April 18, 2017 – Seven years after buying the Hudson Whiskey brand from Tuthilltown Spirits founders Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee, William Grant & Sons has taken the widely-expected step to acquire the rest of the company, including its distillery in Gardiner, New York. The deal is the latest acquisition of a craft distiller by a major spirits producer seeking to enter the American craft whiskey market, following recent moves by Constellation Brands (High West and a minority stake in Catoctin Creek), Pernod Ricard (Smooth Ambler), Rémy Cointreau (Westland), and Sazerac (the Popcorn Sutton Distillery). Terms of the sale were not announced.
The family-owned company purchased Tuthilltown’s Hudson Whiskey brand in 2010, while signing a long-term supply contract with Tuthilltown to supply whiskey for the brand’s expressions. Under that deal, the Tuthilltown team had access to Grant’s team of chemists and engineers as needed, while still being responsible for overall production and quality control at the distillery. Erenzo and Lee built the distillery in 2003 by converting a granary at the historic Tuthilltown Gristmill, and released their first batch of Hudson Whiskey in 2006 using grain sourced from local farmers. While Tuthilltown’s reputation was built on its whiskies, the distillery also produces gin, vodka, and a range of liqueurs at the Gardiner distillery.
In a news release, William Grant & Sons CEO Simon Hunt called the acquisition a logical addition to the company’s North American operations, which also includes Gibson’s Canadian Whisky and distribution for its Scotch Whisky portfolio (Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, Grant’s, Monkey Shoulder), Tullamore D.E.W Irish Whiskey, and other spirits. According to Hunt, Ralph Erenzo will continue to work with the Grant team. “Ralph will still be very much involved in the business on a day to day basis collaborating and experimenting with our team of distillery experts and Master Blenders,” Hunt was quoted as saying.
WhiskyCast has attempted to contact Ralph Erenzo, who became widely known within the craft distilling community for his work at Tuthilltown. In the Grant news release, he said “William Grant & Sons is a company that holds true family values and is home to a number of spirits brands we respect and admire. It is renowned for its excellence in distilling and we share similar views. We’ve been working with William Grant & Sons for a number of years and look forward to building on that relationship to help Tuthilltown fully achieve its potential.”
This story will be updated with additional information, and please listen to this weekend’s WhiskyCast for complete coverage.