"No Sissy Drinks:" Catskill Provisions Marries Honey and Rye Whiskey
Before Catskill Provisions founder Claire Marin started working with bees, she wanted to work like them. "I was very much taken by their work ethic and how it's a one-for-all type of society," she explains. "When I managed sales teams, it was my goal to make us more like a beehive so that we could be more efficient and supportive of each other."
After 15 years in the publishing world, Marin decided to use her 10 years of beekeeping experience to launch Catskill Provisions, an artisanal food company with offerings rooted in honey that range from chocolate truffles to its latest endeavor, New York Honey Whiskey, launched this November. Marin teamed up with Finger Lakes Distilling to create the spirit, which is now in 26 liquor stores in New York state -- including Union Square Wines, where you can find Marin and the product for Saturday tastings through March -- and behind an increasing number of bars in the city; catch it at Barbuto, ABC Kitchen, and Char #4. And add Brooklyn Winery to that list this Wednesday, when Joe Campanale (Epicurean Group), Aaron Polsky (Bottled Bartender), and Adam Schuman (Michael Skurnik Wines) will create signature cocktails with the whiskey for Boozey Bees, an event hosted by Heritage Radio Network. In anticipation of that event, we got in touch with Marin to learn more about the spirit.
What sparked your interest in beekeeping?
I basically went into the hives kept by a friend and totally became enamored with it. It was instant fascination. I looked into the hives with the suit on and all -- it's like scuba diving. It's like a world within a world, and you're just in that moment. I thought about nothing else when I was beekeeping; it's really quite amazing.
How did the collaboration with Finger Lakes Distilling come about?
I by chance met Brian McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling and his distiller Tom McKenzie (no relation). They're really cool guys. They were one of the first farm distilleries in the state. I wanted to do the honey whiskey with them because there are a lot of natural honey notes in their rye, in particular, which I love. I fell in love with the honey whiskey formula, which is a different formula than what they currently bottle as their rye.
What were you considering most when creating the spirit?
I wanted it to be a whiskey drinker's drink. And no sissy drinks -- this is 80 proof. I wanted people to sit down and feel a little something from it. I wanted for the honey to round out the edges of the rye, while also respecting the characteristics of the spirit.