Black dirt gets its very own bourbon
On November 29, onlookers gathered to watch a crane lower a 60-foot-tall copper still into a red pole barn in Pine Island. In about six months, the Kentucky-made still will be boiling up 10 barrels of Black Dirt Bourbon a day, making the Black Dirt Distillery one of the largest, if not the largest, distillers in New York State. Next fall, Black Dirt Apple Jack will be added to the repertoire.
The distillery is a spin-off of Warwick Valley Winery, and an unexpected one at that. It owes its existence to a pair of changes in New York State liquor law, which lowered the price of a small-scale distilling license from $50,000 to $1,450, as long as the bulk of the distillery’s ingredients come from in-state. That’s no hardship when it comes to corn and apples.
“We had hopes the hard cider business would grow, and it has,” said Jason Grizzanti, co-owner of the Winery. “But the distilled spirits portion came out of the blue.”
Black Dirt Bourbon and Apple Jack are already being made in a small still within the winery, three miles away from the Pine Island facility. But the two barrels per week produced there aren’t enough to satisfy demand. When the winery released its first small batch of bourbon in September, it sold out in five weeks.
It will be about three and a half years until the first batch from the new still will be ready to come out of oak barrels. 2016 should be a good year.