Long Island Spirits, the Island’s first and only vodka distillery, has been housed in a turn-of-the-century barn on Sound Avenue since 2007.
The growing distillery and tasting room is located in Baiting Hollow, where visitors can treat their taste buds to local liquor as they overlook an 80-acre potato farm.
In the past two years, Long island Spirits has gone on to produce the first local whiskey and aged brandy as well.
Those who have worked with the company say Long Island Spirits’ burgeoning success is all thanks to head honcho Richard Stabile, the News-Review’s 2012 Business Person of the Year.
“Richard got there first, period,” said manager James Silver of Peconic Bay Winery, which teamed up with Long Island Spirits to produce the island’s first brandy, Sono Rinata, just over two years ago. “He took what everyone was thinking and did it. It was a brilliant idea to put a distillery in this area — especially one rife with material to be distilled. And then he did it so unbelievably well; I don’t know anyone who wasn’t completely jealous.”
Mr. Silver, a shepherd of his own business’ success, called Mr. Stabile “a leader, and a pragmatic, thoughtful, inspired contributor” to the North Fork’s business landscape who “took a risk few would dare to and made it work.”
And he isn’t the only one singing Mr. Stabile’s praises.
Brand specialist Alicia Messina, who has worked for the distillery founder and owner for three years, said Long Island Spirits has found success not only because they have cornered the local vodka market, but because of the type of boss Mr. Stabile has been all along.
“He is greatly appreciative of his employees and constantly lets them know this,” Ms. Messina said. “Rich has created such a wonderful and friendly work environment within Long Island Spirits, and this pays off in the success he has had with his business over the years.”
The distillery employee said Mr. Stabile’s kindness is not limited to his employees, and she added that he is “always quick to help out with charitable events and fundraisers and enjoys reaching out to people in need,” including donating products to events to benefit finding cures for cancer or being involved in golf outings to support local veterans.
“Rich has brought something new to Long Island and found much success in it,” Ms. Messina said of Mr. Stabile. “LiV vodka has been in numerous blind taste-testing competitions, scoring extremely high, and has been recognized for its domesticity and being an economically friendly product.”
In March, the distillery released Pine Barrens Whiskey, the Island’s premier local whiskey, made from a commercially finished beer, instead of peated malt.
“I’ve always been a whiskey fan,” Mr. Stabile told the Long Island Wine Press earlier this year. “But we wanted to do something different with ours. Most American whiskeys are bourbon-style, made from corn, and there’s a lot of ryes out there. We wanted to do a scotch-style whiskey, single malt, but rather than develop our own peated malt, we thought it would be unique if we used a commercially finished beer. Nobody else does this, that we know of.”
For the product, Mr. Stabile teamed up with Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company, distilling down 850 gallons of one of their beers, Old Howling Bastard, for its first batch.
“We spent a lot of time experimenting with Blue Point before we got going,” Mr. Stabile said of the process, “but we’re just blown away with what we came up with.”