As you drive through the rolling hills of Stanfordville, you’ll come across a hidden gem called Taconic Distillery. A giant red barn-style building draws you in with a foxhound painted on the side that appears to jut up from the fields that surround it. You know you’re somewhere special when you see it.
The people behind Taconic Distillery
We all have hobbies. Perhaps whiskey making isn’t one of yours. Fortunately for us, Paul and Carol Ann Coughlin turned their whiskey-making hobby into a business. They loved making whiskey so much, they bought 115 acres of farmland in 2010 to turn their hobby into a full-time job, leaving behind careers in finance and marketing. They started Rolling Hills Farm, sourcing all of the distillery’s ingredients from their own land as well as neighboring agriculturalists in Dutchess County.
One of the things I love about Taconic Distillery is that it is family owned and operated. It gives a humbleness to the overall atmosphere of the distillery. Even with all that humility, they still manage to produce award-winning whiskeys. They’ve earned gold and silver at the San Francisco Spirits Awards and SIP Awards, and have a 90+ rating in Jim Murray’s “Whisky Bible”.
What goes in a bottle at Taconic Distillery
Local ingredients and attention to detail are what makes Taconic Distillery’s products so special. They use New York grains and spring water from a limestone aquifer to produce all the whiskey. A Vendome continuous-column still produces the award winning spirits.
Taconic Distillery preserves their complete flavor of their delicious whiskey, by not chill filtering.
Whiskey is distilled at below 160 proof to retain more of the flavor from the grains it was made from. Taconic Distillery is proud of the local grains they put into each bottle. So, it is important to preserve the flavor of the grains at all costs. Those flavors are transferred through the distilling process as fatty molecules (flavor oils). This is a step that separates them from many other distilleries that may sacrifice flavor for clarity, as they chill filter their whiskies to remove some of those fatty molecules. They get a clear whiskey, but remove some of the flavor. Taconic does not chill filter, so sometimes their whiskey may show some “cloudiness”. This does not mean the whiskey is flawed. However, the proof is in the bottle! They have managed to impart as much flavor as possible by skipping the chill filtering process.
The whiskey gets a wonderful color and flavor from aging in 53-gallon Cooper’s Select seasoned barrels, char level 3. Each barrel is aged four years or longer in metal shipping containers in an uninsulated metal rick house.
The rick house is very important. During the summer, the wood staves expand, allowing the spirit to soak into the wood and create a deep, smoky flavor. They also like to finish some of their whiskey in specialty barrels, which adds to the spirits’ complexity.
What They Make
Taconic Distillery Spirits: Mash Bill:
Straight Bourbon Whiskey (90 and 115 proof) 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley
Straight Rye Whiskey (90 and 115 proof) 95% rye, 5% malted barley
Double Barrel Maple Bourbon (90 and 115 proof) 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley
Mizunara Finished Bourbon (107 proof)
Cabernet Finished Bourbon (90 proof)
Cognac Finished Bourbon (90 proof)
Madeira Finished Rye (90 proof)
More on Taconic Distillery
As you can imagine, Taconic Distillery makes wonderful rye and bourbon. I strongly suggest sipping them as is. Taconic Distillery has some tasty cocktails on their website that are curated by Carol Ann.
When it comes to your morning bourbon fix, Taconic Distillery also has you covered. Catskill Mountain Sugar House ages their maple syrup in the distillery’s barrels for six months. This delicious syrup is great on pancakes, or you can try it on Farm2ChefsTable Maple & Black Peppercorn Glazed Parsnip with Speck, Pear & Walnut recipe.
Aside from whiskey and bourbon, one cannot talk about Taconic Distillery without talking about Copper the American Foxhound. After all, you will see him painted on the distillery when you visit. Copper is also featured on the label of all Taconic Distillery’s products.
During my visit to the distillery, I learned why Copper was so important to Paul and Carol Anne. The origins of foxhounds in the United States can be traced back to an English hunter by the name of Robert Brooke, who settled in the Hudson Valley in the 1650s. George Washington, who also had a home in the Hudson Valley and was himself a whiskey producer, purchased a foxhound from the Brooke family several generations later. Then, in the early 20th century during Prohibition, foxhounds alerted moonshiners when government agents were closing in on their operations. For these reasons, Taconic Distillery likes to credit Copper and his ancestors for bringing the phrase “man’s best friend” to the New World.
Copper spent his life in the Hudson Valley and passed away a couple of years ago. His spirit and image live on in each bottle of Taconic Distillery’s whiskey.