Candella’s Distillery Diversifies with ‘Boom Boom’ Bourbon

BOARDMAN, Ohio – After an eight-month hiatus, the man who makes Y-town Vodka is back in business at 4040 Market St., Boardman, and will soon introduce bourbon – “Boom Boom Bourbon” – to his line-up of spirits.

Boom Boom Bourbon. As in Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.

Bill Candella, the first man to legally distill spirits in the Mahoning Valley since the repeal of Prohibition, will serve the bourbon July 15 at the ninth Hudson Wine Festival. He hopes to have it available to the public by the holidays.

Candella has been reassembling the still he moved from 368 McClurg Road where he and his brothers founded Candella Micro-Distillery LLC in 2013.

The former Glidden paint store on Market Street “is three times the size and the rent is less,” the distiller, wine maker and brewer says.

Candella continues to convert and remodel the paint store that will have a “tasting room,” that is, an area to sample his beverages that can be rented for parties.

“Sometime this summer,” Candella says, he will also offer customers the ability to brew beer of any variety, based on their recipes, for their own consumption.

He will provide the equipment and offer his guidance as well. They will pay him for the beer they make and the time it takes to ferment, anywhere from one to six weeks.

“The law says if they use our rig, they have to buy the product,” Candella explains.

The most interesting area is the warehouse behind the store and tasting room. That’s where you’ll find the stills, Candella’s chemistry set, the oak casks and large glass vats filled with vodka and bourbon in the making.

The vats are testing “new processes” of making and aging liquor “with good results,” Candella says. Here the visitor sees cinnamon sticks in a vat of vodka turning a light brown hue and another of espresso vodka with whole coffee beans at the bottom, turning the liquid a darker brown.

“We just won the People’s Choice Award for espresso vodka,” Candella says. The award was presented at the sixth annual Home for Kids Inc. fundraiser.

About a dozen steps away is vodka in oak barrels with oak chips added that will “give it a nice gold color. It will be a cross between a vodka and a bourbon,” Candella explains.

Candella also makes blueberry and other fruit-flavored vodkas. He uses real fruit, he emphasizes, not synthetic flavorings, which is why at the competitions he’s entered, “In blind taste tests, they all pick my vodka. … My vodka is filtered 24 times.”

The vat of bourbon contains oak boards too short to be used in the barrels distillers use to age the beverage. Because oak imparts flavor to bourbon over the time it ages – anywhere from six to 12 years – scientists have looked for ways to accelerate the process.

“Ultrasound really speeds it up,” the entrepreneur says, although he hasn’t used it.

The bourbon he made in 2013 and 2014 will be ready this year, he says. Two years will suffice.

A mutual acquaintance introduced Mancini and Candella in downtown Youngstown. Even before they were introduced, the acquaintance had the idea of having the former boxing world champion endorse Candella’s bourbon to spur sales.

Mancini prefers wine – “I hadn’t drunk bourbon in some time,” he recalls – and he would not endorse any product he hasn’t tried, he says. But Mancini did drink Y-town vodka, though, and “I loved it.”

The champion said he wanted to meet Candella first. “Let’s meet Bill and taste the bourbon,” he said.

“Bourbon is considered a gentleman’s drink,” Mancini says, favored by “young professionals [ages] 23 or 24 to 32.”

Upon meeting Candella, Mancini found that “Bill’s a charming guy. I told him I’d drunk the Y-town vodka and how much I enjoyed it.”

The proposition before Mancini was to both have him endorse the bourbon and have it named after him.

“I tried it,” he says. “It was tremendous. Absolutely delicious. It’s something you nurse and savor. It has a certain cachet.”

Mancini has offered to help Candella promote the bourbon in areas where he has a high profile, such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles, just as he has other products made in the Valley. “I love Youngstown things,” Mancini says.

Candella is still designing the labels to be affixed to the bottles of Boom Boom Bourbon. The bottles will be clear glass with black letters.

One design has “an actual photograph of Mancini as part of the label below the letters,” Candella says. The other has the outline of a boxer – based on a photo of Mancini in the ring – with Y-town Bourbon above it.

Either way, Mancini says, “I’m honored and flattered. … Hopefully, the bourbon will go nationwide.”

Pictured: Bill Candella and his distillery.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.