If you’re an alcohol connoisseur, you’re likely familiar with distilleries or may have even visited one at some point. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, a distillery is a factory that produces various types of liquor — specifically whiskey, vodka, gin and rum products. New York, in particular, tends to be a popular state for the distilling industry. It houses more than 100 distilling companies and carries a fascinating history.
In this complete guide to New York distilleries, we’ll cover some significant historical periods and popular distilleries in various regions of New York. After reading through our extensive New York State distilleries list, you might even want to tour one of these yourself. Let’s dive in!
A Brief History of New York Distilleries
Today, there is a wide range of fully-functioning distilleries across the state of New York — however, these would not be possible without the hard-fought battle to legalize the production and wholesale of liquor. It’s important to both understand and appreciate the defining periods in history that helped contribute to New York’s existing distilleries today.
In 1640, North America’s first commercial distillery was built on Staten Island. This marked the beginning of distilling in New York, which was then known as New Amsterdam. The island’s Dutch settlers created a new version of their traditional grain-based gin drink, Dutch Genever. From here, distilling would begin to flourish and quickly become a significant part of the New-World culture.
After the British takeover of the American colonies, rum was highly sought after, as it was the preferred drink of the American colonists. For this reason, protest ensued when Britain imposed taxes on molasses, an ingredient used to make rum.
Years went on of colonists trying to obtain rum, trading with other colonies and smuggling it whenever possible. In an attempt to limit access to molasses, Britain continued to impose laws such as the 1733 Molasses Act and the 1764 Sugar Act. With these regulations in place, it was more difficult for colonists to smuggle molasses into their territories and trade it with fellow English and foreign colonies.
Following the American Revolution, America’s consumption of rum decreased dramatically, and people began turning to whiskey production instead. After America’s independence, whiskey became integral to the country’s farms. With the imposing of a whiskey tax in 1971 came a violent uprising of farmers and distillers. This brutal event became known as the Whiskey Rebellion.
In 1802, the whiskey tax was officially repealed — this prompted what is now known as the “Golden Age” of New York distilling. The number of farm distilleries across the state rapidly began to increase, and Brooklyn quickly became a hotspot for whiskey producers to serve liquor throughout the city.
However, the outbreak of the Civil War and its large expenses brought the reinstatement of whiskey taxes. Taxes grew so high that many distillers were driven underground. Eventually, nationwide business interests closed most of the distilleries in New York, marking the end of the Golden Age.
Lasting from 1920 until 1933, the Prohibition period was a crippling time for America’s distilling industry. Under the 18th Amendment, the manufacturing, wholesale and transportation of alcohol were prohibited.
Prohibition sparked the illegal production and sale of alcohol known as “bootlegging” and showed an increase in violence and criminal gangs. Eventually, Prohibition would be repealed in 1933 with the passage of the 21st Amendment.
2004 marked the beginning of contemporary distilling when a few pioneers consulted with the state to allow the return of distilleries in New York. Since then, hundreds of distilleries began to open across the state, many of which are still around today. In our next section, let’s look at some of New York’s most successful distilleries, starting with the Albany region.
Being New York’s state capital, Albany has thrived in various areas throughout the years — international trade, railroad construction, banking, technology and of course, whiskey production. The area is also home to numerous New York state distilleries, including Albany Distilling Co. and Capital Distillery. Additionally, the region hosts a variety of popular wineries, such as Empire Wine & Liquor and Capital Wine & Spirits Albany.
Distillery Spotlight — Albany Distilling Co.
Located in New York’s historic downtown, Albany Distilling Co. is an award-winning distillery that carries a rich history and charm. Founded in 2011, it was the city’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition. Since the release of its first product, a bourbon-mash whiskey, the company has produced a wide variety of rums, aged and unaged whiskeys and vodkas.
Albany Distilling Co. has partnered with small local businesses such as Nine Pin Ciderworks and Death Wish coffee to produce unique and delicious spirits. In fact, this is how the riveting coffee and vodka blend known as “DeathWish” was brought to life.
