A week or so ago the team took a jaunt upstate. Harvest time means a lot out here at Matchbook. The first cool day of diminishing summer starts a rush toward the autumnal turn of October. In the meantime we get grapes and orchard fruits, check in on grains, and see squash and pumpkins show their stripes. We cover a lot of ground over many long days.
Call it work or call it inspiration, the team fancied a respite after good harvest effort. Where better a jaunt than the autumn leaf lined Hudson and crimson cuffed Catskills?
At Matchbook we are lucky. That we work in New York with such great forward thinking farms. That we contribute to an ever growing community of local producers. That we can share in the narrative that links the two. What better way to celebrate that and the thrill of harvest than to visit a few of our collaborators and peers.
Early in the week we arrived at Scribner’s Catskill Lodge. At the foot of Hunter Mountain, we sorted through their garden, impossibly abundant, for the day. Forties and mist in the morning, sun-kissed at three, by happenstance we fell into the archetypal fall day.
From there there the team roamed to Catskill for a talk to some fellow producers. At Matchbook we aim in earnest to see and learn from as many peers as possible. It’s critical to our notion of being an R&D distillery. Malt, berry, and orchard fruit, a busy day.
First stop was Subversive Malting + Brewing to hear from Zane + Max. Subversive floor malts and brews. It's hard to describe how uncommon that is for a facility this small to work so elaborately and traditionally. The DIY nature that would reveal itself as a Catskill theme is obvious when you see their small brew house packed with kilns, tanks, taps, and swag—all burnished with purpose.
Equal in pound-for-pound production is C. Cassis, a production facility working out of a small office off Catskill’s main drag. Small office doesn’t rightly convey the sense of hustle Rachel puts behind this locally sourced NY currant liqueur. Every item received walks up a small stair and carts through a turned hallway. Pallets of glass are unpacked curbside, walked in and repacked. C. is run on person power.
Down the hill we went where Tim and Anna hosted us at Left Bank Ciders. A cidery and tavern, Left Bank burrowed their fermentation setup back into the basement of an age old brick building. There they take advantage year round cool humidity while turning their locally foraged wild apples into natural ciders. Wild local foraged cider we drank after sipping some mead and exchanging simple practicalities of apples and fermenting.
A stay in Hudson, some wine, and team-building. Our final morning took us down the foothills east of the Hudson, through the Berkshires blaring red and taunting lapsed city dwellers, to Holyoke Mass. In raw tonnage Valley Malt has no rival on our production floor. They source local and regional grains of all sorts, malt barley, and provide us much of our NY grain from farms like Thor Oeschner that go into our whiskies, gins, and vodkas. Easily MDC could not produce the spirits we desire without purveyors like Andrea and Christian. On yet another perfect fall day we toured their new facility. In transition from a site in Hadley to one in Holyoke, that Valley Malt is expanding to meet demand inspires. This growth means more commitments to local agriculture, to farmers giving the security of fall sales when they turn their fields in spring.