Photo by Adobe Stock | Barmalini
Whiskey lovers will want to head to these award-winning destinations that specialize in smooth bourbons and spicy ryes.
By Raphael Beretta and Francesca Furey
It all started at Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery, where Black Dirt Bourbon first debuted. Aged for a minimum of four years, this spirit utilizes corn grown in the Drowned Lands, a wetland complex formed on the floodplains of the Wallkill River. The distillery’s bourbon and Apple Jack was so popular, that owners Joseph and Katherine Grizzanti opened a 4,000-sq.-ft. distillery in Pine Island in 2013 to meet demand. They also produce a 100 percent New York rye and a line of single barrel spirits. Try these terroir-driven drinks at Warwick Valley Winery’s tasting room.
Golden Harvest Farms was established in 1957, but the land has been used to grow apples since the late 1800s. Harvest Spirits Distillery stands in between the verdant orchards and road stand. Their John Henry Single Malt Whiskey—with its signature notes of marzipan, toasted oak, and cacao nibs—is well worth the trip to this 250-acre farm for any whiskey fan. It’s aged in new char American oak barrels for at least two years before it’s finished in applejack barrels for another two to three years. Head to the comfy, dog-friendly tasting room to sip John Henry, or opt for a creative cocktail with apple-distilled gin, vodka, or brandy.
Housed in an 1800s-era Italian-style manor on 27 acres, this newly opened craft distillery serves up small-batch Black Creek Bourbon and Black Creek Rye. Grab a seat on the expansive deck for a tasting and take in the breathtaking Hudson view; you can also order wine, beer, and seasonal bites from the bar. Look forward to future blends including a bourbon made with local maple syrup, and a unique cinnamon whiskey. FYI: Once a particular blend is sold out, it’s sold out; each release is a limited run.
This family-run distillery creates uncommon blends with fresh, local ingredients. Their newest offering is the Red Hook Rye Whiskey (distilled from 100% NY grains) and nicknamed the “smooth operator,” for its balanced flavor profile of sweetness, a smoky palate, and nutty aroma. But, we’re partial to the award-winning Applejack, a twist on Irish whiskey that’s distilled from local apples and aged in white oak barrels. It’s a uniquely Hudson Valley spirit with notes of vanilla, spice, and cinnamon. So basically, it’s a fall staple!
When Ralph Erenzo and his late son Gable first opened Tuthilltown Spirits, they helped start a restoration of New York’s craft distilling scene. Today, visitors can explore five of Hudson Whiskey’s spirits via $12 self-guided tasting flights. After sipping Do the Rye Thing Sazeracs or whiskey sours featuring Bright Lights, Big Bourbon, take a tour of the 1788 gristmill or sign up for a cocktail workshop. Five whiskeys are currently available, including Short Stack, a rye whiskey finished in maple syrup barrels. Stay tuned for The xSeries, a line of limited batch experimental whiskeys.
In 2015, David and Dorit Nahmias launched Nahmias et Fils to produce mahia, a fig-based Moroccan eau de vie (a clear fruit brandy that’s Morocco’s national spirit). Since then, the duo expanded their distilling to include Legs Diamond, an organic whiskey line named after the infamous bootlegger and gangster who frequented the Hudson Valley during Prohibition. The line includes bourbon, rye whiskey, and its newest addition: the Spirit of Yonkers, a collaboration with Yonkers Brewery that celebrates the companies’ love for history (and the city, of course).
Another cute red barn alert! Taconic Distillery’s cozy tasting room serves bourbons and rye whiskeys every Saturday. The views from the patio are stunning, and there are several fire pits to keep you warm. The distillery released their first Straight Bourbon Whiskey in 2013 and have since grown to produce a repertoire of high-proof barrel-strength releases. Owners Paul and Carol Ann Coughlin create their cocktails to compliment specific tasting notes. Try the old-fashioned—the maple syrup and Luxardo cherries highlight notes of butterscotch and caramel in their Dutchess Reserve Straight Bourbon.