With a name like Hudson Valley Distillers, you know they are all about sourcing ingredients for their spirits from the bountiful Hudson Valley. The owners, Chris and Jennifer Moyer, have a mission to create uncommon yet approachable “farm-to-bottle” spirits using local ingredients from farms within walking distance of the distillery.
There’s something special about this place…
Tapping into the bread basket that is the Hudson Valley for inspiration is just one of many reasons this distillery is special. Hudson Valley Distillers has been family operated and veteran owned since they opened their doors in 2015. While I’ve tried their spirits before, this was my first visit to the distillery. Walking the grounds and listening to Chris tell the story of their spirits, coupled with their hospitality, made me feel like I’d known them for years. And yes, this was before tasting any of the delicious spirits they have to offer. There’s something to say about that.
A process that gets better with time
The Moyers approach distilling as an evolutionary process that gets better with time. As Chris described his techniques, I could tell this is a guy who is genuinely passionate about making the best possible drink for their customers. He’s not afraid to ask questions. For example, why not play around with the char level in relation to different barrel sizes? Why not add staghorn sumac to Fellows Gin? Why not make a “New World Gin” made from New York State grapes, instead of grains? Questions like these not only make each recipe unique, but also allow the spirits to “pour nice with others”, as they say. It’s this type of free thinking that makes their spirits some of the tastiest to sip or mix. They are constantly striving to give you the best pour.
What is a Hybrid House?
Hudson Valley Distillers is considered a “hybrid house”. That means their aged Applejack and Bourbon whiskeys are branded with their namesake. Yet they also produce outside brands such as Fellows Gin and Three Cedars Vodka at the distillery. Despite the different brand ownership, the gin and vodka still carry the essence of the Hudson Valley in every pour.
The only thing better than a well-crafted spirit is the memories you make while drinking it
Hudson Valley Distillers isn’t just crafting better spirits, they are creating memories. Their motto of “Time Well Spent” aligns with my blog, Farm2ChefsTable’s, core values. Their spirits feel right at home at my own dinner table, being passed among friends and family. They will feel right at home on yours, too.
As the distillery says, eloquently:
“Great spirits, like great memories, are meant to be savored. Our
exceptional yet approachable spirits are hand-distilled from fruits
and grains sourced in our own Hudson Valley “backyard”. We make
our spirits easy for you and your friends to enjoy, while old stories
are told and new memories are made – either at your own table, or,
with us at our farm distillery tasting room. Some call it a better
way of doing things, but we like to think of it as “Time Well Spent”
What’s in a bottle?
Infusing the flavors of the Hudson Valley into each spirit and supporting the local agricultural community are the essence of Hudson Valley Distillery. They are located within six miles of Stone House Grains, where they source local grains and corn to make their spirits. It’s literally right in their “backyard”. You also can’t talk about Hudson Valley ingredients without mentioning apples. Fortunately, Ken Migliorelli of Migliorelli Farm is just four miles down the road. It was only fitting to utilize the farm’s apples for their Applejack brandy.
Sourcing ingredients right from their backyard has a much deeper meaning than just great quality. They are committed to being part of the community. By sourcing their apples and grains from neighbors and friends, Hudson Valley Distillers are part of an ecosystem that promotes economic and ecological sustainability. If you had to put it into monetary value, the distilled spirits industry in the Hudson Valley alone had a positive economic impact of $63 million in 2020. Yes, $63 million.
What they pour
Hudson Valley Distillers Applejack is made from local apples that grow just down the road. The spirit ages in white oak barrels. This is a smooth and complex Applejack that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of an orchard sipping among the apples from which it’s made. The flavor starts out apple forward, then is complemented by notes of vanilla and spice. The finish is crisp, with a faint hint of cinnamon. The ingredients on the bottle are short and sweet: yeast, apples, water. It’s arguably the purest form of Applejack.
Hudson Valley Distillers pride themselves on using 100% local grains. This “uncommonly gentle” bourbon has a mash bill of 77% corn, 15% wheat and 8% barley. Much like their other spirits, it is easy drinking and captures the soul of the Hudson Valley. It doesn’t beat you over the head with attitude. This bourbon is made to savor, not to put “hair on your chest”. The nose of toasted oak and toffee is balanced by earthy, citrus notes. The wheat in their bourbon makes for a softened and enjoyable finish.
As Hudson Valley Distillers says (and I agree), Fellows Gin “pours well with others”. This is their version of a New World gin. They turn their attention to 100% local grapes as the base, instead of grains. Grapes make for a lighter, crisper and more friendly gin. The most intriguing ingredient is staghorn sumac. As you drive up and down the Hudson Valley, you’ll see staghorn sumac growing along the roadside. Yet, it is massively underutilized. Staghorn sumac has a nice, floral, lemony flavor that makes complete sense in a gin, especially one that is made in the Hudson Valley. I personally love using staghorn sumac in this Sumac & Sancho Pepper Grilled Salmon with Summer Squash & Grated Tomato Vinaigrette recipe on Farm2ChefsTable. Botanicals such as coriander, juniper berries, lavender, organic cucumber, orange peel and rose petal complete the bouquet.
“Born of Good Roots”. Three Cedars Vodka is made of 100% organic corn from New York. Great local ingredients are what makes this vodka so special. Hudson Valley Distillers believes that what you put in, is what you get out. With a short list of only three ingredients (corn, yeast, distilled water), there’s nothing to hide behind. It’s no wonder you can taste the quality. This smooth vodka can be sipped alone, and also holds up nicely in blended cocktails.
Speaking of cocktails, all of Hudson Valley Distillers’ spirits are great by themselves, but they also play well with other ingredients for an unforgettable sip. They have crafted sumptuous, ready-to-pour Hudson Valley cocktails for seven years. The recipes are simple, balanced and most importantly, complement their hand-crafted, distilled spirits. The best part is you can take them home. Their ready-to-pour cocktails are already mixed, so you can simply pour and enjoy anytime you like!
On the menu, you will find:
Basil Crush, made with Fellows Gin
North of Manhattan, which features Bourbon Whiskey
Jacked Up Sidecar, made with AppleJack
Lemon Drop, featuring Three Cedars Vodka
Wrapping up a day at the distillery
Overall, this family-owned-and-operated distillery is quintessential Hudson Valley. I’d like to extend a special thank you to Stephen Theiss, brother of Jennifer, Marketing & Brand Manager, for setting up the opportunity to visit Hudson Valley Distillers. Seeing this tight-knit family operation reminds me of what Farm2ChefsTable is all about: Enjoying the bounty of the Hudson Valley with friends and family around the dinner table. Time Well Spent.