Puerto Rico Distillery

Interview by: Vanessa Moreno

This month, East Frederick Rising wanted to take the opportunity to put a spotlight on a minority owned business, specifically a father and daughter dynamic duo, Angel and Crystal Rivera of Puerto Rico Distillery. Puerto Rico Distillery offers traditional Puerto Rican rums/cocktails and hope to share their culture with the Frederick community. Pick up some pitorro, sit down and read about Puerto Rico Distillery, how they were able to continue business operations at the height of COVID-19 and their visions for East Frederick!

What is your mission?

To promote Puerto Rico’s national rum (Pitorro) which is molasses-based and traditionally made clandestine (moonshine). We also hope to highlight and share our culture and heritage in a positive manner and for the enjoyment of our Frederick neighbors.

What do you offer to the community?

Pitorro is found only in Puerto Rico…and now in Frederick, Maryland! With this product we will offer artisanal rums and cocktails flavored with tropical recipes and flavors. We also hope to add to Frederick’s rich multicultural scene through community engagement opportunities.

How long have you been in business?

We opened mid-March of this year so AFTER the COVID-19 pandemic closed all businesses. We’ve been planning and building up for a little over two years though.

Why did you choose East Frederick (current location) as your home?

We looked at East Frederick about two years ago and although everything seemed perfect for our distillery, we tried for a year to find a location near Columbia MD because we had been living in Columbia for the past 19 years. After a year of failed attempts, primarily due to cost or regulatory issues, we decided to check in Frederick again. It again felt very right so we sold our home in Columbia and moved to East Church after we secured a five-year lease at the Hartz Business Center right in front of the Municipal Airport. It has truly been a pleasure working with city officials and private vendors as we completed our buildout. We are very happy to be both East Frederick home and business owners.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected business for you? And how did you have to adjust?

It prevented us from opening the way we were planning for the past two years.

Luckily, the City of Frederick, the State of Maryland and TTB have been very responsive and we were able to shift gears to making hand sanitizers, and selling our product thru curbside pickup and delivery. We also used social media to stimulate sales through presentations of our products on both Instagram and Facebook.

What are you most proud of in your work?

That the business was started by the father and daughter team of Angel and Crystal. Angel is a retired Navy Lieutenant Commander that now works as a Defense contractor, and Crystal worked previously for the Maryland and then National Restaurant Association.

Do you collaborate with other businesses in east Frederick and if so, who?

We have given plenty of work to local businesses (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, supplies) but due to the pandemic, have not had the opportunity (in our short time open) to reach out to other businesses. But we do believe in partnerships, we currently have one with the University of Maryland for honey supply through their Bee Research Program, and intend to strengthen our ties to the business community as soon as possible.

What is your favorite part about working in east Frederick?

That we live next door, that everyone is very friendly, and the scenery around Frederick is beautiful.

East Frederick is still mainly considered an “industrial” part of town that is slowly beginning to commercialize and draw in new businesses. Do you have any dreams or visions for the future of East Frederick?

More properly planned residential areas, so those customers could walk to our distillery 🙂

How does PRD plan to reopen to the public with outdoor seating?

Unfortunately, we do not have an outdoor space or seating. When circumstances change, and we can have gatherings, we do intend to host events at our distillery with live music inside and food trucks out front. We are looking forward to the day we can invite the East Frederick community to Puerto Rico Distillery.

And there we have it! You can support Puerto Rico Distillery through ordering curbside pickup and by following them on social media (Instagram and Facebook).

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