A field in upstate New York is waiting to release a prize. Six shipping containers sit on grass, bearing the weight of the entirety of Taconic Distillery’s barrels. They contain Bourbons and Ryes that have aged slowly and exposed to the volatile New York seasons. What will soon be released is guaranteed to taste great, but these containers can’t even begin to hold what Taconic Distillery has planned for the future…
I walked through that field on a ferociously windy day with Matt Frohman, avid outdoorsman, former Westchester County science teacher, and one of Taconic’s passionate team members. In all directions we viewed the rollings hills that are home to Taconic Distillery in Stanfordville, NY. Founder Paul Coughlin purchased the 113 acres, formerly devoted to beef and corn, in 2010 and renamed it Rolling Hills Farm. The property was a blank slate. Today, that slate is being filled with a new distillery building and innovative collaborations that blew my mind.
The smell of raw wood was in the air on the day of my visit. Freshly cut wooden racks in a new barrel room sat empty, making the massive just constructed building look a little more like Taconic’s future distillery. Taconic has been distilling at a nearby distillery since it’s inception. The new building will soon be fully operational, bringing all of Taconic’s operations to Rolling Hills Farm by summer.
First, some work is head. They’ve placed a sizable order for custom tanks and equipment. On the day of my visit, Matt showed me the just arrived column still which laid on the grass outside, dissembled. It was waiting for a pressure test, and if the still checks out, every future sip of Taconic whiskey will pass through its piping. Even water and energy much be addressed. A water diviner recently visited the property, performing something between science and magic. The diviner advised where to construct the water wells, which ultimately will allow Taconic to be energy autonomous and supply the distillery with its own steam power.
With this new building, all production steps will take place under one roof… except one. Those shipping containers are going nowhere. They will continue to serve as Taconic’s rickhouse. A rickhouse is an extremely important and common component to whiskey. It is where the barrels are stored after being filled with fresh spirit. If you are a wine lover, a hot metal container exposed to New York weather sounds like a death knell. Yet, lack of climate control is the intention of rickhouses and whiskey aging. With the changing outside weather wood barrels expand and contract, imparting delicious compounds and flavors into the whiskey. As for aging, a wine’s nightmare is a whiskey’s dream!
All of that aged spirit will soon be available in a new tasting room. An easy ride just off the Taconic Parkway, the tasting room will be an awesome local destination to taste the whiskey line-up, much of which is already sold at Vintology. Their Dutchess Private Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey is awesome. I consider the Founder’s Rye Whiskey to be one of the best ryes I’ve ever tasted… it’s smooth and slightly rich with an ‘every palate’ approachability.
Taconic does not stop at spirits… the team colors way outside the lines. To my surprise and pleasure, Taconic’s real distinction is creative collaborations in various other products. Matt shared how passionate the team is in participating with other innovators in agribusiness in the Hudson Valley community. Below are just a few:
Maple Syrup: Taconic sends their empty bourbon barrels to Catskill Mountain Sugarhouse who fills them with maple syrup. After a few months of aging, Taconic bottles the barrel aged maple syrup, which is product #1. They refill those same barrels with their bourbon and age for a few more months, making product #2: Double Barrel Bourbon Whiskey with Maple Syrup.
Coffee: When Matt approached Coffee Lab Roasters in Tarrytown, he wanted to see how used white oak barrel could affect green, unroasted coffee beans. The collaboration ensued, and the coffee that was infused with flavors of rum and rye was sold out instantly at Coffee Lab. More is to come from this collaboration!
Cigars: Taconic has commissioned their own cigars, tailoring each and every aspect. They’ll be available at the tasting room, and a bourbon barrel aged cigar is in talks!
That day, I took a mental snapshot of Taconic Distillery. The unassembled still, the new distillery building… it all demonstrates an expanding and dynamic operation. The future of Taconic Distillery is not only within those six shipping containers on a rolling hill. Their future is in their innovative spirit. If they imagine it and bottle it, I’ll be sure to try it!
Taconic Distillery spirits and more great finds are at www.vintology.com.
Questions and feedback welcome to [email protected]
*Reposted with permission from Girl Meets Vine. http://elizabethmillerwine.com/girlmeetsvine