February 2, 2012

It's been about four months since the still arrived from Germany and only just today, since the trim and painting were finished in the stillhouse, have we been able to install it. Thanks to Mark Thomas climbing up to the cupola and affixing a crossbeam and hoist, we assembled the vodka rectification column top down, 53" section by section, all atop a stainless steel console at a floor to top distance of 25 feet. Nick Haas, a rep for CARL, GmbH (the oldest still fabricator in Germany), came up on Wednesday and helped us finish installing the pipes (for heating, cooling and cleaning, as well as for transporting spirits).


 This was the view from the back door of the distillery after we finished the day:



A visit from Flavien

In September of 2011, John and I were fortunate to meet the international whiskey judge and proprietor of The Brandy Library, Flavien Desoblin, and his cameraman, Felipe Coronado. Flavien is working on a documentary about the distilling movement in New York State.

From left to right: Flavien Desoblin, Mark Thomas (of Boland-Thomas Builders, our construction manager and renaissance craftsman), John Myer, Joe Myer, and Felipe Coronado.


What is Vision?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the word “vision” is from Middle English, with roots in French and Latin, with reference to the words “sight”, “things seen”, and “formed”.

The kind of vision I find most compelling is that defined as “perception or contemplation of an imaginative or spiritual nature; imaginative or mystical insight or foresight” first used in Late Middle English (roughly the years 1350-1450). In the early 20th century, a sub-sense of this came into usage: “the ability to plan or form policy [a proposed or adopted course of action] in a farsighted way…."

What does this have to do with distilling? Well, it happens that although people have been distilling for a few thousand years, it wasn’t until about the 15th century, or the same time period in which the above sense of the word “vision” took root, that what we know as vodka made from grain was widely produced in Russia, so successfully that (according to Russia’s Vodka Museum) Ivan the Third took state control over all vodka production.

Fortunately for us, our government has refrained from taking over vodka production (despite its high regulation). To the contrary, thanks mainly to the vision and efforts of Tuthilltown Distillery’s cofounder, Ralph Erenzo, New York State now supports small scale spirit production by those using fruits and grains from local farms in the distilling process.

While New York State once was home to over a thousand farm distilleries, there have been no legal ones since prohibition until less than ten years ago, from which time they have been popping up like morels after a warm May rain. It is from this inviting climate of artisan revival, including a renewed cultural interest in hand-crafted products, from cheese to chocolates, charcuterie to cashmere, that my brother John and I formed a vision of a majestic building rising from the land we love, from whose doors would flow spirits that sooth and inspire as well as imbue the souls of those imbibing them with a glimpse of a soil's intangible riches. Let us work with the vicissitudes of nature, from dawn to dusk and deep into the night to offer you a taste of the beauty found in a farmer's life—without the expense of toil and time.

Some visions are not easily materialized, but other visions are—such as seeing yourself drive out to Myer Farm Distillers (once we're open!) to experience some locally made spirits.

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