Farm to Bottle
ORANGE COUNTY'S BLACK DIRT REGION is not only unique to the Hudson Valley, its rich, fertile soil is exceptional on a national scale. The agricultural bounty it produces serves a dual purpose for John Glebocki, whose 120-acre family farm in Goshen is now supplying a whole new market: the organic ingredients used at Glebocki’s new distillery.
Last October, Glebocki opened Orange County Distillery in a 1,600-square-foot barn on the farm. There, Glebocki and his business partner, Bryan Ensall, make, taste and sell very small batches of bourbon and corn whiskey, gin and vodka. All the ingredients—barley, corn, rye, root vegetables and botanicals—are culled right outside their front door on 20 acres of farmland devoted to the distillery.
“Because of the abundance of nutrients in the soil, we get excellent quality with little effort,” Glebocki says. “We get this big, beautiful starchy corn. The farm sits on a very large aquifer, so our well water adds to the uniqueness of our product.” Ensall, who owns and operates a lawn care business nearby, adds, “We’ve learned everything together.”
The team launched the business in earnest in April 2014, beginning with a sugar beet vodka. The entire distilling process occurs inside their barn, fronted by a cozy, rustic tasting bar. Grains are mashed, fermented, malted, distilled, aged and bottled by hand on the premises; the barley malt is dried in the attic, under a tin roof, alongside seven different botanicals reserved for the gin. Their barley is smoked over peat pulled from the farm.
Currently, four “estate” spirits are being made and sold on the farm; a rye whiskey as well as aged and unaged single malts are the works. Organic bitters boasting essences of chocolate, hot pepper or tobacco are in the experimental stage.
Orange County Distillery’s products are available at Soons Farm Market, in New Hampton, and at the Union Square GreenMarket in New York City. Both Blue Hill restaurants serve the products, as do select restaurants in Orange County, including Catherine’s (Goshen), Christopher’s Bistro (Chester), Copper Bottom (Florida), Landmark Inn (Warwick) and Nina (Middletown).