PORT CHESTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Port Chester distilleries have seen explosive growth in New York’s production of craft beer and spirits the last eight years.
CBS2’s Lou Young reported that it has become so popular that one Westchester County village wants to turn distilleries into a tourist attraction of sorts.
The flow of high-end craft liquor is slow and steady in the StilltheOne distillery tucked away in an industrial park along the Byram River.
One of the products is called Byram River Rum, along with a whiskey named after the nearby interstate. This gritty part of Port Chester was all that was available when StilltheOne opened for business in 2008.
“They wouldn’t let us in the downtown zone, we needed to be in the industrial zone, so that prevented us from setting up a restaurant-bar,” distiller Erik Teadghe said.
However, business is booming and attitudes are changing. When CBS2 visited five years ago, StilltheOne was the first distillery to open in Westchester County since prohibition. Now there’s lots of competition upstate and down.
The Whiskey Shack liquor store in Larchmont stocks only a fraction of New York product.
It was a dramatic slash in state licensing fees after the Great Recession that gave the small brewers and distillers such a boost that they really benefited from it. Now the town believes it’s time to bring the booze makers out of the industrial zones onto Main Street.
“We have a natural focus on nightlife and entertainment and we want to strategically move the village to an 18-hour downtown,” Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla said.
They’re looking to attract a late-night crowd with more distilleries and microbreweries with tasting rooms to stand next to high-end restaurants, and the local rock palace – The Capitol Theater.
Those familiar with the Port Chester strip seem to like the idea.
“Things like that are good for the town, important for the tax base. It’s going to draw people to the community. I’m all for it,” one person said.
However, one person was concerned about the potential downside.
“As long as we’re safe when we’re done drinking, that’s all,” she said.
The pros and cons will be aired this week in expectation of a major zoning change.
In addition to slashing state license fees for making alcoholic beverages, the state allowed distillers and brewers to market and sell their own products, something that was once forbidden.