened, we did a Scandanavian daiquiri with that, but the drink of the summer we’re very excited about will be making this Aquavit highball—the Aquaball,” he said.
Their Old Tom gin is their other flagship style that predates London Dry.
“We’re currently making it with entirely foraged botanicals, said “Luce. “We collect the juniper from a friend’s property and then add spruce tips and bayberry.”
The handmade bar sits only about six people–it’s what is considered a “snug” in Europe.
The former flower shop has a bit of an uneven parquet floor, but it serves perfectly as a dance floor. They’ve had a DJ and a band do pop-up shows in the tiny space, along with karaoke, something Luce and Kablack hope to keep going this summer with the next big party centered around the theme of Midsummer.
Beginning in June, they’ll be open Thursday evenings through the weekend from about 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., culminating in Sunday post-brunch hours from about noon to 5 p.m.
“We’ll have some brunch martinis to go with it,” he promised.
Luce is located at 474 Main Street. Find out more on Instagram @lucespirits or at https://www.lucespirits.com/
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org