You’ve Heard of Tennessee Whiskey? Meet New York State Rye (via New York Times)

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You’ve Heard of Tennessee Whiskey?

Meet New York State Rye


By Clay Risen   |   October 16, 2017   |



Representatives of New York State distilleries producing Empire Rye, gathered at Cardiff Giant, a Brooklyn bar: from left, Daric Schlesselman and Sarah Ludington of Van Brunt Stillhouse; Colin Spoelman, Kings County Distillery; Ralph Erenzo, Tuthilltown Spirits; Christopher Williams, Coppersea Distilling; and Allen Katz and Bill Potter, New York Distilling Company. 

Credit: Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — Christopher Williams, intense, wild-eyed and with a face bracketed by a shaggy goatee and wire-rimmed glasses, looks more like a revolutionary than a whiskey distiller.

In fact, he’s a bit of both. This month, led by Mr. Williams, nine New York State craft distilleries — including his Coppersea Distilling — will each introduce a whiskey labeled Empire Rye, creating a new style of whiskey to help them break from the pack in an increasingly crowded craft spirits market.

Empire Rye — an appellation that requires, among other things, that distillers use New York State grain and age their whiskey for at least two years — represents a novel turn in American distilling. At a time when bourbon is made by small distillers in 48 states, Mr. Williams and his co-conspirators are betting that consumers will buy into the idea of a spirit distinguished by its regional pedigree, in the same way that millions of drinkers worldwide identify Jack Daniel’s as Tennessee whiskey, or Château Latour as Bordeaux wine.

“My vision is that bars and liquor stores and the public will see this as a mark of authenticity..."



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