Erenzo acquired the necessary permits to distill in 2005, but felt hampered by the restrictions imposed by existing laws, which did not include permission to have a shop or conduct samplings or tours on premises. In an attempt to amend the license so that it would include the right to consumer sales, Erenzo prompted the Farm Distillery Act of 2007, which effectively opened the floodgates for craft distillers in the region.
Now just over a decade later, there are 738 farm-licensed manufacturers in New York, 150 of these distilleries (the second highest concentration of any state). With the the craft beverage industry in safe hands, in 2017, the man who paved the way for all the rest sold Tuthilltown to William Grant & Sons, a family-owned Scotch maker that owns over 170 distilleries (a company that is large enough to own the domain Scotchwhisky.com)
Over the past year and change, the new owners have been making gradual improvements to the facilities and grounds, which feel very much like a school campus with clusters of buildings, sprawling lawns, and a picturesque brook.
Char 1788One of the biggest changes to the Tuthilltown property is the newly branded restaurant, Char 1788, which opened this past spring and is billed as "a farm-to-table restaurant featuring American cuisine and a focus on locally-sourced products and ingredients." On a balmy Thursday evening, four of us trooped out to Gardiner to taste the food.
- Marie Doyon
You can dine downstairs in the tasting room, or on a beautiful summer evening sup outside on the porch or the fresh-air patio, both overlooking the water. (Be warned: the creek runs under the original mill building and cascades down with a roar, so if you sit on the porch it will be quite loud—but beautiful.) The upstairs is reserved for overflow restaurant seating and special events.
- Marie Doyon
- The creekside patio.
Creekside DiningTo kick the meal off we tried the variety of appetizers. The rabbit confit ($13) stood out—a creamy housemade delicacy that comes with a freshly foraged garlic mustard greens, cherry jam, and red walnuts. Another highlight was the 1788 Board ($17), an impeccably curated selection of local charcuterie, country paté, cheeses, fruit, and housemade pickles and preserves. With gooseberries, Japanese table grapes, and ambrosial honeycomb to sweeten the deal, this was a refreshing change from your run-of-the-mill (ha!) charcuterie board.
While we dined, dusk settled in and people piled out of their cars and onto the lawn for the outdoor screening of The Goonies. Movie nights are just one of the many community-facing events Tuthilltown is organized under new management.
- Brian K. Mahoney
- 1788 Board
The produce for Char 1788 is all sourced locally, as is much of the meat, cheese, and charcuterie. While the restaurant is still working out some of the kinks that always accompany a change in ownership, the ambiance is warm, the waitstaff friendly, and the scenery unbeatable. The price point will likely make this a spot for special occasion dining only, but if you've never been to the property it's worth dropping by for a distillery tour and whiskey tasting, or else just cocktail on the porch.
- Marie Doyon
- The view from the patio.