Nestled in the scenic landscapes of upstate New York, Amenia, to be precise, Tenmile Distillery is quietly crafting exquisite spirits that are swiftly gaining recognition. Their portfolio boasts remarkably smooth vodka, award-winning gin, and a brand-new creation, “Little Rest,” a single malt whisky masterfully distilled using 100% New York State-grown barley.
This distillery is a mere one-minute stroll from Tenmile River train station, conveniently connecting to Grand Central in New York City, rendering it a car-free day trip from the bustling metropolis. The distillery is housed within a former farm designed by renowned architect Allan Shope, who is renowned for his passion for creating environmentally sustainable spaces. Shope’s ingenious design includes an eco-home nestled beneath a cliff, with parts of the house buried underground for natural insulation and adorned with strategically placed solar panels.
In 2017, John Dyson, a veteran in the wine and spirits industry, and his son-in-law Joel LeVangia acquired the property. They enlisted the expertise of Scottish master distiller Shane Fraser, making him the only master distiller currently working in the United States. With over 30 years of experience in whisky, Fraser’s impressive resume includes working with renowned names such as Royal Lochnagar, Oban, Glenfarclas, and the Scottish whisky Wolfburn. This unique hiring decision positioned Tenmile Distillery as a distinguished player in the industry.
The distillery premises, a former dairy barn, were outfitted with custom copper stills crafted by Scottish manufacturer Forsyths. The entire distillation process is displayed through expansive glass windows at the entrance, allowing visitors to marvel at the intricate copper stills’ mesmerizing curves. This design is not just about aesthetics; as Fraser explains, the still’s curves intricately control reflux, influencing the condensation process and the spirit’s quality.
Little Rest, the distillery’s recent single malt whisky, is a deliberate labor of love. Made slowly and in smaller batches than most whiskies, it begins with New York State-grown barley sourced from the local vicinity. A prolonged fermentation of almost seven days brings depth and richness to the spirit. The whisky ages for three years in barrels in Tenmile’s Scottish-style cask barns. The distillery’s inaugural release, comprising 4,000 bottles, is available through their whisky list and at the distillery itself.
In keeping with their commitment to local sourcing, almost all the ingredients Tenmile employs are sourced from New York State. For an extra dimension of local terroir, Tenmile plans to grow their own barley on-site and harvest as many botanicals as possible from their land, even incorporating apples from an heirloom orchard planted by the estate’s former owner, Allan Shope.
Complementing their craft spirits is the Westerly Canteen, a charming restaurant serving dinner on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, along with weekend lunches. Chez Panisse-trained chef Molly Levine and organic farming expert Alex Kaindl collaborate to create seasonally inspired dishes that harmonize perfectly with craft cocktails crafted using Tenmile’s own spirits. A visit to Tenmile Distillery offers not just an opportunity to savor fine spirits but also to immerse yourself in the distinctive terroir of upstate New York.