Big Cypress Distillery Opens to the Public August 20

Big Cypress Distillery began gin production on a 50-gallon still last December, but more work needed to be done to build out the rest of the facility, located at 13995 SW 144th Ave. in Southwest Miami-Dade. Now the distillery is open to the public and will officially launch its gin and rum brands this Saturday, August 20.

From noon to 7 p.m., the distillery will provide punch cocktails made with Big Cypress gin and rum, along with light bites. If the grand opening isn't too crowded, co-owner Fernando Plata says tours might be conducted. Along with his cousin Mark Graham and in-law Danny Garo, Plata started the distillery from licensure to production in a matter of months.

Big Cypress gin is infused with wood notes. It stands out from other gins, such as a London dry like Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire, Plata explains.

Aside from the gin, two Big Cypress rums will be available: a Spanish style and a Navy-strength variety (57 percent ABV). All of the rums are made with sugar and organic molasses, Plata says. The Navy rum is made with dunder (the liquid left over in the boiler after making a batch of rum) and lightly aged. The Spanish style is aged in new American white oak barrels at a char level of four to yield a highly complex flavor reminiscent of Old-World rums.

"It's perfect to replicate some of the rum punches our Founding Fathers were drinking over 200 years ago," Plata says.

Bottles of Magic City gin and Spanish rum will also be available for purchase. However, Florida law allows the purchase of only two bottles per person per year per brand for up to four bottles directly from a distillery. Despite that, Big Cypress nevertheless joins the handful of distilleries in Miami-Dade that produce locally made spirits.

Producing its own brand of spirits is only a part of what Big Cypress does. With an extensive list of more than 50 unique botanicals, the distillery also makes bespoke gin — custom-made spirits for bars and restaurants.

Dried botanicals are good, Plata says, but ingredients will be kept as fresh and local as possible. He wants to enlist the brain of someone who's familiar with native herbs to use in the gin-making process.

Plata is also looking into producing bitters and amaros (a bittersweet Italian digestif). 

Although the custom bottles will clearly indicate their contents are made at the distillery, each recipe will remain exclusive to the establishment as long as Big Cypress produces it for them. Once a recipe is discontinued, Plata will make it available to the public. 

The recipes, as well as the opening, are part of Plata's overall commitment to transparency at the distillery. "The whole process will be detailed," he says, "the temperature, the yeast, how we blend them, everything." 

Whether you're a newbie or an experienced distiller, Plata invites you to his distillery. His goal is to bring people together and help demystify the liquor-making process. 

"The main purpose here is for our lab to have the deepest understanding of gin and provide a very balanced, good amount of depth and complexity in our spirits," Plata says. "Really what we want to do is invite gin nerds or anybody who wants to become a gin nerd to come distill with us."

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