What's behind the distillery boom across New York state?

April 03, 2017 02:43 PM

CLERMONT, COLUMBIA COUNTY: There's a lot going on inside a charming red barn off Route 9 in the small town of Clermont. There's old world charm on the outside, with a new world feel and operation on the inside.

Hudson Valley Distillers is one of New York's newest distilleries. The business opened up in 2012, the 42nd distillery to open up in the state.

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Their most popular spirit is Adirondack Applejack. It's a whiskey and they make one heck of a cocktail with it.

On a quiet Wednesday morning, while they're bottling whiskey in the back, co-owner and bartender Jennifer Moyer demonstrated how to make one of their most popular cocktails: a jacked-up sidecar.

"It's made with Adirondack Applejack, our orange infused Fine Shine Applejack, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and shake it over ice, and you have a jacked-up sidecar," said Moyer.

There are more than 100 farm distilleries operating in the state. More than half of them opened up within the past two years and that's because of the Craft New York Act. The law passed in 2014 relaxes rules on obtaining permits.

Moyer's husband, Chris says, "New York also allows us to sell direct to bars and liquor stores which is different from other states."

That is the main reason why they opened up their business here. Chris Moyer along with college buddy and retired police officer, Tom Yazzo, looked all over the country and they say New York is currently one of the best places to open up a farm distillery.

They started making spirits on a small distiller in their back yard. "It took about 3 years of really cranking away before I thought I could make something I could actually serve," said Yazzo.

They have now graduated to a much bigger machine that can pump out up to 100 bottles a day, making gin, whiskey, brandy and vodka. They produce at least 10,000 bottles a year.

Distilleries aren't just for people who enjoy to drink, these businesses pour money right back into the local economy.

"We source 75 percent of our ingredients from the state of New York. The taste is different and the quality is higher, we believe. "But, it also goes to that guy down the road who also happens to be my customer," said Chris Moyer.

Hudson Valley Distillers recently underwent a major expansion. They're hosting live music, comedy shows and can accommodate events. 

"That's our goal, we want people to come and be able to hang out and bring their kids and even their dogs and be comfortable in this space and I think we've achieved that goal. It's just a matter of letting more people know that we're here," said Jennifer Moyer.

In the meantime, they're already making plans to create a grape brandy and a pear brandy.

"I think you're going to see a whole bunch of guys like us and it's going to change the face of the liquor store and what it looks like," said Chris Moyer.


Subrina Dhammi

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