The Washington Post
The Impulsive Traveler: In N.Y.’s Hudson Valley, spirit of hard cider returns
November 17, 2011
We climbed a creaky metal ladder, my mother and I following Gable Erenzo into an attic splotched with October sunlight. “These are all experiments,” he said, gesturing to a jumble of three-gallon oak casks, 53-gallon whiskey barrels and seemingly every size in between.
The attic — in Gardiner, N.Y., above the tasting room where Erenzo and other employees of Tuthilltown Spirits pour sips of their New York Corn Whiskey and Hudson Manhattan Rye — exhaled a museumlike aroma of wood and dust.
It was a fitting smell. We’d planned our trip to the Hudson Valley to visit artisans who have recently begun bringing back hard cider and apple brandy — the stuff of colonial taverns, Revolutionary War rations and local myth. A 1940 New York travel guide describes gnomes who danced under the full moon and “brewed a liquor that shortened the body and swelled the head.” Henry Hudson’s crew, it continues, is said to have made their acquaintance: “When the sailors departed, they were distorted by the magic distillation, which, we moderns know, was Catskill applejack.”