The idea of starting Gristmill Distillers began like many great ideas before it — with a few libations. After a day of climbing the Adirondacks, founder Keith Van Sise and his friends were hanging out at his house, which his fiancée jokingly calls “a frat house of rock and ice climbers.”
“We always talked about possibly starting a distillery, but it was just drunk guys talking,” says Van Sise, with a laugh. “I guess I took it a little too serious.”
Gristmill Distillers is a farm distillery located in Keene, NY, founded July 2013. “Our climate and ingredients play a big role in how our spirits age and their flavor profiles,” says Van Sise. The water they use courses from a spring within steps of the distillery’s front door, the corn and rye are grown by nearby Adirondack Organic Grains, and the brandy apples are picked and pressed from an orchard less than 35 miles down the road. “The area that a spirit is produced in creates a different flavor, and I think that’s what makes us different.”
The offerings include Black Fly bourbon whiskey aged in American oak barrels, Rusty Piton corn whiskey, and 1892 Forever Wild apple brandy. Van Sise’s fave is the seasonal maple-flavored Black Fly whiskey, which has the characteristics of bourbon with a subtle maple finish. “It’s at a higher proof, so you get the sweetness of the corn and the heat of the alcohol, and it finishes with a hint of maple syrup.”
Lucky for county whiskey lovers, Gristmill spirits are sold at Varmax Liquor Pantry in Port Chester, as well as the farmers’ markets in Rye and Larchmont, and served at Bar’Lees Wine & Whisky Bar (Mamaroneck), The Craftsman Ale House (Harrison), and The Oath Craft Beer Sanctuary (Tarrytown).