Taconic Distillery, established in 2013, is a purveyor of fine craft spirits located in the Hudson Valley of New York. The founders of Taconic Distillery, Gerald Valenti and Paul “PJ” Coughlin, are fervent outdoorsmen and Dutchess County residents who imagined marrying their life passions for the great outdoors and whiskey which led to the Taconic Distillery. The Coughlin family purchased part of Laufred Farms in Stanfordville, NY, a former beef farm, and renamed it Rolling Hills Farm in 2010. The farm’s 113 acres of rolling hills became the inspiration for Taconic Distillery’s entrance to Dutchess County’s local agribusiness market. Taconic Distillery's home is the historic Hudson Valley which is ¬filled with National Historic Landmarks and bountiful farms. It is also home to the fi¬rst wine-producing region in the U.S. and a world-class culinary institute. Four hundred years of history and hospitality make the region an ideal location for production of our own native spirit.
Putnam County Wine & Food Festival sat down with the Founder of the Distillery, Paul J. Coughlin III
Paul, tell me a bit about your background and how you became involved with Taconic Distillery?
After a 25-year career in the finance industry, I was ready to try something new. My family and I owned property in Dutchess County and wanted to make use of the land and start a new venture. After considering several options we decided that a farm distillery would make the best use of our resources and talents. We initially operated the business out of our 600 square-foot barn and quickly outgrew that space. We opened our current facility in 2016, which includes production, aging and a tasting room all under one roof.
What was your vision for Taconic Distillery?
At first, my vision for the business was to have a local, high quality bourbon that would be enjoyed throughout the New York region. After receiving such a great reception in the local area, we realized we were on to something bigger. As more of our product came of age, we began to expand into other markets. We now sell our spirits in 13 states and will continue to grow our brand nationally.
What are some of your products?
Our products include bourbon and rye whiskies. Both the bourbon and the rye come in 90 proof and 115 proof (barrel strength) options. We offer several limited release spirits each year, including our highly popular Double Barrel Maple Bourbon, which is released every October.
Do you source the ingredients locally, if so, how important is it?
Our grains are sourced from local farmers and this is very important to our business. The water comes directly from a well on our property. Our whiskies are truly local, New York products. We believe in supporting local farms and employing local labor.
What would you suggest people pair with your products?
Bourbon is delicious in many formats, paired with a variety of foods. We make our cocktails with citrus, maple, berries and various herbs. Bourbon or rye can also be paired with cheese, chocolate and nuts. Barbecue sauces and marinades for grilled meats are enhanced by the flavor of our spirits as well. Of course, we also like to sip them “neat” right out of the bottle!
How do you stand out in the current market?
Taconic Distillery stands out in the market by offering high quality, delicious spirits sourced from local grains.
How important is packaging in consumers’ decision making?
Packaging is very important in getting the consumer to pick up the bottle from the shelf. Our packaging stands out, particularly because our dog, Copper is featured on every label. If you put out a great product and no one takes it from the shelf, you won’t get very far. Of course, it’s what’s inside the bottle that makes them come back again and again to buy more.
What are the biggest challenges?
Like any independent producer of spirits, one of the biggest challenges for us is distribution. The law requires us to have a licensed distributor in any state in which we operate, and the laws of each state vary.
What does the future for your distillery look like?
We will continue to grow our presence in the markets where we operate currently and will expand strategically into states outside the region. Eventually we hope to be a brand that is recognized nationally and known for its New York/Hudson Valley provenance.
Photos courtesy of Taconic Distillery
VENDORS, SPONSORS, VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
Our 8th annual PCWFF will take place August 25-26, 2018, Patterson Fire Department, Patterson, NY. For more information and to download all applications at www.putnamcountywinefest.com.