Pawtucket welcomes northern R.I.’s first distillery

Pawtucket welcomes northern R.I.’s first distillery

Owners of White Dog Distilling, from left, Eric Sylvestre, Alecia Catucci, and Carlo Catucci, in their space at 560 Mineral Spring Ave. Not pictured is Vincent Greene.

PAWTUCKET – As the brewery business in Pawtucket continues to thrive, a local high school physics teacher is bringing handcrafted spirits to the scene.

White Dog Distilling cut the ribbon on its approximately 400-square-foot Pawtucket facility in the Lorraine Mill last week, becoming Rhode Island’s third distillery, and the first to operate in the northern part of the state. White Dog Distilling produces small-batch rum, corn whiskey, moonshine, gin, and bourbon. It occupies a space previously used by both the Bucket Brewery and Crooked Current Brewery to get their start.

Founded by Carlo Catucci, a graduate of Rhode Island College, who has been teaching science at Scituate High School for more than 20 years and currently serves as chair of the science department, White Dog Distilling is co-owned by his wife, Alecia Catucci, along with Eric Sylvestre and Vincent Greene.

Catucci first started distilling spirits about five years ago, as a hobbyist. He built his first still himself after researching the process online. Later, he upgraded to a 10-gallon professional system. Both stills are on display at the new facility. Currently, White Dog uses three 65-gallon fermenters and one 55-gallon modular still, nicknamed “Scratch,” since the distillery produces spirits made from scratch.

Catucci has become a student of the craft, but also recognizes the opportunity to educate the public about the distilling process.

“My education background and my continuing study for the art of distillation has helped me to be able to teach others, including our team, how to distill,” says Catucci. “We want to serve our guests great spirits made from scratch, but we also want to educate our guests to the art of distillation.”

Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony last week was Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, along with Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce President John Gregory.

“The city welcomes White Dog Distilling to the craft brew capital of Rhode Island, where creativity and passion are not limited to just the arts,” said Grebien. “They are joining a bustling area at 560 Mineral Spring with a theater company, comedy and improv theater, a brewery and more.”

“Pawtucket continues to show that they are a city that embraces businesses from entrepreneurs to signature companies,” added Gregory. “The Chamber is pleased that they had a chance to work with the city in turning Carlo Catucci’s hobby into a business.”

Catucci lauded Pawtucket’s support in the effort to launch White Dog Distilling, citing the city’s inventive approach to business development.

“Pawtucket is undergoing its own renaissance,” says Catucci. “The city is using innovative and aggressive approaches to attract new businesses and help them as much as possible.”

“The city was extremely helpful in the process of getting this distillery off the ground. That was a very attractive component to choosing Pawtucket as our home,” Catucci added.

While White Dog’s offerings won’t be available in bars or liquor stores quite yet, the distillery will be offering its products exclusively from its tasting room. Currently, state law permits the sale of 750 milliliters of distilled spirits per visitor, per day, to be sold in containers that may hold no more than 72 ounces each. Guests will be able to sample tasting flights and cocktails created in house using their handcrafted spirits.

“Eventually we plan to get our product into liquor stores, says Catucci. “We have to build up to that. We are a small operation, and we are being careful not to overcommit to distributors and fail to meet demand.”

Presently, the distillery is open to the public Saturday afternoons, with plans to eventually add Thursday and Friday evenings to the schedule.

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