You can tell a lot about a distillery based on its cat. In Albany, NY, at The Albany Distilling Company (ADCo), one of the co-distillers is Cooper, the distillery cat. Cooper has many jobs: security, pest-removal, temperature control, and his main job is guest satisfaction. One Saturday morning in mid-January we met this character along with one of his owners, John Curtin, for a tour and tasting of this almost five-year old distillery in our backyard. John had just returned from meetings in NYC and it seems like ADCo is moving fast and into quite a few markets. Cooper was happy to see him and the other guests that were there to tour this local distillery.
Opened in October of 2012, but incorporated in 2011, The Albany Distilling Company is the oldest distilling company in Albany. It is a farm distillery. ADCo’s license requires that at least 75% of the ingredients used in its spirits come from New York state. Located close to the banks of the Hudson River, ADCo has been growing and expanding in the last couple of years with locations now in Troy and soon in Schenectady. They also recently hired 4 new people in its full first year of distribution. They seem to be running out of space!
Our tour was led by John, one of the co-owners of ADCo. Here are some of the notes we took during the tour regarding the distilling process of their spirits:
750 lbs of grains are milled per batch
Mash Tun is 480 gallons or 1800 liters – 2 stages
2 mashes processed per week
2 Fermentation Tanks – each 550 gallons, fermentation takes 2-3 days
Pot to Column Still
Distilling – 10 liters of heads, 30-40 liters of hearts, 30-40 liters of tails
White Oak barrels used, 30 gallon, 53 gallon and 59 gallon
Barrels come from Long Island, Kentucky, Missouri and Minnesota
In 2015, 91 barrels were produced
A little over 70 barrels are stored on site
The tour was great. John definitely has a passion for crafting spirits. You could tell that they are growing quickly and running out of space. The new additions will be needed. After the tour we moved to the tasting bar which is nicely situated next to the production area. The tasting consisted of the following:
New make from the bourbon mash (60% corn, 25% rye & 15% barley)
Bourbon – a mix of 8, 14 and 16-month-aged bourbon, 43% ABV
Malt – 2 year old (60% barley, 20% oat, 20% wheat), 43% ABV
Rye – about 1 year old (75% rye, 25% malted wheat), 43% ABV
10th Pin – apple brandy
It was a fun tasting. The visitors were asking questions and were enthused.
Charles’ Notes: It’s great to see a local distillery doing so well in such a short period of time. They obviously have large ambitions with the Troy and Schenectady plans, but they do have a leg up in the area since they started early. My favorite spirit that was tried was the Malt. It was unusual using the oat and I thought this added character and a taste that was unique. The bourbon and rye need more time to mature but they are on the right path. It will be fun to watch both the whiskey and the distillery evolve over the next few years.
Certain single malt whiskies have a special place in our hearts. Maybe it was the first one you tried. Or possibly a special dram for a special occasion. The Dalmore holds a place in my heart. It was one of the first whiskies that I tried making me want to buy another bottle! The trip to The Dalmore distillery just north of Inverness in the Northern Highlands of Scotland was a day I was looking forward to for a long time. The distillery is set on the banks of the Cromarty Firth overlooking the Black Isle. It is a beautiful spot and turned out to be worth the wait.
Founded in 1839 by Alexander Matheson, the distillery was leased and managed by the Sunderland family until 1867. In 1886 the distillery was sold to new owners, brothers Andrew and Charles Mackenzie, members of the Clan Mackenzie. Currently the distillery is owned and operated by Whyte and Mackay Ltd which is owned by Emperador, Inc., a Phillipine holding company involved in bottling and distributing distilled spirits.
Our late-morning tour started by learning some of the history of The Dalmore and the story of “The Death of the Stag,” which is also a painting by Benjamin West found in the National Galleries of Scotland. The story goes that the first chieftain of the Clan Mackenzie saved the life of the Scottish King Alexander III during a hunting expedition in 1283. In turn, the King gifted the chieftain with the Royal emblem of a 12-pointed stag that was used in the coat of arms. The 12-pointed Royal Stag emblem is now found on every bottle of The Dalmore spirit, called the caberfeidh. It is quite the story and a great symbol for The Dalmore.
Here are some of the notes from our tour:
Malted barley goes into 14 twenty-five ton bins
Stainless steel Mash Tun holds 42,000 liters of grist
Three water infusions of 62 degrees, 75 degrees and 82 degrees in Mash Tun. Process takes about 7 hours.
8 washbacks hold approximately 49,500 liters of worts. Washbacks are made of Oregon Pine and are between 50-80 years old.
50 hours of fermentation in washbacks
8 stills in total – 4 wash and 4 spirit
Flat-top stills because of the roof of the old barn
Heads run for about 30 minutes, hearts for six hours and tails for about 30 minutes
9 warehouses on site (4 racked) holding 4 million liters of spirit
10% is kept at the distillery, about 60,000 casks on site
Down time is 2 weeks in summer and 2 weeks near Christmas
Overall, it was a great tour of the facility. Pictures were not allowed inside the facility, unfortunately. But we were able to walk around the property and enjoy the views and take in that great distillery smell.
Our tour ended with a tasting in a very nice tasting room where we watched an initial video on the history of The Dalmore. The tasting included:
12 year-old, which is aged for 9 years in bourbon casks and 3 years in sherry casks
15 year-old, which is aged for 12 years in bourbon casks and split into 3 sherry casks for 3 years
18 year-old, which is aged for 14 years in bourbon casks and 4 years in Matusalem sherry casks
Cigar Malt, no age-statement, approximately aged for 15 years and ends in Cabernet casks for 18 months
Charles’ notes: The Dalmore distillery turned out to be a great experience. I did have one regret, however. I ended up not buying a bottle of the Distillers Edition and it haunted me for the rest of my whisky tour through Scotland…!! There were only a limited number of bottles left too. Well, we do learn. The tour was very nice and informative even though our guide was battling through a cold, but she was great and a trooper. There was a funny story about some Scandinavian visitors skinny dipping in one of the water troughs after hours, but that is for another time. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to The Dalmore. It was set in a great spot and close to some good food options as well. We made the day trip up from Aberlour in the Speyside region and this is very doable. We combined this visit with a visit to Glenmorangie later in the day. I look forward to the next visit at The Dalmore.