Dutch Schultz was known as the “Beer Baron of the Bronx” during the Prohibition years in the U.S. During that time, he ordered this underground bootlegging operation to be dug on a farm near Pine Plains, NY.
That was 80 years ago, but the ruins of the subterranean bunker remain are soon to be a Prohibition museum and the new home of Dutch’s Spirits, an original NY Distillery. I had the opportunity to get an inside tour of the facility before restoration had begun.
Plans for the museum are being lead by co-founder and president of Dutch’s Spirit, Ariel Schlein. After they procured the farm where the site is located, they contacted the New York Archaeological Society because they new they had something special. The Society agreed and began an archaeological survey that lasted eight months. When it was over, they it was entered into the record as a “Clandestine Bootleg Distillery” and said “The uniqueness of the site should provide added incentive for others in the field to recognize and investigate other possible bootleg-era sites in the Lower Hudson Valley.” Good luck! Most of the distilleries were destroyed by the IRS as they raided them. This one still exists only because it was built underground and would have cost more that it was worth to destroy it at the time of the raid.
Dutch’s Spirit is currently producing a somewhat smoother version of the sugar wash moonshine that was once produced here. I had the opportunity to taste some when I met Ethan Kelley, who runs the distillery with Ariel and a third partner, Alex Adams. They also produce a splendid peach brandy and a line of boutique bitters as well. The three gentelmen believe in source everything they can locally. This is not just lip service to a buzz phrase. At full operation, all the grains that will go into the manufacture of their growing line of products will be grown by them on the surrounding farm. That is about as local and self-sustaining as you can get.
My personal favorite part of the tour that Ariel too me on was a chance to explore the network of escape tunnels that leads from the main rooms to the fields surrounding the bunker. So, of course, I donned a GoPro and hard hat to take a look. WATCH THE VIDEO