What happens when you get a beehive as a gift? For Claire Marin, magazine publisher turned beekeeper, it meant the start of her company, Catskill Provisions. We had the chance to talk with Claire about all things beekeeping, honey and whiskey.
So, how did you get into the honey business?
I had been beekeeping for 10 years and loved every minute of it. It’s fascinating and so calming to me! And then you get to harvest amazing honey. When I started the company in 2010 with intention of distilling whiskey, I harvested the honey, placed it in a jar and sold it in New York City myself. As this was happening, the Farm Distillery Act in New York in 2007, opened the door for farmers to distill, and sell just about anywhere in the state. The thought was that it would benefit the depressed farming community upstate! And it has made a big difference to farmers everywhere.
Tell us about your whiskey!
This rye is New York State-grown, very spicy and complex. The mash bill consists of 80% rye and 20% malted barley. It’s aged for three years in New American Oak. We test barrels at that point for desired complexity and place the aged rye in a big vat. We then add our own late summer wildflower honey – never too much, just enough to round out the edges of the rye. The result is a perfectly balanced whiskey.
Any fun facts you can share with us about beekeeping?
Fact: you can tell a beehive's mood by listening to its buzz. The bees speak to you! Raw honey is the only food that is completely anti-bacterial! It will never, ever spoil!
What are some of your favorite uses of honey?
It makes a perfect old-fashioned without the sugar. It’s great on the rocks with a twist of lemon (orange is even better), and also mixes super well with citrus and apple cider. The best way to sweeten your cocktails is with honey, because it only takes a few drops to balance out the liquor.
The Oh Beehave! Cocktail:
Combine juice from half of a fresh lemon, one tablespoon of honey simple syrup (melt equal parts honey and hot water to make the syrup) and two ounces of Catskill Provisions New York Honey Rye Whiskey. Shake well and pour over ice. Garnish with a sprig of thyme or a lemon twist. Makes one cocktail.P.S. Check out their pancake mix - it's Mouth-watering!