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About us

Our story…. The whole story!

It began in 1981 when Dean and Melissa Long founded the Nantucket Vineyard. While Dean and Melissa tried for many years to grow grapes on the island, Mother Nature refused to cooperate. They now import their grapes from the finest growers in California, Washington state and New York. This has allowed the vintner a chance to focus on the fermentation and production side of wine making, which has resulted in some of the region’s best wine. Production continues to increase to meet the influx of summer tourists and new wines are constantly being introduced.

Cisco Brewers was founded by Randy and Wendy Hudson in 1992 when Wendy bought Randy a home brewing kit.  Randy tried one recipe using malt extract, then ditched the book and converted a little pasta roller machine into a grain mill. He was right in his element. If Wendy needed to be further impressed to stick with this guy, after trying his beer, she was!

Randy and Wendy had the good fortune to meet up with Dean and Melissa. The Long’s needed helpers and Randy and Wendy needed a place to live, so they moved into the loft over the winery in May of 1992. Making wine turned out to be very interesting work and they sure didn’t mind living above thousands of gallons of the finished product!

When Randy and Wendy started selling beer, the entire operation-except the cold room, which was cooled by an air conditioner-was outdoors.  Many people thought it looked like they were making moonshine and they were right! Cisco Brewers had the distinction of being America’s Only Outdoor Brewery.

In 1996, Randy and Wendy met Jay Harman who was working on his senior year business thesis at Fairfield University (CT). He had been looking to open a brewery on Nantucket until he learned that we were already doing it. Jay joined Cisco Brewers after graduating in 1996.  Thank goodness he joined forces with Cisco. Based on how hard he works running our operation, he sure would have made a tough competitor. Not to mention, he single-handedly capped 60,000 bottles in his first year alone.

During the rapid growth stage of the brewery, Dean managed to have the foresight to see a connection between the alcohol amusement park they were building and micro-distillation. In hopes of producing some grappa and fruit brandies, Dean applied for a license to manufacture high proofed spirits in 1997. But after some experimentation, Dean, Randy and Jay saw a unique synergy between Cisco Brewers making beer and Triple Eight Distillery making whiskey. After all, whiskey is beer that has been distilled. In the fall of 2000, after jumping through a myriad of hoops, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts gave Triple Eight Distillery a license to produce high proofed spirits. Triple Eight Distillery began making Notch whiskey (as in “not scotch” single malt whiskey).

Yet because of whiskey’s long aging process (a minimum of five years “in the wood”), the fledgling distillers decided to also try their hand at making vodka.

To raise the necessary capital, they invited the public to purchase futures on each barrel of Notch (an option still open to the public today). As a result, Triple Eight Vodka was the first product to flow into bottles from our tiny production facility. It is made from organically grown corn, triple distilled and blended with ultra-pure sand-filtered island water from well #888.

The purity of spirit and gentle filtration contribute greatly to this flavorful vodka’s silky palate and smooth finish. That lasting impression of extreme drinkability is the characteristic most commonly noted by the newly initiated Triple Eight Vodka drinker. Producing rum, gin and bourbon soon followed. 

Our products are currently distributed in 12 states and growing quickly. We have recently been the beneficiary of much national media exposure (The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Associated Press, Boston Magazine, Agenda Magazine, Elle Magazine and much more).

Yet perhaps our strongest marketing force is the island of Nantucket itself and its 200,000 visitors each year. Cisco Brewers, Nantucket Vineyard and Triple Eight Distillery are located at 5 and 7 Bartlett Farm Road. We’re open year-round and look forward to meeting you the next time you’re on Nantucket Island. In the meantime, we encourage you to join our growing mailing list and check our site often for updates.

We’re young (at heart, anyway), love what we produce, and have a great time doing it.  Enjoy our fine beer, wine, spirits and our dry goods!

And that’s our story in a nutshell…to be continued…

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