Our Rich Heritage
American Distilling’s history includes decades of consistent quality production and innovation of natural Witch Hazel Extracts for the health, beauty, personal care and pharmaceutical industries. The history of our company dates back to the mid 1800’s, its establishment became the cornerstone of the Witch Hazel industry and ultimately a part of Americana.
Witch Hazel, a standard of identity set forth by the FDA in the USP, is found in various cosmetic and pharmaceutical formulations in medicine cabinets throughout the world. It was first prepared for commercial distribution by the Dickinson family in Essex Connecticut, who later became involved with American Distilling for bulk and retail production.
From humble beginnings, American started producing various extract blends for cleansing, toning and astringency applications by hand in turn of the century copper stills. This was an extremely labor intensive process that had been in existence since the industrial revolution, when many processes for producing staple products such as Witch Hazel were born.
It involved harvesting the raw Witch Hazel material from the woodlands by hand, then transporting it to the processing facility where it would be further conditioned, loaded into the stills using a pitchfork, processed, and the resulting distillate would be pumped into wooden drums by hand. Click to enlarge (Today, in our state-of-the-art facility, we produce our distilled Witch Hazel ingredients through a proprietary custom production system that brings the product from the woodlands to the consumer never having been touched by human hands after harvest.)
Based on the ever increasing popularity of the use of Witch Hazel by formulation chemists and consumers alike, it was felt by American Distilling’s management that there was a need to upgrade and automate the production of this time honored ingredient. In 1981, a new facility and process was built to supply Distilled Witch Hazel on a scale and of a quality that was unrivaled anywhere in the world. This process automated and standardized the time honored techniques used, but maintained the same formulations refined over centuries of production. Also, along with this modernized process came in-house quality control, assurance and R&D personnel and laboratories, engineering, account service and other executives that raised the bar for quality, reliability and efficiency. Other expansions were conducted in 1990 and again in 2000 with a focus on increased warehousing and efficient materials handling to service the world’s demand for cosmetic and pharmaceutical formulations of this time honored ingredient.