by Timothy W. Scee II
Special to Newzjunky.com
Published May 30, 2012 ( LINK )
WATERTOWN, N.Y. — Plans for a farm distillery in the town of Clayton moved forward Tuesday as the Jefferson County Planning Board learned more about the business’ unique recycling methods for the alcohol’s byproducts and its potential boost for local tourism.
Michael L. Aubertine, an engineer with Aubertine and Courier Architects, Watertown, brought to life the workings of the inside of his proposed 2,240-square-foot distillery in which he and two business partners plan to produce vodka, gin, whiskey, bourbon, wine, brandy and specialty liquors from locally grown corn, wheat oats and rye.
The first 2 1/2 percent of the alcohol made in a batch of liquor, described by Mr. Aubertine as too hazardous for consumption, will be used to make a variety of goods.
“We’re taking that and mixing that with aloe gel and essential oils and making antibacterial hand gels,” he said. Other products such as hand soap, windshield washer fluid and antibacterial surface cleaners may also be produced.
“It’s about one-third retail and two-thirds manufacturing,” he said, adding that the hand gel will also be packaged on the premises.
Inside the building, customers will first enter the retail portion where liquor and its byproducts are sold along with shirts, hats and other Clayton Distillery-branded products.
“We’re going to also have a tour the whole process,” Mr. Aubertine said. “They’re going to be able to walk through and look right in the fermenters and see the stuff bubbling and see the whole process.”
The distillery co-owner said customers will also be able to taste some of the fruit of the distillery’s labor.
Mr. Aubertine said during each run of making whiskey, about 25 gallons of the 180-proof liquor is produced. A portion of the product will be poured into oak barrels and stored for about 2 1/2 years to make bourbon.
“We’re going to have (liquor) that’s pure corn, one that’s an oat vodka, wheat and rye,” Mr. Auebrtine said. “We’re also going to distill probably some wine products and blend them with corn whiskey and have some combination products.”
Since the business is described as a “farm distillery,” there are no parking requirements. Thirteen spaces are included with plans, however, with room for an additional 12 or even more.
It was only recently when Mr. Aubertine was at his child’s hockey game chatting with another dad who seemed to always bring up the topic of distilling.
“I’ve been researching it for about a year and a half and one of my friends from hockey, who’s a coach on my kid’s hockey team, took a class two years ago and then he just kept telling me about it when we were at games,” Mr. Aubertine said. “Then I started looking into it.”
Mr. Aubertine, Michael L. Ingerson and Roger R. Howard, of Howard Orthotics and Prosthetics in Watertown, partnered up for the business project.
In March, Mr. Aubertine enrolled in a two-day class at 45th Parallel Vodka, New Richmond, Wis., where he and fellow classmates were more thoroughly educated about the distilling process.
Curious to find what might attract customers, Mr. Aubertine asked neighbors and friends for product ideas.
“I met with local retailers and they were giving me some hits,” he said. “I was asking them what we should make, what’s going to sell, and they said with the Canadians a maple whiskey and a cherry whiskey would sell.”
The maple whiskey, Mr. Aubertine said, will be made using sap which will boil in with the ingredients.
“It will take about four days to ferment,” he said of the whiskey making process. “You have to distill it three times so it would take a minimum of probably three days. Within a week you could make a couple hundred gallons.”
Mr. Aubertine said about 10,000 units of liquor are expected to be produced in its first year, beginning after Jan 1, 2013.
The site plans were passed for review to the town of Clayton Planning Board.