Geek alert! If you think you’re knowledgeable in the alcohol beverage industry, wait until you meet Stephen, the founder of Stoutridge Winery and Distillery. Stoutridge is located right in the heart of the Hudson Valley, 90 minutes north of New York City on lands that have been continually planted with grapevines and fruit trees for over 200 years. Yes that’s old, as old as the ruins he bought in 2001 with his wife and set off the reconstruction of the buildings (burned down in 1988) and the winery. Their goal was to make natural wines and be as eco friendly as they could be. Their heating and cooling systems are built to be as efficient as possible, the whole operation is setup to use gravity to move heavy loads and the south forward roofs are covered with solar panels to provide most of the electricity needed for the winery and the distillery.
In 2017, they opened the distillery and Stephen had a specific plan in mind. Everything had to be produced from scratch using the craftiest production processes. He proceeded to set up one pot still for each type of spirit he would make. The distillery is equipped with two five plates Christian Carl stills and one thirty plates C. Carl pot still. But his most impressive still is a one of a kind 800 gallons traditional pot still built by Chip Tate, heated with direct fire, a beauty specifically designed to make single malt whisky.
Talking about whisky, when I said “Geek alert”, this is where I was going: he is one of only eight distilleries in the USA to make its own malt and the only one with a kilning floor (traditional way to make malt)! This allows their whisky to have unique, rich flavors and with this they just keep collecting awards after awards; they brought back seven medals at the last American Distilling Craft Spirits Awards alone. They will, without a doubt, become a reference in the whisky world in the coming years.
But the rest of their spirits go through the same dedication; let’s take a regular boring vodka, well theirs is made from the distillation’s tails that are distilled 36 times; it’s a long process, but the result is rich and smooth. They also produce a full-flavored Genever, eaux-de-vie and the funny thing is I am under the impression that every time I visit, he is peeling oranges for his amaro, literally; I even proposed to give him a hand once, but he refused. He is very protective with his oranges, they are almost sacred!
One of his precious spaces is his huge laboratory. You should see him get excited like a mad scientist talking about fermentation, malt, flavors and with a PhD in chemistry he is an endless source of knowledge: he can go on for hours.
The Hudson Valley being a fruit haven, you should try and wait till spring to go visit, it’s simply gorgeous!