The First Legal Distillery in NY Since Prohibition
For 220 years Tuthilltown Gristmill, a landmark which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, used waterpower to render local grains to flour.
In 2001 Ralph Erenzo and Vicki Morgan acquired the property to open a rock climber’s ranch, but the neighbors balked. So he had to find another way. The 220-year history of the mill led him to it. Grain, water, yeast and a new purpose: He decided to make whiskey.
In 2003, Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee created Tuthilltown Spirits LLC, and the two used their own skills and a lot of hard work to convert the two granaries into the first whiskey distillery in New York State since Prohibition.
As they didn’t know anything about distilling whiskey, they both were not able to think “out of the box.” Instead they burned the box, and started fresh.
Brian and Ralph spent two years traveling to distilleries and talking to experts around the globe. All the while building their distillery, acquiring our permits and waiting for our stills to arrive.
It took six months of experimentation to produce great, rich whiskey by hand, one batch at a time. Along the way they changed the way whiskey is made and they changed their lives.
The Industrial Revolution dies at the beginning of the Tuthilltown driveway. The distillery is all about handcrafted spirits. Their Distillery-men are always in direct contact with the materials and the spirit of the distillery.
From grain to glass, they take great care and pride in all of our spirits. They’ve captured local flavor and ambience using the agricultural resources of local farmers while leaving a smaller footprint on the environment.
Their handmade spirits, which start at the farm distillery as raw grain and fruit, are made without added flavor or color. Products include the Hudson Whiskey line: Baby Bourbon, Manhattan Rye, Single Malt, and New York Corn Whiskey; Indigenous Fresh Pressed Apple Vodka, produced from 100% locally pressed fresh apple cider; Roggen’s Rum, an aged rum made from blackstrap molasses; Half Moon Orchard Gin, with a unique spirit base of 20% apples and 80% wheat, Tuthilltown Cassis Liqueur, and Basement Bitters.
Like true New Yorkers, the Tuthilltown distillery team has toughed it out through some pretty difficult times, yet thrived. The staff is honored and thrilled to have been named “Best Artisan Distiller of 2010” by the American Distilling Institute.
Meet the Tuthilltown Team
Ralph Erenzo - Distiller, Partner
Ralph brings 35 years of production and development experience to the distillery. Prior to starting Hudson Whiskey, his business, ExtraVertical Inc., provided technical services to corporate and media clients for projects that required technical skills developed over his 25-year rock-climbing career. Ralph built and managed New York City’s first public climbing gyms including The ExtraVertical Climbing Center on Broadway. His dream of a “climber’s ranch” near the largest rock climbing area in the East were set aside in favor of producing high-quality spirits. Ralph’s writing and commentary have been featured in national media including Op Ed columns for the New York Times. His work at the State level has resulted in the passage of the Farm Distillery Act, which permits New York farms to establish distilleries on site and sell their agricultural spirits at the farm. Born and raised a New Yorker, he has realized a lifelong dream of settling in the Hudson Valley.
Brian Lee - Distiller, Partner
Brian has designed and built the technical facilities for Tuthilltown. He is responsible for engineering and all technical aspects of fermentation and distillation for the company. Brian also serves as CFO for the company. Prior to his work with Hudson Whiskey, he was a senior technical designer for a company building high-end broadcast television facilities. His clients included SKY Latin-America, CBS, and NBC. He served as the on-site technical consultant for ESPN’s conversion to HDTV. Brian’s technical and mechanical skills ensure all the systems at the distillery continue to function and we are constantly on the search for more efficient methods. He is currently contemplating hydro and solar power as supplemental energy sources.
Gable Erenzo - Distiller, Brand Ambassador
As Distiller and Brand Ambassador, Gable divides his time between production and the national roll out of Hudson Whiskey. With over 15 years in production and national event management, an associate’s degree from CU, and a BS in Business Management from SUNY New Paltz, he brings considerable business knowledge and experience to the company. Gable’s prior position as Head Distiller and Production Manager at the distillery educated him about all aspects of the Hudson Whiskey production process, preparing him for his current role as Brand Ambassador. A rock climber and outdoor enthusiast from the very start, Gable has been climbing in the “Gunks” for over 20 years. He is happy to be working at something he loves, surrounded by friends and family.
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