So, just to get right into it, how did Noormans Kil get started?
M: We’ll there’s 4 of us. Billy, Gary, Harold and myself. Billy and Gary we’re in a rock band together and have know each other for years and Harold is my brother, so I’ve known him since he was born.
We all worked at Barcade in Brooklyn and just started throwing ideas around and ended up going with the 2 things we we’re passionate about. Whisky and Grilled Cheeses. We also wanted to do something a bit different, since there’s quite a bit of bars in Williamsburg Brooklyn, so we decided to really focus on carrying as many Whisky’s as we could. We wanted to do something different.
What was the inspiration ?
M: The whisky and woodworking. We looked through quite a bit of history books with old bars and saloons. We loved the woodworking in these old places. There was a warm inviting feeling about the places. A home away from home type thing. We started researching whisky and kind of just kept going deeper. The more we learned the more we wanted to give access to people like us to hard to find whiskeys, to a younger generation of drinkers.
Marcel, what would you say was your personal relationship with whisky?
M: Hmmm. We just drink it and study it quite a bit :)
Do you remember your first dram?
M: Hmmm, first dram. Probably something awful from my father’s liquor cabinet… Can’t really remember. I do remember getting into Scotch with Oban 14. We used to sip quite a few at this great local bar Iona.
Do you have any personal favorites?
M: Lots of personal favorites. Bowmore 15, Anything Four Roses, Willett, William Larue Weller from the Antique Collection, The Balvenie 21 Port Wood, Glendronach 15, Yamazaki 1984 is probably the best I ever had.
Is there a significance of the name Noorman's Kil?
M: The bar’s name is derived from a creek that once flowed through northern Brooklyn. Noorman’s Kil also references the importance of water in the distillation of whiskey, which when translated from the Gaelic term usquebaugh, means “water of life.” The creek was named afterDirck "De Noorman” Volkertszen.
What makes Noorman's Kil different from all the other Whisky Bars?
M: With a selection of over 400 whiskies, Noorman’s Kil features one of the most impressive collections in NYC. Whiskey lovers of all kinds are sure to expand their palettes here. More than just a place for libations, Noorman’s Kil hosts regular whiskey tastings and other events that spotlight the many facets of whiskey heritage.
An assortment of gourmet grilled cheeses are on the menu to balance the belly and 12 rotating beers are available on tap along with other spirits for the non-whiskey inclined.
How do you select the Whiskies?
M: I do the ordering, but all four of us participate in the selection. We go to all the Whisky events, tastings, etc to keep our finger on the pulse of what’s new out there or what we might have missed. Even though we carry 400 Whisky’s we try and keep the list curated. We mainly select by what we personally like and what’s different, unique or unusual. We also listen to customer recommendations. We also got down to Kentucky to learn directly from the distillers. It’s a fun excuse to go down there.
What kind of profiles drive your interest when selecting a special whisky for your bar?
M: Mainly taste, our familiarity with the brand, integrity, the stories behind the whisky, the people that make it.As for taste we want to offer the widest range possible. We also try to carry a lot of the new crafty ones to help out, but also definitely stock up on the classics.
So far this is all very interesting Marcel, but tell us, is there anything else Noorman's Kil is known for besides the vast collection of whisky?
M: Our Grilled Cheese sandwiches! We carry all other spirits also and we pride ourselves in our warm low key friendly vibe. We want people to have fun and learn about Whisky.
Marcel, do you believe Whisky is the new Wine?
M: I was quoted as saying that… I don’t. They are completely different beasts. Very different experiences.
What experience do you want the first time visitors/whisky can to come away with after their first visit to Noorman's Kil?
M: Again we want people to learn, which is why we do regular free tastings, we have a library in the back with a variety of different Whisky reference books as well as folk tales and magazines with info on the current expressions. We want them to not feel intimidated by Whisky, feel free to chat up the bartender and try new things. Hopefully they leave with a new favorite, a new tale or story.
It was such a pleasure speaking with Marcel about their venue. It's definitely a great place to visit in Williamsburg when looking to challenge your whisky palate. Their collection is quite extensive and memorable.