That's the spirit: Booze from local crops booming

Associated Press + More

By MICHAEL HILL, Associated Press

GARDINER, N.Y. (AP) — Brian Lee and Ralph Erenzo (uh-REHN'-zoh) cook up hand-crafted whiskey, vodka and gin in a stretch of New York's Hudson Valley patchworked with apple orchards and corn fields.

They don't have to look far for ingredients.

The owners of Tuthilltown (TUT'-hil-town) Spirits in Gardiner (GARD'-ner) try to acquire raw materials as close to home as possible.

The process is sometimes referred to as "grain to glass" — the beer-and-whiskey version of the foodie slogan "farm to table." Tuthilltown is part of a larger movement in booze that includes distillers in Colorado growing their own potatoes for vodka, and whiskey makers in Pittsburgh using heirloom rye.

Bill Owens of the American Distilling Institute says the growth in craft distilleries is driven in part by the desire to connect to local crops and customs.

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