Prohibition was a dangerous, glamorous time in American history. It was that gilded, Gatsby era when giggle water flowed, speakeasies thrummed, and underground bootleggers like Dutch Schultz hit the jackpot. It was all the cat’s pajamas until October 10, 1932, the fateful day when the FBI raided the Pine Plains mobster’s illegal operation, confiscating two 2,000-gallon stills and over 10,000 pounds of sugar in the process.
Fast forward 85 years to 2017 when Brendan McAlpine purchased the Hudson Valley property. A local developer whose family helmed the extensive Roundhouse renovations in Beacon, McAlpine knew a hidden gem when he saw it.
“The moment I drove up the driveway and looked at it, I knew it was a project I wanted to do,” he says. He took over the space from the previous owners, who launched the original incarnation of Dutch’s Spirits in Pine Plains. While McAlpine loved the concept and products attached to the distillery, he says that the history is what really drew him.
“It’s not every day you get to take over a property that has 80- to 90-year-old bunkers,” he notes.
Upon securing the space in November 2017, McAlpine went to work on renovations and upgrades to the scenic Dutchess County property. Now, nearly 88 years after that fateful FBI raid, Dutch’s Spirits is officially back in action in the Hudson Valley.
Making its grand debut in the Hudson Valley on the weekend of September 12, the new and improved Dutch’s Spirits is a testament to the history of the brand. Its signature offering, Dutch’s Sugar Wash Shine, is an improvement upon one of Dutch’s original recipes that dates back to 1832, and one that McAlpine first featured at The Roundhouse. Notably, this new version isn’t quite what most people expect of moonshine. Thanks to its use of raw turbinado sugar, the 80 proof concoction is surprisingly smooth for something so powerful and works just as well in cocktails as it does on its own.
“It’s a perfect substitute for any cocktail recipe calling for light rum or vodka,” McAlpine explains, adding that notes of vanilla and grapefruit lead into tropical fruit and maple flavors to finish.
To supplement the trademark moonshine, McAlpine plans to release a New York Empire Rye, along with a line of ready-to-drink cocktails in collaboration with the Dutch’s beverage directors Lynnette Marrerro and Jessica Gonzalez. For the cocktails, Hudson Valley ingredients will feature front and center as a testament to the bounty of the region.
“When you’re distilling in the Hudson Valley, you never have to look far to find inspiration or great ingredients,” McAlpine observes.
Now open for visits, Dutch’s Spirits’ outdoor tasting room invites guests to sip and sample on weekends in the Hudson Valley. In addition to the brand’s own drinks, visitors can purchase New York State-produced beer, spirits, and wine. There’s food, too, thanks to visits by the Embers Wood-Fired Oven food truck, among others. Leading into fall, McAlpine hopes to keep the convivial atmosphere going with special events and programming for the community.
“We’re putting something together here that will be really special,” he enthuses. Looking ahead, he hopes to turn Dutch’s Spirits into even more of an experience by introducing a farm-to-table restaurant onsite in spring 2021.
“People want something that’s connected to history, and a product that celebrates a sense of place,” he explains. “It’s inspiration of the past plus the distilling techniques of today that make Dutch’s so special.”
Ready for a (finally legal) drink in Pine Plains?
98 Ryan Rd, Pine Plains