Home Essex County Montclair-Based Brand Misunderstood Whiskey Celebrates 5 Years

Montclair-Based Brand Misunderstood Whiskey Celebrates 5 Years

by Diana Cooper
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National brand Misunderstood Whiskey recently celebrated its 5-year anniversary. After launching in Montclair, NJ, the high-quality spirit has grown tremendously over the past few years and is now available to be shipped in over 42 states. Served both on the rocks and in a cocktail, the ginger spiced whiskey has become popular for many reasons. Read on to learn more about Misunderstood Whiskey. 

misunderstood whiskey bottle

Launching Misunderstood Whiskey

Misunderstood Whiskey was founded by JD Recobs and Chris Buglisi, best friends who have known each other since growing up down the street from each other in Montclair. The men were both working in NYC — JD worked at a tech startup and Christ worked in finance — before they followed a different career path in the spirits industry. 

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The Ivy at Chatham

“As we were starting to become casual whiskey enthusiasts, we saw a big divide in the category between traditional whiskeys and flavored whiskeys…We asked, ‘Why isn’t there something for all of us to enjoy? Why couldn’t we develop something for both enthusiasts and newbies? Why couldn’t we create a product that wouldn’t compromise quality for flavor and would even attract those who seem to suffer from what we call ‘whiskey-phobia’?’ the founders share with Montclair Girl. “That’s when we set out to create Misunderstood. After trial and error, we found that ginger naturally mellowed out the finish of the whiskey we were drinking. It turned that typical whiskey burn to a light heat for a refreshing and smooth finish.”

misunderstood whiskey founders

^ Photographed: JD Recobs and Chris Buglisi

JD and Chris then spent four years developing the product and finally launched the first batch of Misunderstood at Jersey City Whiskey Fest’s inaugural event in March 2017 where there were 1,500 attendees. Two months later, the whiskey completely sold out, which is when the men realized they had something special.

“We believe that not only flavored whiskey, but the whiskey category as a whole can be ‘misunderstood.’ We wanted to break whiskey out of its bottle and change people’s perceptions about the category by developing a high quality and versatile spirit that can be enjoyed by anyone,” the Montclair residents tell MG. “Misunderstood was crafted to be a spirit that is enjoyed all year round, is super fun to mix, and one that is welcoming to any level of whiskey drinker.”

misunderstood whiskey drink based nj

(Photo Credit: @misunderstoodwhiskey)

Growing The Brand

After initially launching in 2017, Misunderstood Whiskey was only sold in three local markets: Montclair, Jersey City, and Hoboken. The owners were also self-distributing the liquor at the time to bring attention to the brand organically and were focused on building a strong digital following to educate and engage followers. Misunderstood, which officially celebrated its 5-year anniversary on March 24, 2022, is now sold in retail settings in 17 states and shipped to personal consumers in over 42 states. 

“We will be distributed in 24 states by the end of 2022. We will be shipping internationally by the end of the year which we’re extremely excited for! On the product development side, we will be releasing smaller size bottles (50 ml) this year in select states, and we are working on a limited release which is slated to hit shelves this October,” JD and Chris share. “We can’t believe it’s already been 5 years but certainly grateful to still be shipping out whiskey and spreading the gingerly love around the nation (and soon the world)!”

misunderstood whiskey from montclair nj

Although Misunderstood is distributed nationwide, JD and Chris will always look back at the brand’s roots in Montclair. The men say that many folks from the town are familiar with Misunderstood and no matter where they go, they’re always educating people about our brand and our hometown.

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“We love all things Montclair and are grateful that the town has embraced our brand with open arms since the beginning. It’s been great to partner with all the local liquor stores, restaurants, and bars,” the founders say. “We’re just blown away by how many people just genuinely love Misunderstood in Montclair. We couldn’t have asked for a better community to grow up in!”

Enjoying Misunderstood Whiskey

Misunderstood, a blend of mostly bourbon with a slight touch of American whiskey, is enjoyed both on the rocks (the owners recommend adding a fresh lemon peel) and in a cocktail. The tasting notes consist of vanilla, ginger, mandarin orange, silky caramel, and honeysuckle. It’s aged in American oak barrels and blended and bottled at 80 proof (40 percent ABV) in Bardstown, Kentucky. 

misunderstood whiskey ginger spiced

(Photo Credit: @misunderstoodwhiskey)

We have over 100 different recipes to choose from and fans are always sharing their never-ending creativity with us. As we get into warmer weather, we love our Ginger Peach Tea or Strawberry Ginger Lemonade,” the owners recommend. “You can never go wrong with a Misunderstood Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or just a light and simple ‘Stood and Soda,’ which is just Misunderstood Whiskey, soda water, and lime.”

To locate a store for purchase or to purchase a bottle (retail cost is $32.99 for a 750 ml bottle), visit Misunderstood Whiskey’s website, found here, and be sure to follow the brand on Instagram, found here.

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