Beverage Startups

New York Honey Rye Whiskey by Catskill Provisions

New York Honey Rye Whiskey by Catskill ProvisionsCan you imagine life without the sweet taste of honey? When talking about the beverage industry, I guess that the same can  be said about whiskey. Although beverage development teams are always looking for interesting combinations, sometimes the mix of two simple ingredients can become a masterpiece. Today, I have the pleasure of talking to Claire Marin, the owner of New York Honey Rye Whiskey by Catskill Provisions.

Your company has been active since 2010. How did you come up with the idea behind Catskill Provisions?    

Since I started beekeeping 13 years ago I always had a fantasy of making beverages and foods with honey. So I had been experimenting for years prior to launching Catskill Provision. The farm distillery movement was starting in NY State in 2009 and it was the perfect storm! I was ready for a new start and got inspired by this movement and what it meant for the local depressed economy upstate. Farmers were now able to ferment and distill spirits in NY State.

Rye grows beautifuly in NY and rye is a spicy complex spirit. Perfect for a honey infusion! It took me over a year to get the right combination and to find a distiller I wanted to work with. While the rye was in the works I also developed a line of honeys, and chocolate truffles also infused with honey!

Based on the different products listed on your website, it seems that your business has grown rapidly since the beginning. What did you except when you first started?

I’ve learned a lot to say the least! I didn’t realize how key good distribution is. For the first three years I did most of it myself. Then I realized I couldn’t grow without some great people around me. My employees and distributors now have made my life a lot easier and helped me grow the company. For example I just launched a local apple cider vinegar we age for 8 months in steel, infused with a fab spice blend and honey after 4 years on planning! Things take time and the right support system. Without the right people and distributors I could not have done it.

Together, honey and whiskey seem to make a pretty sweet, simple combination. But why honey whiskey? Was it difficult to create the perfect taste?

My beekeeping background is at the center for my decision to use honey with the whiskey. I believe that most flavors are overdone. The added flavor overpowers the base ingredient too much in my opinion. With rye I have something with robust flavor that can handle some balance form honey… It’s not just any honey, its our most complex varietal too! It took me way past the year mark to get it right. I would mix bourbons with honey, then each varietal of honey we harvest was different so it was back to the drawing board many times. Finally landing with the combination we have now!

The original recipe was tweaked recently. This new improved formula has earned us a 94 rating (Ultimate Spirits Challenge), a chairman’s trophy (Ultimate Spirits Challenge) and a gold medal (SIPs awards!) All in the last three months. I don’t think we’re going to change it for a while!

I love the handy, modern packaging and website of your company. Was it difficult to create an attractive product?

I don’t thin so. I just looked for inspiration in nature and colors I like then did tons of market research. Packaging is very important I think. Needs lots of planning and a lot of “updates” went into each label and package. As a matter of fact a re-fresh will be unveiled in just a few weeks! I’m very pumped about it because its our most dramatic re-fresh to date. We’ve been working on it for months. Keep an eye out!

Right now, your products are available only in the United States. Are you planning to sell it abroad?    

Yes, right now it is just in the US. I’ve wanted to explore distribution inn Europe and Japan. At tasting I’ve seen interest from England, France,  and Germany. I hear Japan has great affinity for honey and we know how whiskey are loved there!

Where do you see your brand 5 years from now? 

We’ll be distributed all over the US and Europe. Besides the whiskey we’ll have at least one more infused spirit… By mid 2018 we’ll be introducing a limited release whiskey and I wouldn’t be surprised if another intro will be made in 2018!

I ma working on identifying the best organization to align with in helping the bees. We all need to be more aware and educated about all we can do in our every day lives to help bees and all pollinators actually. Bees are such amazing creatures.

For more information visit Catskill Provisions website.

About Ugne Butkute

Ugnė Butkutė is a project manager at DrinkPreneur. Ugnė is responsible for attracting contributors, maintaining quality of content and keeping readers satisfied with DrinkPreneur

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