I, like most people, moved to New York to follow my dreams. However, my "dreams" have yet to go beyond "be a fancy lady who lives in NYC." And part of being a fancy lady includes taking weekend trips to the countryside to sip alcohol and complain about the bugs. So, I suppose you could say my recent trip to Tuthilltown Distillery in Gardiner, NY totally qualifies as productive in terms of goal-reaching.
Plus, I'm sure I made my mom proud since I went with my little sis and her boyfriend (plus Dan) and I ordered a side salad with my pastrami sandwich at lunch. Family time? Check. Eat your vegetables? Check. Holding my liquor like a lady? Check.
Now, I love a good whiskey (OK, I love a good anything edible-- except corn.), but seeing the inner workings of this tiny distillery was beyond charming. In about an hour's drive, we were transported to a twinkly creek-side operation, run out of an old grist mill. My heart exploded at the story of the owner who, originally on a quest to open an inn for rock climbers, instead took a path toward whiskey distillery when permits didn't line up on his original plan.
Our tour guide talked of tiny batches, hand-stamped labels and a salesman bringing bottles to some of NYC's liquor merchandisers in an antique apothecary bag. Couldn't you just squeal? The operation has grown bit by bit since they started and they've since invested in new aging barrels and more temperature-controlled equipment, but something tells me that Tuthilltown Spirits will always feel delightfully like a bunch of hobbyists having a great time with their whiskey-making.
I did manage to squeeze in some questions with our tour guides about barley, quality control, "notes" and the usefulness of the many solar panels on their site. But overall, I think we were all just woozy with delight at the enchanting, family-run operation. Oh, and probably from the whiskey too.
Not only does your tour include a taste of some of the distillery's whiskeys, but you can also sample their bitters, Half Moon Gin (made from apples and wheat), syrupy cassis and special-edition vodka (also made of distilled apples). The distillery makes use of the local geography and agriculture, always admirable, but is also one of the most fun days out of the city I've had yet. Consider a trip this summer next time you're wanting to feel a little bit fancy.
Oh, and call me if you do. I'd go back in a heartbeat.