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Distillers to Watch // Will and Dave Willis

Will and Dave Willis, Michael Piazza

Photos by Michael Piazza

Growing up in Massachusetts, brothers Will and Dave Willis loved turning apples from their family’s fourth-generation farm into fresh cider. As they got older, it was an easy leap to apple brandy, then rum and whiskey. In 2010, they traded their two-gallon stovetop still for the 150-gallon variety.

Under the name Bully Boy, an homage to their great-grandfather’s beloved horse, the duo produces premium spirits in small batches, emphasizing quality over quantity.

“That’s the nice thing about being a small distillery—you can take some chances,” says Dave Willis. “We can do a batch and get 11 gallons of uncut spirit. Jack Daniels spills more than this in an hour. The scale is a lot different and it allows us to be nimble.”

Boston-based Bully Boy offers an American straight whiskey and Boston rum, as well as three unaged spirits: vodka, white rum and white whiskey (aka moonshine).

Willis finds summer an especially great time to mix white whiskey cocktails, which he says can be substituted in vodka drinks for a bolder, deeper flavor.

Bully Boy spirits can be found in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, but the Willis brothers have their sights set on other states. For now, those traveling through Boston’s Logan International Airport can stock up in Terminal E’s duty-free shop.

Molly Mogren

Spill It: Tell Us What You Think!

David Dafoe
This is great. I love watching companies like this one start up, build the business and prosper. Nice.
8/15/2013 8:37:57 AM

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