Friday, June 1, 2012

EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Albany Distilling Company

Back in December, we excitedly announced the addition of the Albany Distilling Company to our beloved Quackenbush Square. Since then, we’ve noticed a lot of activity in the area and we eagerly anticipate opening day, which is just a short time away. We checked in with the owners, Matt and John, to get a sneak peak.

The first thing you’ll notice upon approaching the building is the great new sign out front. This is an important addition because without the sign, one would probably think s/he was walking up to a garage. (A few months ago, that statement would be entirely true.) In the past, the building was used to store coal for the old pumping station. We like the industrial look and we’re glad Matt and John kept it consistent throughout the new place.

Enter the building and you’ll immediately be drawn to the beautiful Kothe still and fermentation tank, which arrived in Albany from Germany in January. Installation took place on March 27 and the owners were hoping to start production within two weeks, after completing some test runs to make sure the equipment runs properly.

I got the full tour of the place, which consisted of standing in one spot and turning in a circle. It doesn’t sound like much, but these guys know their stuff and provide you all the details in an interesting and engaging manner. The tour was a blast, and after completing my 360 degree rotation over the course of 30-40 minutes, I felt much more knowledgeable about the distilling process and the plans for the space.

So what’s coming down the pike? Their first product will be a new make (un-aged) whiskey. Matt and John are committed to sourcing their raw materials from local vendors and keeping true to the rum recipes of past Albanians, though they won’t be sourcing their water from the Hudson! They will even continue this tradition in the naming of their products.

Want to learn more about the distilleries of Albany’s past? Check out the New York State Museum where you can see some old rum vats that were dug out of the ground right here at Quackenbush Square!

Uncovered rum vats at Quackenbush Square, Albany.
Photo courtesy of
Also, as part of Heritage Week, the Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center will be hosting a lecture entitled Buried Beneath: Albany’s Industrial Past in Quackenbush Square. Matthew Kirk of Hartgen Archeological Associates, Inc will present an overview of archeological excavations that have been conducted near Quackenbush Square in Albany. Although now considered an integral component of downtown Albany, the site was formerly part of the city's industrial periphery situated outside of the corporation limits. The talk will focus on the commercial development of North Albany during the 17th and 18th centuries - from an early brickyard, to a rum distillery, and later, to a city water pumping station - and the Quackenbush family's connection to the process. The event is free and you can get more information here.

The Albany Distilling Company will age some of the whiskey for six months and will be ready consumption just in time for the holidays! They also hope to begin production of other fine spirits, such as rum and vodka by fall, and gin sometime in 2013.

You can keep updated on all the progress by visiting their Facebook page:, or visiting their website at

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