GRANDTEN DISTILLING is located on Dorchester Avenue in South Boston. We share our building with the memories of generations of iron workers who forged the tools necessary to build and defend a developing nation. Although they are now long gone, the brick, mortar, and stout wooden beams remain as a reminder of the hard work and dedication it takes to produce a quality product. For us, the history of our foundry is important. It helps us understand our place and it influences the spirits we produce.
Boston used to be a lot smaller. About 20% of Boston is now located on “made land,” more than any other city in the country. At the beginning of the 19th century, the city was booming and outgrowing the tiny peninsula on which it was perched.
The ocean was situated much farther inland in those days, with water covering what is now the Back Bay and most of South Boston. Castle Island was an actual island, you needed a ferry to get to Charlestown, and the only exit from Boston was a single road leaving south towards Roxbury over the skinny piece of land called the Boston Neck. To keep up with the exploding population of Bostonians, it was determined that those bays most adjacent to the city were to be filled.
Particularly interesting to the history of city, was a section southeast of the city on which the notable inventor and metallurgist Cyrus Alger built the largest iron foundry of its time. Due to his excellent skill in purifying iron, the quality of his work was unmatched. From this South Boston location, Alger furnished the US government with munitions and weaponry for many years. In fact, it was from his foundry that the first ever gun rifled in America was manufactured.
After Alger’s death, the foundry changed hands but remained an economic force in South Boston. Guns were no longer a priority, so the foundry produced wire instead. It was said that the spectacle of the wire works was so great that local schools would send their children on field trips to see the sparks and dancing flames as the molten iron was cast.