Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Behind the Scenes at Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery in the Hudson Valley Ralph Erenzo when he started what would become Tuthilltown Spirits in 2006. There was so little published about microdistilling at the time that he spent two and a half years with his business partner Brian Lee, experimenting with a furnace (purchased on e-Bay) and a German pot-still (no instructions included). They used apple scraps from a nearby apple-slicing plant in the Hudson Valley to produce their first batches of vodka.

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It was actually pretty sweet kismet that in 2002, New York had passed a law encouraging spirit makers to set up micro-distilling operations using locally farmed products. They could now purchase a license for only $1,450 instead of the previous, whoppin' $50,000. So Erenzo converted a granary in Gardiner, New York, which adjoins a historic gristmill (dating back to 1788!) into the state's first distillery since Prohibition.

After the early vodka experimentation, they made their now biggest seller (40% of sales), the Baby Bourbon made from 100% New York corn. The "baby" refers to the smaller, three-gallon American oak barrels they use to increase the exposure to the charred white oak. It's in there for just four short months, whereas a more "adult"-sized (like say, ten-gallon) barrel could take over a year to express the same mildly sweet, vanilla-hinting, smooth flavors.

We recently took a tour of the Tuthilltown distillery, which you can too; they offer them on Saturdays and Sundays at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. You clearly can't leave without popping into the tasting room for a flight of whiskeys, which are bottled in their short, pudgy, apothecary-reminiscent 375-milliliter bottles. The tasting room is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Stay tuned for some new Tuthilltown products ahead: gin and vodka made with New York state wheat and a cassis.

Visit the distillery with us! »

About the author: Erin is the national editor of Serious Eats. You can follow her on Twitter: @erin_zimmer

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