OK, so last Saturday, while everyone else was working hard, I went out to visit a few places. My primary stop was the first, which was to visit the newest craft distillery in the Hudson Valley, the appropriately named Hudson Valley Distillers, located in Clermont, NY! This meeting had been weeks in the planning, but the hilarious thing was I unexpectedly met them the night before at a fundraiser we were both attending in Kingston, where they were one of the absolute favorite booths.
This is a beautiful cut out on thick steel of their logo done for them as a gift from friends. The cut out will adorn the tastingroom. The whole sheet will also be used as it will also pass for an absolutely beautiful, unique sign. We al need more friends like this! Show's you the level these folks are aiming for though.
There are two couples that own this new establishment - Tom and Jennifer Yozzo and Chris and Jennifer Moyer. They are all long time friends. Tom and Chris had joked and talked about someday going into business together for many years. But when Tom retired from his law enforcement career in Newburgh, Chris was forced to put up or shut up. They told me the tory of how Chris was talking to Tom on the phone one day, traveling near Alexandria to and from his job. It took Chris an hour to get home on a 12 mile trek. Chris had had enough! Chris and Jennifer packed up their bags and moved to Clermont, NY.
"I'm retired," Tom joked. "Chris wishes he was."
My favorite thing about these folks right off the bat? They are genuine good people. Really nice and down to earth. They'll be great behind the bar or sitting down to dinner with. They make people feel welcome and at ease. That's a talent right there in and of itself.
According to Jennifer Brizzi, in the Hudson Valley Almanac Weekly, "The nine-acre farm that is the distillery’s home sits across Route 9 from Tousey Winery. On the site of the former nursery Thunderoc Farms, the renamed Spirits Grove Farm includes a farmhouse, outbuildings, four acres of apple orchards and a hundred-year-old sheep barn that the Yozzos and Moyers have been renovating since July to house the distillery and tasting area."
The place looks spectacular, though renovations were still on going as we spoke. The distillery plans on opening the week after Easter, so things are coming down to the wire. The tasting room needs to be finished, and they were painting the morning of my visit.
The photo below shows the view of the office across the upstairs catwalk/hallway. I took the photo from the founders' room, a special room set up just for the folks who helped found the new project. Were any founders there? Nope. But I did see a whole bunch plants....yep, they are going to be growing their own botanicals.
Spirits Grove Farm was previously used as a nursery and came with a house, retail center, 100 year old barn, a four acre apple orchard, and four greenhouses. The apples will be used to make an apple based vodka and the greenhouses to grow botanicals and flavorings for their gin. Visitors will see every step of the spirits production process, growing grains and fruits, fermenting, distilling, and bottling. The barn is currently being renovated from the ground up to house the distillery and tasting room, with plans to expand the tasting room into the old nursery retail center in the future.
Currently, they have sugar cane (for small batch rum), hazelnut plants, mandarin, tangelo and yuzu (a kind of Asian citrus fruit for zest for distilling). How much do I love these guys?!
The still is an impressive one, and immediately demonstrates the goals of Hudson Valley Distillers. Already bottled and label is their new applejack, but the multiple columns tell you they have a lot more up their sleeve. Their goal is to make applejack, whiskey, gin, and vodka right off the bat. Other things like a bourbon or a grappa will probably be on the way.
Their still is beautiful and it is state of the art!
And of course I totally geeked out when they showed me they were doing wild fermentations for their cider for the applejack! I just absolutely loved that. These guys want to do everything from the ground up. They'll be growing fruits and botanicals on the surrounding acreage so that their potables will absolutely have a sense of place - of terroir!
This is an experiment, aging their applejack in chestnut instead of American oak. Too cool!
Applejack is a strong alcoholic beverage produced from
apples, popular in the American colonial period. Applejack was historically
made by concentrating cider, either by the traditional method of freeze
distillation or by true evaporative distillation. The term
"applejack" derives from "jacking", a term for freeze
distillation. However, recent versions have normally been made using modern
distillation. So it is with Adirondack Applejack from Hudson Valley distillers.
It’s made with local apples.
"We buy our apples from Ken Migliorelli," Chris Moyer told me. Migilorelli Farm Stand is one of the biggest supplier of fruits and vegetables on the east side of the river, and of exceptional reputation. "The apples are grown and pressed right around the corner," Chris says.
"The applejack is aged in 10 gallon American white oak barrels," Chris adds. "We distill it at a high proof, we think that makes it a little smoother while it is still young. Kind of like the Irish talking about their whiskey, distilled three times so it is smooth."
This new distilled applejack has a beautiful nose of apples,
toffee, and hints of vanilla and toast. A beautiful liquor with a nice upfront
rush of apples with a nice, smooth finish. It’s medium-bodied with not too much
burn. If you like lighter styled bourbons, this applejack will be right up your
Chancellor Robert Livingston was an author of the Declaration of Independence, an entrepreneur that brought the steam ship to the Hudson River Valley, and the man that administered the oath of office to George Washington. He also once owned the land that we now call Spirits Grove Farm.
OK, so now you want to buy some, but where to get it?! The folks at Hudson Valley Distillers’ products will be selling their product in local farmers markets in the valley. Of course, they will be opening their tastingroom soon. They'll be open every Fri, Sat, and Sun from 1 to 6 p.m. All other days are available with an appointment.
Hudson Valley Distillers
1727 Route 9
Clermont, NY 12526
They are getting tons of press....check it out....