Sunday, September 5, 2010

Artisan distilleries find a high-end niche

Small companied discover market for hand-crafted whiskey and other spirits. Consumer news - Food Inc. -

This article from 2007 quotes Ralph Erenzo from Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, N.Y. in saying that he pretty much just breaks even and has a regular job. Bottle tops are sealed with wax served up out of crockpots.

They created a wholesale liquor business from scratch. Until they landed a distributor this year, Erenzo loaded up his trunk and made the rounds to retailers from New York City to Albany.

Lee, meanwhile, learned the nuances of fermenting — things like how to retain notes of vanilla in the final product. And he relied heavily on his mechanical aptitude to install the 125-gallon still in the barn’s second floor. The unit — with its bell-shaped kettle, gauges, vapor columns, valves and pipes — looks like a science experiment, which it was.

“It took us about 2½ years from a dead stop knowing nothing about it until ’We can turn this thing on and make alcohol,”’ Erenzo said.

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