Saturday, November 04, 2017

Stoutridge Winery & Distillery - Steve Osborn Has Found Nirvana

Stoutridge Vineyard and Distillery is a premium estate winery and distillery owned by Stephen Osborn and Kim Wagner located in Marlboro, NY. Next to the winery is a picturesque and historic stone farmhouse known to elder locals as "The Homestead." Its ten foot high fieldstone foundation was built around 1855 and was dug out of the vineyard hillside. This house had a barn, which between 1902 and 1919 was the "Marono Winery." Its one dry-stacked stone foundation wall remains.Their impressive new winery building is directly on the site of the "1902" Marono Winery. 

Stoutridge features a "gravity flow" style production with an emphasis on the use of traditional "hands-off " winemaking techniques. Their solar photovoltaic array on the south roof of the production area is over 2,000 sq. ft of cell area and can produce 30 kW of electricity on a sunny day, making this a net neutral facility. None of the wines are pumped in anyway since it is all all gravity system. 

Stoutridge Vineyard

Stephen sells his whites a little older. He likes the maturity that they experience. The Seyval Blanc and Cayuga White blend was convincing of that belief.. And the Hudson Heritage White also provided a very nice older white. Both were impressive.Heritage White was my favorite.

I was always a fan of the Quimby Rose, and I was equally impressed but slightly darker Ridge Rose, light and full bodoed, but still more like a rosatto was eight years old...Lovely. Also loved the Chancellor 2008 (which was begging for a steak) and always my favorite here the Gravitas 2008 (a bend of Frontenac and DeChaunac). 

Now, Stephen has had a fully operational distillery since he opened. He just never fired it up. I will not lie It's a lot of expensive equipment, and I never understood how it wasn't working, paying itself off. But in the last year, Stephen finally got his license, linked up the last few connections, and started firing up these big bad boys! And its a good thing for all of us he did.

Stephen has always been a good winemaker, His natural wines are popular within the Shawangunk wine trail, and his natural winemaking is always grabbing press, and winning solid reviews and stories. But from what I have tasted form his new still, there is no question that Steve is about to move into a whole new stratosphere.

First off the bat was the Vodka. Stoutridge Six Vodka has been run through 36 distillation plates before it's ready for sale, according to Osborn's specifications in order to create the purest, cleanest vodka that is made today. The vodka is smooth as silk, and easy t drink straight, let alone with ice, or even in a cocktail. Goes down super easy without a burn. Hints of vanilla and just clean. Amazing.

 Stephen actually makes three gin-styled spirits. I'm only going to talk about two: Gen and Gin. Stoutridge GenX Genever Style Gin is  86 Proof gin made from rye and corn. This is a  classic Jenever (or very light styled gin, due to the way it's made. It's not a spirit that is passed through the gin basket full of botanicals, other most gins. This is a special gin because, firstly, this is a white whiskey (rather than a traditional vodka), and is made in a Genever-style (also known as Jenever -an old styled gin) that is a white whiskey made from a pot still and flavored with the juniper berry, cubeb pepper and gentian root botanical flavors. Here the botanicals are added to the mash. No gin basket. The final effect is a light, etheral white whiskey gin with a multitude of flavors. Lovely. Impressive.  

Stoutridge Gin0 94 Proof is made from 100% Hudson Valley grain which offers a classic London Style gin. Here, gin is run through a traditiotnal gin make a dry gin. Lots of lemon and lime, with notes of pie crust and baked bread. An exceptional bold, craft gin. Lovely. 

At Stoutridge W Light Whiskey is made from a mashbill of 50% corn and 50% rye grown locally at  West Wind farm near Albany. I tasted Batch 2. According to the distillery, "Light Whiskey is a Federal definition that means distilled at a higher proof than bourbon or rye." The whiskey is aged in New York grown, white oak wood barrels.  It's stored in 28 gallon barrels from Quercus for 6 months. This is an impressive whiskey. For a young whiskey, it has immense flavor. There's light caramel, soft vanilla, and sweet maple, and lovely soft cereals. A beautiful easy light whiskey. 

Stoutridge Rye will be due out in about 18 mos. Maybe a little less. It's is nothing short of spectacular. It has the softness of wheat but the boldness of a big rye -a profile with the softness of Willett rye. The finish is extraordinary with caramel, vanilla, and gingersnap in a big swirl. It will be when released one of the best rye whiskies made on the east coast. 

Also tasted the Stoutridge Single Malt that will not see the light of day again for many years (it had only been in the barrel for six weeks or so). But that too showed immense promise!!!!

Amaro (Italian for "bitter") is an Italian herbal liqueur that is commonly drunk as an after-dinner digestif. It usually has a bitter-sweet flavour, sometimes syrupy, and has an alcohol content between 16% and 40%. Stoutridge Amer is an homage to that idea. And let me say this - its a seriously legit Amaro! Tastes like Aperol! Get you Negroni on Hudson Valley style!

According to Wikipedia, "A kirschwasser (German for "cherry water") or kirsch is a clear, colorless fruit brandy traditionally made from double distillation of morello cherries, a dark-colored cultivar of the sour cherry. However, it is now also made from other kinds of cherries. The cherries are fermented completely, including their stones.Unlike cherry liqueurs and cherry brandies, kirschwasser is not sweet. The best kirschwassers have a refined taste with subtle flavors of cherry and a slight bitter-almond taste that derives from the stones." This Stoutridge Kirschwasser is made from Hudson Valley cherries. A bright, clean eau de vie. Excellent.

Again, Wikipedia says that "Slivovitz, Šljivovica, Śliwowica, Slivovitza, Schlivowitz, Slivovitsa or Slivovica is a fruit brandy made from damson plums, often referred to as plum brandy. Slivovitz is produced in East-Central and South-East Europe both commercially and privately. Primary producers are in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. In the Balkans, Slivovitz is considered a kind of Rakia, in Hungary Pálinka and in the Czech Republic and Slovakia Pálenka, corresponding to the distilled spirits category."

Stoutridge Slivovitz is made from 100% plums grown as a neighboring farm. Stephen says, "They were very clean, very pretty. I'll try 'em." The result was a spectacular plum eau de vie. Clean, bright, with notes of fresh fruit and vanilla. Fantastic! 

There is no question that Stephen Osborn has found his true calling. While he is a very good wine maker, he was born to be a distiller! He has a light touch, and a discerning palate. He has a brilliant distilling future in front of him!  


I like that Stephen is sing authentic wooden fermentors and pot stills to make his products!

Stoutridge is also among the only distilleries in the state malting their own grains in their own malt room (and he will be smoking his own malt as well).

They have their own self-designed bath for their grain which makes sure the grain is watered and rotated evenly before its given a chance to germinate on the distillery malting floor.

Stephen intends to be so legit, he hired Chip Tate's new distilling firm to create a handmade copper pot still so that he could make eve more legit single malt and whiskey. The pot has a classic fluted neck like the best Alembic stills. This behemoth will be Stoutridge's fourth still! It just arrived a few days ago!!! Chip is one of the best distillers in the world, himself, and his new stills are nothing short of amazing!

If you like distilleries, or great gin or terrific whiskey, your next top in the Hudson Valley should be Stoutridge!