Tuthilltown, operating out of the Hudson Valley, is NY’s first distillery since the days of Prohibition. This is a great story in itself as it signals a return to local craftsmanship.
But it’s the Tuthilltown design that first caught my eye. Bottle choice, label design, wax seal — it’s everything right about whiskey. Michael Williams of Selectism, A Continuous Lean and Paul+Williams hit it on the head in a post about the resurgence of rye. His comments, stemming from a dissatisfaction with Jim Beam’s marketing concept for (rī)1 (their foray into the burgeoning rye market) put my feelings into words:
“To be completely honest, I am underwhelmed with the approach, the name and the branding. In my opinion, the trend in the cocktail / spirits world right now is based on old-timey mixology and decor. Think Mad Mens Don Draper and Roger Sterling downing cocktails all day and night. Not a chemistry set and the word ‘ultra-premium.'”
All images from Tuthilltown’s site
How did Tuthilltown get it so right? In a way, they didn’t have a choice. Ralph Erenzo, one of two partners in Tuthilltown, explains:
“All our design is done in-house. I designed the current apothecary bottle and we had it produced in cooperation with O.BERK by a firm in Germany. The overall package design incorporated the “look” I had in mind from the start and also a variety of practical necessities of starting a brand with lack of sufficient funds for design.
Our goal was to give an apothecary impression, with a period aesthetic — modern but reminiscent of early 20th century typestyle. Both my partner Brian Lee and I wanted it to be simple and classic, straightforward.
As for the wax seal:
“The wax seal came about because we could not afford to purchase a machine that would properly seal the package and still maintain the look I was after. It turned out to be not only in keeping with the design concept, but also remains the cheapest, simplest means of sealing the oddly shaped top of the bottle with the flange and pull cap.”
For New Yorkers and Californians, peruse Tuthilltown’s long list of retailers, bars and restaurants to pick your poison. As for me, I’ve got my eye out for the Manhattan Rye or the Single Malt at Fette Sau.