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Gristmill Distillers

What’s better than sipping whiskey in the great outdoors? If you ask Keith Van Sise, founder of Gristmill Distillers (and an avid rock climber), not a thing.

After a long day of climbing followed by an alcohol-fueled talk with friends, Keith decided – maybe it was the mountain air, maybe the whiskey – to start a distillery in Keene, a small town in New York’s Adirondack Park.* Keith’s family has called the Adirondack Mountains home for generation, and from day one he wanted to create local jobs using local products. 

In 2013, Gristmill Distillers opened their doors and started making local whiskey and brandy. How local? Their water source flows from a spring right outside their front door; the corn in their bourbon and moonshine is grown by Adirondack Organic Grains in nearby Essex; their brandy apples are grown, picked and pressed by an orchard down the road; and their oak casks are crated a few towns over by U.S. Barrel, one of the oldest cooperages in the Northeast. Talk about homegrown! 

We especially love their Black Fly Bourbon, inspired by – you guessed it – the black flies that are notorious around the Adirondacks. Any local or adventurer will tell you the bite from these devils packs a wallop. Keith knows that whether you’re climbing the High Peaks, hiking the Appalachian Trail or running the rapids of rush hour, Black Fly bourbon takes the sting out of a long day. 

*Adirondack Park, if you haven’t heard of it (we hadn’t) is made up of six million acres of protected land deemed “forever wild” by the New York State Constitution in 1894.

Pretty wild, right?