Excellent Whiskey, Memorable Cocktails, and Great Food at Tuthilltown Spirits Slideshow

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This Hudson Valley distillery helped launch New York state's craft whiskey movement

Tuthilltown Spirits

Walking around the property at the Tuthilltown Spirits complex in Gardiner, just west of Poughkeepsie in New York state's Hudson Valley, you’ll experience a taste of the past. Vintage equipment and signs adorn the restaurant and gift shop, and old grindstones can be found dotted throughout the garden beds.

Ralph Erenzo, a skilled rock-climber and the proprietor and visionary behind the Hudson Whiskey brand, has been climbing to the top his entire life, and in the process he’s helped to launch New York’s craft whiskey movement. Under his tutelage, Tuthilltown Spirits earned the distinction of being the first distillery to open in New York state since Prohibition, and his Hudson Whiskey’s signature expression, Baby Bourbon, recognized as an iconic American whiskey, is the first bourbon ever produced in the state. Tuthilltown also produces a range of other whiskeys, as well as gin, vodka, and rum, all of them utilizing the bounty of local Hudson Valley farms and orchards.

My visit to Tuthilltown included meeting Erenzo, and featured a tour of the distillery followed by a beautifully prepared luncheon and the best whiskeys I’ve ever tasted, which I enthusiastically sampled. Truth be told, I wasn’t a whiskey drinker before my visit… Well, that’s changed!

Han Shan

As part of the distillery tour, Tuthilltown U.S. brand ambassador Han Shan shares a taste of whiskey straight from the barrels.

After the tour, it was time for lunch at Tuthill House. The restaurant has two floors. Downstairs is the kitchen, along with the bar and some tables alongside the wall. There is a lovely bank of windows in the back overlooking the stream and an outside deck for alfresco dining. The drinks and food were beautifully prepared; every bite, every sip, was delicious.

Getting Caught in the Rain

To whet the appetite, we started with my new favorite drink, called Getting Caught in the Rain. A luscious cocktail made with coconut-infused Hudson Manhattan Rye, pineapple, vanilla, and egg white, it’s as delicious as it is beautiful.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Next up, an heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese and local greens served with a sherry-shallot vinaigrette.

Sauteed Sea Scallops

Could it get any better? Why, yes. Perfectly plated sautéed sea scallops with baby turnips, radishes, fennel, and asparagus, served with a citrus vinaigrette.

Friends With Benefits

The next cocktail served was called Friends with Benefits, made with Hudson Manhattan Rye, Dolin Blanc vermouth, and Aperol.

Lime Panna Cotta

Dessert was a makrut lime panna cotta served with blueberries and a poppy seed tuile. Move over, crème brûlée — this is my new favorite. I look forward to trying to recreate this recipe.

Burnt Ends

The last cocktail served ­was Burnt Ends, smoked-apple-and-vanilla-infused Half Moon Orchard Gin mixed with rum-based St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram and lemon juice — a refreshing summer drink with a symphony of flavors. I normally don’t go for gin, but the Half Moon combines New York wheat and apples with less juniper than usual for a lighter spirit.

Vintage Gristmill Equipment

The Tuthilltown Gristmill, the oldest continuously operated water-powered gristmill in New York state, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout the restaurant and the facility, you’ll find links to the gristmill’s past in the functional pieces of mill equipment, shafts, hoppers, grain elevators, hullers, blowers, and the original stone grinding wheels.

Tasting of Whiskeys

After lunch, we walked around the mill and enjoyed a tasting of New York Corn Whiskey, Baby Bourbon Whiskey, Single Malt Whiskey, Four Grain Bourbon, Manhattan Rye Whiskey, and Maple Cask Rye Whiskey.

Gift Shop

Tuthilltown's country store sells not only whiskey and other spirits distilled on the property, but also house-made bitters, chocolates, maple syrup, and other goodies.