Eighty years after its notorious use during Prohibition the original New York distillery of Dutch’s Spirits is being opened under more favorable conditions. Dutch’s Spirits is scheduled to open fall at Harvest Homestead Farm in Pine Plains of northern Hudson Valley. Tours of bunkers will be conducted with a newly created museum of the historic facility.
Extensive renovation and excavation of the bunkers and tunnels have prepared the facility to serve as a barrel aging room and museum for tours. Since the death of Dutch Schultz in 1935 there has been rumors of a buried treasure in the Catskill Mountains. Their existence and possible location raise interesting possibilities.
It has historical significance as home of the 1930’s bootlegging business of mobster Dutch Schultz. The site was a 400-acre working farm disguised as a turkey farm with a six-car garage. Below the surface it had an extensive network of interconnecting tunnels and bunkers.
Gangster Dutch Schultz used bunkers at the farm to manufacture moonshine, due to its suitable environmental conditions. The bunkers maintain a constant temperature in the mid-50, making them just right for storing spirits even today.
Federal agents raided the farm on October 17, 1932. The raid discovered two 2,000-gallon stills, two high-pressure boilers, over 15,000 gallons of mash, 10,000 pounds of sugar and vehicles. Agents destroyed the illegal equipment and liquor. Since a rotating workforce of immigrants operated the site only 2 arrests were made. It’s ironic that Prohibition was repealed the year after the raid was conducted.
Recent easing of laws has encouraged growth of small distilleries throughout the Hudson Valley. Craft distillers are require a farm license for only $128 a year, allowing production up to 35,000 gallons a year. This is in stark contrast to a distiller’s license without production limits of $12,000.
The town of Pine Plains on route 199, seventeen miles east of Rhinebeck has a current population of 2,473. Moravian missionaries first settled Pine Plains in 1740. A few miles south of the town Stissing Mountain prominently overlooks the area, at 1,403’ altitude. Three lakes west of the community are Thompson Lake, Twin Island Lake and Stissing Mountain.
Rhinebeck is a town of 2,657, settled in 1686 by a group of Dutch settlers. 2,200 acres of land was bought from local Iroquois Indians.
Pine Plains is a 4 1/2 hour drive of 280 miles from Rochester NY.
Drive I-90 toward Albany driving south on US 87. Before Kingston drive east route 199 over the Hudson River by the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge. Continue on route 199 over the Taconic State Parkway to Pine Plains.
Reading about Prohibition may have created curiosity about this historical event. A tour of this facility will provide an experience to actually see a part of Prohibition history.