Tuthilltown Spirits’ visit to PovCo

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When Tuthilltown’s Hudson Whiskey was recently featured in Food & Wine Magazine, (with a terrific photo of their distillers on left, © Darryl Estrine) I sent a congratulatory email to the charming and capable Joel Elder from Tuthilltown Spirits, who had visited us in May. Not only did he write up a short guest blog entry, but also left us with a powerfully delicious sampling of their Hudson Whiskeys, Bourbons and Rums. We’re looking forward to tasting their apple brandies someday in the future.

Here’s what Joel had to say……

There is something incredible happening in artisanal craft spirits, especially in the USA. I happen to be fortunate enough to work for one of the leaders of this micro-distilling movement, Tuthilltown Spirits, located in New York’s Hudson Valley. The Hudson Valley is famous for a lot of things, but apples are one of the things it was best known for. With the decline of the family farm and skyrocketing property values, the orchard tradition in NY has suffered immensely. Some of the more interesting apple varieties like the Kingston Black & the Esopus Spitzenberg, which was developed in this area, are now nothing more than a little-remembered legend.

In spite of the dearth of varieties, the Hudson Valley remains one of the premier fruit growing regions in the nation. We have always had a great interest in all things apple (in fact, our first product was Heart of the Hudson, a cider vodka) and have been trying to locate some of these legendary varieties. Incredibly… they don’t exist! Well, OK, they exist, but in the same way that Brylcreme still exists. You know it’s on some old pharmacy shelf somewhere. Needless to say, our searching was… fruitless. Until I found Poverty Lane Orchards.

I recently made a pilgrimage to Lebanon, New Hampshire seeking out scions of these vestigial trees. Unfortunately Stephen (the business owner, grower and cider maker) was away that day, but Corrie, Jess & Nicole invited me into the cider room to taste through… well, basically everything. There is so much that one can’t predict when working with fruit, but the ladies really helped me understand where each of these stars existed in the apple pantheon. I have to come up with a lot of weird terminology for tasting notes (apricot, attic dust, Banana Runts), but these three came up with the BEST & WEIRDEST tasting notes I’ve ever heard. For example: Saddle Soap, Anxiety Sweat, Sea Breeze & Two people in love. Considering that a lot of the esters & phenols detected in cider are persistent throughout nature, they were damn accurate. Suffice it to say that I came away enlightened and with enough genetic stock to double our available fruit varieties! It was an incredible experience and I can’t wait to taste our first harvest! Thank you, Stephen for all the work you’ve done preserving these delicacies for future generation. What a gift.

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