From the black dirt to the bar

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Any day now, you will be able, probably for the first time since Prohibition, to sip a whiskey distilled from corn grown right here. Or perhaps you prefer a vodka made from sugar beets that came out of the black dirt in Goshen.

The Orange County Distillery, the latest innovation from fifth generation Goshen farmer John Glebocki, will open its doors as soon as the last details in the federal approval process are ironed out, likely this spring.

When Dirt spoke with Glebocki last year about how old farm families were evolving with the times, he emphasized that “We’re definitely headed toward value-added. Growing product and having it packed into purees, or frozen. The distribution of those value-added, if my girls are interested, is probably where it’s going to be.”

The distillery was still hush-hush then, but the wheels were already in motion. After New York State passed the farm distillery law in 2007, creating a new boutique distilling license that made it exponentially cheaper and easier for micro-distillers to make and sell spirits, Glebocki saw the avenue to the future.

For three years, Glebocki has been trying his hand at growing corn, barley, and rye for various whiskey recipes, and sugar beets for the “neutral spirit” that can be turned into vodka or gin. He envisions coming out with five or six different products, producing about 30 liters a day. According to the distillery’s website, “100% of our product will be grown on our farm.”

Orange County Distillery will become the fifteenth micro-distiller in New York, according to the American Distilling Institute. It will be the second in Orange County, joining Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery. But competition is not an issue at this stage.

“Not at all,” said Glebocki. “Even with what we all produce, it still wouldn’t meet the demand” for local, small-batch, novelty booze.

New York State, while it’s no Kentucky, has emerged as a player in the whiskey game – and, we’ve noticed, one with some swagger.

“Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Johnny Walker, it’s always been this thing, well only they can make it,” said Glebocki. “Well, not true. New York, we can come up with much better product in a small capacity – there’s so much attention to each bottle.”

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