The folks at Hudson Whiskey, a craft spirits distiller in Tuthilltown, New York know how to tell a story. The story they tell in From Grain to Glass: An American Spirits Renaissance is more like a journey. Han Shan, Whisky Ambassador at Hudson Whiskey has been on the road talking to distillers all over the U.S. about what many are calling a craft spirits renaissance. This beautifully crafted mini documentary on the current state of craft distilling is itself, a work of art. Take a few minutes to watch and listen to many of the fine folks in this industry as they talk about their love affair with this thing called “Craft Spirits”.
If you’ve been around craft spirits for a while you’ll recognize a lot of familiar faces. If you have not met them yet, you likely will at the next industry event or two.
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Take a few minutes to read through a few of the highlights from the many stories then pour a glass, sit back and enjoy the show!
One of the things that is particularly exciting to me is the introduction of “terroir” into the world of whiskey. Like really, where did the grain come from, where did the raw ingredients come from. In talking about or caring about the place that the whisky is from.
~ Nicole Austin, Master Blender, Kings County Distillery
Terroir – Can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product. Typically used in the wine industry, terroir is the assumption that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that growing site. This includes the geography, climate, soil used to grow the ingredients. In the case of whisky, this would include the locally grown varieties of corn, rye, barley, wheat or the water used for distilling.
Han asks Bill Owens what is about the people that are driving this industry that make it so special.
Go to a visit a winery, there are some tanks, you look around and there’s nothing. You go to visit a brewery and there’s total confusion. Come see a distillery, there’s romance, it’s in there DNA, those guys have the religion. And I remember the first time I went to Belgium; a guy drove me five miles out into the country to show me the dirt. Here’s our dirt. He’s so proud of the dirt.
~ Bill Owens, President and Founder, American Distilling Institute
There is an art in what a distiller does. And those little things are what really take something from good to great.
The first time I met Gable (of Hudson Whiskey) we were doing a little tasting…he had in his bag a bottle of whiskey, so he pulls it out…it was left over from my wedding, I ran it thru the still. Put it in a barrel for a little while. And he’s like I want to taste it with you and I want you to have it. That thing to me, I’m just like, I’m yours man. That’s how they fall in love, I think people don’t fall in love with spirits, they fall in love with ideas, brands, people, and it kind of gives that visceral experience that makes them want to come back and try new stuff again.
~ Michael Neff, Bartender & Proprietor
(On starting up.) It still ain’t easy. Almost like you have to be a little, like half crazy.
~Timo Marshall, Founder, Spirit Works Distillery
There’s a whole new generation of whiskey drinker’s coming online. They want to support things that are local, they want something that feels handmade, and they want it to be authentic.
~ Darek Bell, Distiller/Owner, Corsair Artisan Distillery
There were plenty of times in the history of St. George Spirits where, anybody with a lick of sense would have just cashed in and said it’s time to find another job. And thankfully, we didn’t have a lick of sense and we just kept at it.
~ Lance Winters, Master Distiller, St. George Spirits
The lesson to be learned is that the things which we often think are impossible are not if you stick to them long enough. And if we did it, so you can.
~ Ralph Erenzo, Co-Founder, Tuthilltown Spirits