OK, so last year I went to the Bethel Woods Wine Festival, and after the first day, Bryan Van Deusen and I sent to Catskill Distilling. A little wind down you might say.
I've told the story of Catskill Distilling Company before. The dream for the Catskill Distilling Company began with owner and distiller Monte Sachs, who grew up on a dairy farm in coastal Connecticut and first encountered the art of distilling while attending veterinary school in Italy at the University of Pisa. There, while traveling through Italy, he learned the art of distilling traditional grappa from an 80-year-old farmworker named Bernardini.
With the 2008 passage of the New York State Farm Distillery bill, which facilitates the sale of spirits made by private distillers within the state, Monte decided to turn his attention from the practice of equine medicine to the art of fine distillation. Monte and his wife Stacy opened the micro distillery in Bethel, NY, scarcely a stone's throw from the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival, along with an adjunct business, the Dancing Cat Saloon, which serves not only their own craft spirits but craft beers and fine food.
The first thing we did was whiskeys and bourbons.
Wicked was the first. A six-grain blend of un-aged white whiskey, it was smooth and silky. It's made from wheat, buckwheat, corn, rye, smoked corn and malt. Monte says it's a sophisticated moonshine, and he is right. Refined an elegant. But still a heckava kick.
We tried Buckwheat next. Why trust me? Why not trust
F. Paul Pacult's notes? He wrote, "Pretty brown color, engaging dry aromas of chalk, cement and dry earth that are mingled with caramel and cocoa bean in the first whiffs after the pour; seven minutes later, the nose is awash in cereal grain, honeyed and toasted marshmallow notes that somehow work. Entry is gently, succulently sweet, intensely grainy and rich in vanilla extract; mid palate goes deeper than the entry or the breakfast cereal front as the taste profile enlarges by the nanosecond to include zesty flavors of beeswax, caramel, nougat/candy bar and cane syrup. A new breed of American whiskey is born." I couldn't have said it better myself. Mr. Pacult gave The One and Only Buckwheat 4 stars in the Spirits Journal.
We next tried Defiant Rye Whiskey. Rye was the first whiskey to be distilled on this continent. It symbolized the defiant spirit in every sense during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791, when the farmers who made it rebelled against our new government's attempt to tax it. It was this heroic act of defiance that forever defined and ensured our cherished right to protest. The tax eventually stood, but the rebels' spirit lives on in Monte's Defiant Rye. Vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, maple, dark dried fruits, and so many other things come across in this fantastic rye. Very pretty.
Last was Most Rigtheous Bourbon. I will not go on about it here. I wrote a whole separate review of it elsewhere. All you need to know is that it is among my most favorite bourbons in the Hudson Valley and in the state. Amazing!
Two great spirits. The gin is a wonderful gin, perfect for Martinis and fabulous for G&T although it almost seems a sin to mix it! Peace Vodka is one of the best vodkas in the state. Again, I wrote a whole separate peace about that as well!
And I've already written a whole separate peace on the grappas of the Hudson Valley as well, where I rave about this too!
My accomplice that day, Bryan Van Deusen.
I guess the reason I am really writing this, is because Bethel Woods event is coming up again...and I am looking to return to Catskill Distilling!