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In the Spirit

Bellemara Distillery Serves up Tradition With a Twist

A well-crafted cocktail speaks for itself, and for Camden Winkelstein of Bellemara Distillery in Hillsborough, the backbone of any good drink starts with the main ingredient: the spirit. 

“I’ve always been into home brewing,” says Winkelstein. “After serving several years in the Navy, I wanted to open a brewery.”

He moved to Scotland after finding a master program in brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. “At the time, I believe it was the only English-speaking master degree you could get in brewing and distilling,” he says. “I loved it. It was like all the stages of brewing beer, but there was more technology and equipment with distilling, which piqued my interest.” 

Winkelstein, who co-owns the distillery with his wife, Christina Lee, who manages their social media and marketing, opened Bellemara Distillery in December 2021. The name “Bellemara” is a word they created that translates to “beauty of the sea” in French and Scottish Gaelic. They currently have two spirit offerings, with more on the way. 

“We have a Single Malt Spirit, which is a double-distilled, clear spirit that gets a carbon filter similar to vodka, so it comes out tasting clean but still has a lot of that malt flavor. We also have a Single Malt Gin, which is a clear spirit distilled a third time with juniper, coriander, orange peel and other botanicals,” says Winkelstein, who adds they’re also working on their first batch of American Single Malt Whisky, which will be ready in two years. 

Winkelstein explains that their goal is to showcase what craft distilling can be from a production standpoint as well as how people can enjoy craft spirits in cocktails. 

The beautiful, gleaming copper stills—constructed to be reminiscent of the stills in Scotland—can be seen from the lounge and tasting bar where guests can relax and enjoy seated service. 

“We’re one of only a few distilleries in New Jersey that produce all of their own ethanol in house, so every drop you drink here is made in the stills you’re looking at,” he says. 

Bellemara offers cocktail classes and in the not-so-distant future, Winkelstein hopes to share his love of distilling with the public through a distillers’ hour during which he will discuss the distilling process and give tours and tastings. 

“It’s so wonderful to finally have Bellemara come to life,” he says. “Seeing people enjoy what we’re doing is really amazing, and we couldn’t be more grateful.” 

Discover Bellemara’s offerings at

Garden Party

1 oz Pear Vanilla and Thyme Syrup

1.5 oz grapefruit juice

.5 oz lemon juice

1.5 oz Bellemara Single Malt Gin

Build in a Collins glass

Add ice and then top with club soda. Garnish with a Fresh thyme sprig.

Pear, Vanilla and Thyme Syrup

Slice pears thin and add to pot.

Add water until pears are just fully covered.

Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes (covered).

Add fresh thyme to taste while hot.

Strain. Don’t agitate or press fruit.

Weigh hot pear/thyme water.

Add an equal weight of sugar. Stir to dissolve.

Add 1/8 tsp vanilla extract per quart finished syrup.

  • Cameron Winkelstein and Christina Lee
  • Russell Aagenes, Tasting Room Manager
  • Cameron Winkelstein and Christina Lee
  • Garden Party