Home to well-known tourist attractions such as Lake Superior State Park and the Woodstock site, Bethel is a prime spot for art and music festivals — including the highly attended Woodstock Festival — and other community events and celebrations. The region houses many NYS distilleries, including Catskill Distillery, Do Good Spirits, Milk Street Distillery and Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery.
Distillery Spotlight — Catskill Distilling Company
Catskill Distilling Company was developed shortly following the passing of the NYS Farm Distillery Bill, which authorized licensed citizens to manufacture and sell New York State-labeled liquor. Catskill opened in 2011 in Bethel, New York, just a short distance away from the historic Woodstock Field.
Since then, the distillery has continued to thrive more each year. Its diverse collection of spirits includes vodka, whiskey, grappa and gin products. Its Peace Vodka, Fearless Wheat Whiskey, Curious Gin and other liquor products are known for encapsulating themes of love and peace. The company welcomes various festivals and music performances for visitors as well.
Known as the prime location for whiskey production back in the Golden Age of distilling, Brooklyn is now home to numerous distilleries, including Greenwood Grape & Still, Kings County Distillery and Van Brunt Stillhouse. It’s also famous for its wide range of tourist attractions, such as the Brooklyn Museum, Coney Island and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Distillery Spotlight — The Noble Experiment
Home to Owney’s Rum, The Noble Experiment is New York’s first exclusive rum distillery since Prohibition. The owner, Bridget Firtle, saw an opportunity to bring rum back to America — specifically her hometown of New York City — and officially started the company in 2012. With her vast expertise in the spirits industry and on the history of the distilling movement, her business became a success.
The distillery’s elegant interior features a rustic tasing room, large windows and adjoining bars and art galleries. Its line of rum products features hints of molasses, caramel, vanilla and tropical fruit flavors, as well as rosemary and mint grown from its own backyard.
Part of the Finger Lakes district, Burdett is famous for its detailed architecture, restaurants and wineries. Catharine Valley Winery, Silver Springs and Ryan William Vineyard are popular tourist attractions in the area.
Distillery Spotlight — Finger Lakes Distilling
Finger Lakes Distilling uses fresh, locally grown crops such as fruits and grains to craft quality handmade spirits. It features an array of whiskey, vodka, gin, grappa and brandy products. Its tasting room, which is open year-round, offers an affordable and educational experience — visitors can learn about the complete distilling process and taste samples.
The distillery’s design was inspired by traditional Scottish whisky distilleries, featuring intricate details such as black trim, white walls and an elaborate pagoda roof. Since its start in 2007, Finger Lakes Distilling has strived to devote careful attention to every product, aging its whiskeys in oak barrels and using natural fruit flavorings for a traditional, timeless taste.
The Hudson Valley carries a rich, extensive history involving the Revolutionary War, Industrial Revolution and the formation of the Hudson River School. Today, it houses distilleries such as Hudson Valley Distillers and Cooper’s Daughter Spirits. The region is also home to several wineries, including the Brotherhood Winery, which survived Prohibition by being granted a religious exemption.
Distillery Spotlight — Cooper’s Daughter Spirits
Located at Olde York Farm along the Claverack Creek, Cooper’s Daughter Spirits is both family-operated and woman-owned. The distillery is part of the historic Jacob Rutsen van Rensselaer House and Mill Complex. Rensselaer owned a distillery circa 1805, and Cooper’s now operates in his former carriage house.
Cooper’s Daughter Spirits uses fruits and grains grown in Hudson Valley to create tasty, seasonal spirits. Using their own handmade barrels, their whiskey and bourbon products are aged to perfection. Weekend events featuring food trucks are held at the distillery, and visitors are served wine, cocktails, local beer and cider from the cocktail garden.
Manhattan is the most highly populated borough of New York, home to famous attractions such as The Metropolitan Museum, Central Park and Empire State Building. It also houses many wineries and distilleries with scenic views that bring visitors back time and again. Some of these businesses include Gotham Winery, Montesquieu Winery, Great Jones Distilling Co. and Port Morris Distillery.
