Never a dull moment – Renee Cimino, Tuthilltown Spirits

When Renee took the tour at Tuthilltown Spirits, she was simply there to check out where the whiskey she’d tried was made. What she found was a lot more than a tasting and a tour! She found a great job that uses her past experience as a chef, bartender and stone mason and lets her indulge not only her passion for learning new things, but to also make whiskey! Talk about hitting the trifecta!

I got a chance to speak with Renee on her five month anniversary of being a distiller at Tuthilltown Spirits. Her enthusiasm and dedication to her new craft are very apparent, after talking to her for just a few minutes. Initially, she’d only applied for a bottling position, but the folks at Tuthilltown recognized something in Renee that led them to offer her a position as a distiller. She accepted and hasn’t looked back.

Renee Cimino, Distiller

Renee Cimino, Distiller

“There’s never a dull moment – that’s one of the things I love about Tuthilltown,” Renee answered when I asked her about the best part of her job. She’s had to learn the distilling process from beginning to end. And thanks to the great team that she works with, learning has been a pleasure. There’s always something to do, from the physical tasks of unloading a truck, to understanding what goes into the Hudson whiskies. She excels at being organized and efficient, or being a “neurotic perfectionist” as she described it. Her job allows her to bring all her talents to a job she loves.

I asked Renee for a tip she’d give to a whiskey newbie. I’ve met people that are hesitant to try something they perceive as too strong, or they don’t think will taste good. Renee suggested taking a tour of your local craft distillery, to see how the process works. You’ll likely get a chance to try the spirits that the distillery makes, with someone guiding you through the process. Great advice!

Tuthilltown Spirits is about 75 miles outside of New York City, in the small town of Gardiner. Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee started Tuthilltown in 2003, by converting one of the mill granaries to a micro-distillery. Less than 3 years later, they produced their first batch of vodka made from scraps they got from the local apple slicing plant. Today, they use grains grown on a farm less than 10 miles from the distillery: talk about true “grain to glass”! When people ask Renee what she does in such a small town, she says with pride, “I make great whiskey, of course!”.

Check out Tuthilltown Spirit’s full line of products here. I’ve had the pleasure of trying most of the Tuthilltown spirits – including their Half Moon Gin – all of them are fantastic! I also have a samples from their Basement Bitters series that are in development, so stay tuned here for a full review and cocktail recipe suggestions. Currently, Bitter Frost is available to purchase online or in their store. And of course, if you’re in the area, make sure to stop in for a tour – say hi to Renee and tell them that LikeYourLiquor sent you!

About Jeanne Runkle

Jeanne Runkle currently lives in San Diego, and is a certified bartender and craft liquor expert. Her specialty is the brown stuff, whether it's bourbon, rye or good old American whiskey. She can sometimes be found stalking the aisles of a liquor store near you, answering your random whiskey questions.


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