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 property. A local developer whose family helmed the extensive Roundhouse renovations in Beacon, McAlpine knew a hidden gem when he saw it.
A portrait of infamous bootlegger Dutch Schultz
“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.
Since securing the space in November 2017, he’s been hard at work on renovations and upgrades to the scenic Dutchess County property. As of press time, he was waiting for state licensing to begin producing Dutch’s signature Sugar Wash Moonshine once more. After all, it was the first product from the brand that he was introduced to while at The Roundhouse.
“We featured a special cocktail very early on with the Sugar Rush Moonshine,” he recalls.
To supplement the trademark moonshine, McAlpine plans to release gin, bourbon, and maybe even brandy and rye down the line. He will also bring back the brand’s three cocktail bitters to further add to the drinking experience.
Of course, spirits aren’t the only thing McAlpine wants to reincarnate at the distillery. Come spring 2019, he hopes to reopen a revamped version of the tasting room as well.
Entrance to the historic onsite bunkers
“We’re putting something together here that will be really special,” he enthuses. Once the distillery and tasting room are up and running, he plans to make use of the historic belowground bunkers, the very ones that Dutch Schultz used to hide his stash. Although nothing is confirmed yet, ideas for the space include everything from liquor storage to a dedicated Dutch Schultz museum.
Overall, McAlpine hopes to meld the space’s recent and longstanding history with his own years of experience in real estate development and as manager at The Roundhouse to turn the property into something that reaches far beyond the concept of a Hudson Valley distillery.
“Down the road for me would be an event space or a very serious event and hospitality angle,” he says. “My hope is to have a hotel on the property as well, to make it a destination for this part of the Hudson Valley.”
Until then, we all have to content ourselves with counting down the days until Dutch’s moonshine makes its long-anticipated return to the Hudson Valley.
The bunkers from a distance