Certainly in tune with the times. Could be the poster child product for the Slow Food movement. What are we talking about?
Answer: Bourbon, Rye, Vodka
Right under our noses, and to the delight of the connoisseur, a small group of hardy pioneers are attempting to return to our whiskey producing American roots.
Tuthilltown Spirits in the Hudson Valley is an excellent example of this new wave of distillers. Housed next to the historic Tuthilltown Grist Mill, they are pioneering a return to the tradition of small batch distilling in New York State. Yes, tradition. Bourbon may take its name from Bourbon, Kentucky, but there was plenty of good whiskey being made in New York. By 1825, New York State counted more than a thousand small distilleries, and these are only the ones that ones that were willing to be counted. Prohibition killed the industry and only with recent changes to NYS liquor licensing is the small distiller able to function in the legal light of day in New York.
I confess to being completely fascinated by distilling. Every since my soap making days the concept of distilling something to its purest essence, whether its lavender oil or grain spirits, has appealed to me. Which is why we jumped at the chance to visit Tuthilltown distillery in the quaint little town of Gardiner NY in the heart of the Hudson Valley.
The crew at Tuthilltown Spirits is reviving tradition by using produce from local farmers, their vodka comes from the nearby orchards, and they are using heirloom strains of corn for their whiskey and bourbon.
If you are new to the world of spirits, it can be overwhelming. I always thought you made vodka from potatoes, but Joel at Tuthilltown explained that you could make pure vodka from any produce that has a natural sugar content. They are in an area that has an abundance of apples, so it was a natural to distill their pure vodka from apples. This sounds like ‘terroir’ to me: developing vodka that tastes of its origins. Likewise with their bourbon, it’s being made from an heirloom corn strain that is grown in the region.
The food world elite is obsessed with knowing the origins of their food, so it makes perfect sense to have the development of responsible, local distillers. Let's be clear: we are talking about a very high end premium product, not something that is going to wind up at a college drinking party. This is a precious (read expensive), hand crafted product and something that the Hudson Valley should be proud of.
And what is ‘the angel’s share’? That’s the fanciful description for the amount of whiskey that gets lost to evaporation during the barrel aging process. Can’t you just picture the angels gathering about Gardiner NY and smiling in approval?
P.S. Please visit Tuthilltown.com for more info about this distiller. You
must be at least 21 years old to enter the site. I'm not even going to
comment on the utter lame hypocrisy of clicking on a link that
certifies that you are over 21.
Click here for more photos from our Tuthilltown field trip, no age restrictions.