Even though Long Island Spirits began producing vodka when it first opened, it’s now also known for several spirits, including gin, bourbon and, of course, its rye, which garnered popularity after it won the Chairman’s Award the 2018 Ultimate Spirits Competition.
Its spirit’s flavor can be attributed to the East End distillery’s progressive distillation processes, including the use of champagne yeast. But what matters most is the terroir.
“Rye is a very terroir-sensitive grain,” says Richard Stabile, founder and proprietor at LI Spirits, one of a handful of distilleries on Long Island. “It’s deep rooted, and farmers refer to it as a cleansing grain. Ryes have different flavors from all around the country, primarily because they are deep rooted.”
Farmers on Long Island tend to use what’s known as winter rye as a cover crop, which acts as a protectant against soil erosion. Since winter rye is a deep-rooted plant, it absorbs many of the flavor profiles from its surrounding areas, some of which are produced by the Island’s wineries, giving the distillery’s rye a distinct flavor.
“Our ryes tend to be a bit sweeter, where most ryes are very spicy,” he says.
While Rough Rider Bull Three Barrel Moose Rye Whisky can be sipped neat or on the rocks, the distillery encourages customers to use the spirit in their own cocktails at home or try one of the many cocktails listed on the menu at the distillery’s tasting room.
For instance, take the traditional Manhattan cocktail. While LI Spirits does offer it, something new has recently hit the menu — and to make it, one would need the distillery’s branded smoked cocktail kit, which includes several branded components, including a torch and charred 8-inch staves cut from old Rough Rider bourbon barrels.
LI Spirits’ smoked Manhattan cocktail is made with the standard ingredients; however, the key to getting the distinct flavor is smoking the glass ahead of time with the staves.
“You’ll see the smoke enveloping the inside of the glass, and then you put some cubes in there, and then you have your Manhattan, and go right into it — just delicious,” he says.
LI Spirits is located at 2182 Sound Ave. in Baiting Hollow. It can be reached at 631-630-9322 or lispirits.com