After 28 years and 10 deployments as a member of the military, John Sorgini is ready to move on from that part of his life.
As an air battle manager in the Air Force, Sorgini traveled the world on active duty, rising to the rank of colonel, which he’ll retire with at the end of the summer. He’s also spent time as a corporate lawyer, balancing two intense careers while serving his country. If anyone could use a soft landing, it’s probably Sorgini.
Cue next career. Sorgini is the founder of Chattermark Distillers, a Charlestown company he started in 2019. The goal: to become a whiskey-first distillery in the heart of Boston, inspired by Sorgini’s memories of a difficult job well done.
After tough missions, “your team would come together and enjoy a drink and share time and stories,” says Sorgini. “We wanted to produce a spirit worthy of those moments.”
The name Chattermark is a brevity code, used during combat deployments as a directive to switch frequencies. Sorgini used it personally, and says it symbolizes overcoming adversity and being resilient to carry on with the mission. He wanted to reference his military past with the name but not make the distillery entirely about that.
The distillery currently offers four spirits: a straight rye whiskey, a straight bourbon, a white rye whiskey, and a gin. The “straight” designation refers to the fact that the spirits have spent at least two years aging in charred oak barrels. Chattermark sources all of its grain from New England farms, taking the long way to produce each product with a local terroir. The bourbon, for example, is made from 63 percent corn, as well as rye, wheat, and malted barley from Maine Malt House in Mapleton, Maine.
“Making whiskey from scratch is kind of our thing,” says distiller Kyle LeClerc, who has been with Chattermark since the beginning “I always love the opportunity to tell people that bourbon can be made outside of Kentucky.”
Another product, Pot & Column White Rye, is made from New England winter rye that’s distilled to a higher proof than Chattermark’s original rye. A change in the distillation process produces a clean, clear spirit with bright flavors of plums and rising rye dough.
Sorgini admits he has trouble choosing a favorite spirit.
“If you have kids, you know you don’t tell them which one’s your favorite, right?” says Sorgini. “I love them all, but if I had to pick one I’d probably go with the rye or bourbon.”
Still to come from the distillery are a single malt whiskey (which needs a few more years of aging), a corn whiskey, as well as some cordials, which will help with Chattermark’s cocktail program. Chattermark occupies the former Downeast Cider space underneath the Tobin Bridge, and due to licensing can only serve its own products onsite. Visitors can come grab a cocktail on Thursday through Sunday evenings. Tours and tastings take place every Saturday at 4 and 6 p.m.