Distillery Spotlight — Great Jones Distilling Co.
After its public opening in August 2021, Great Jones Distilling Co. is now Manhattan’s first legal whiskey distillery since the Prohibition in the 1920s. Its timeless, nostalgic design instantly brings you back to the Roaring ’20s the moment you step inside. The 28,000-square-foot venue features a tasting room, multiple dining venues and a fully-functioning distillery.
Great Jones’ hearty bourbon and rye products feature hints of vanilla, dried fruit, rye pepper, toasted corn, oak and marzipan for a unique blend of flavors. Visitors can book a distillery tour that offers several activities — an overview of the whiskey-making process, culinary cocktail pairing and hands-on mixology courses.
Though no battles were fought in Mahopac during the American Revolution, this region played a pivotal role in this war by supplying grain and food to soldiers. It also features the peaceful and scenic Lake Mahopac, Mahopac Falls and Lake Secor, which provide various hiking, fishing, camping and picnic areas. It houses several wineries and distilleries, such as Sterling Cellars, KAS Spirits and Current Spirits.
Distillery Spotlight — KAS Spirits
KAS Spirits offers both delicious handmade spirits and a fascinating backstory. The owners, Kas and Marushka, decided to share a traditional family recipe that used Krupnikas, a Polish and Lithuanian alcoholic beverage that blends sweet honey and warm spices. With the opening of KAS Spirits in 2013, this tasty recipe was finally available for everyone to enjoy.
The distillery’s Krupnikas-based spirits feature a delightful concoction of vanilla, saffron, clove and cinnamon flavors. Visitors can stop by KAS Spirits to engage in conversation with the owners and try some delicious samples.
With excellent schools, affordable housing, effective transportation systems and various activities to enjoy, it’s no wonder Orange County is a popular attraction in New York’s metropolitan area. The region also features many wineries and distilleries, including Clearview Vineyard, Spirits Lab and Orange County Distillery.
Distillery Spotlight — Spirits Lab
Spirits Lab is the newest craft distillery in Hudson Valley — it’s just a short distance away from General Washington’s headquarters and the Hudson River. The distillery has collaborated with craftsmen from around the globe to bring high-quality spirits to customers.
The company’s bourbon, rye, vodka and gin products are crafted from locally grown botanicals and grains to produce premium cocktails. Many of its liquor products are named after historic sites in New York to express its appreciation for the area’s rich history.
Featuring multiple amusement parks, restaurants, hotels and museums, Queensbury is a hot spot for tourism. Here, you can also visit a range of scenic wineries and distilleries, including Adirondack Winery and Springbrook Hollow Farm Distillery.
Distillery Spotlight — Springbrook Hollow Farm
The beautiful Springbrook Hollow Farm is located in the peaceful Adirondack Mountains. Its innovative distilling process produces natural, high-quality spirits for all to enjoy. Its locally grown and harvested fruits and grains are used to create handcrafted gin, moonshine, vodka, bourbon, orangecello and limoncello.
Additionally, the distillery offers free tastings and tours daily. The delicious liquor products paired with a stunning view of the mountains make for an unforgettable experience for visitors.
Your Distillery Tour Begins Now!
After perusing this extensive list of New York’s finest distilleries, we hope you’re inspired to plan your next tour or visit to a whiskey distillery in New York. If you live in or near the area or are looking to plan a trip here in the future, consider stopping by one of these distilleries to get a glimpse of the process or sample some delicious liquor.
In the meantime, fulfill the rest of your liquor purchasing needs with products from Marketview Liquor. We carry a wide selection of spirits and liquors to satisfy any preferred taste. Our whiskeys, rums, vodkas, gins and other spirits are available in multiple brands — feel free to browse through our list to find some of your favorites.
When you buy from Marketview Liquor, you can also skip the hassle of in-store shopping. For an easier purchasing experience, order your spirits online to have them delivered right to your door. Check out our shipping policy page to see if we ship to you. Satisfy your alcoholic cravings by purchasing one of our spirits today!