Monthly Industry Insights
Hear from industry leaders about their guilty pleasures, the oddest thing in their refrigerator, their inspirations and take on new trends. Learn more about the people behind the foods and dishes you know and love - and others you SHOULD know and love. We've asked all of questions and have the answers for you here.
April 2018 Edition
Claire M. Marin, CEO, Catskill Provisions
Claire will be a featured speaker at the 2018 Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, August 19-21 at the Los Angeles Convention Center
It is interesting to go from publishing (which you were very successful!) to beekeeping. What sparked your interest to bees and inspired this lifestyle change?
I’ve always felt a strong connection to nature, animals, and the environment. So when I first began beekeeping as a hobby, it was love at first sight. Literally! I have never looked back. I truly admire and respect bees on so many levels, and there is so much we can learn from them. I would spend love to spend more of my time beekeeping if I only could.
How did you decide to make the jump from Honey and Syrup to Whiskey? Why Whiskey?
Well I’ve been a fan of whiskey for many years prior to the current craft distilling craze! As a child, I recall my Dad would occasionally have a Chivas on the rocks, and it was something I aspired to do when I grew up. It made him seem confident, interesting and strong to my young eyes and who doesn’t want that for themselves?!
More recently, when the farm distillery movement began in New York in 2009, I started to consider making my own brand of whiskey. I thought that if I could only combine my love of bees and whiskey I’d be ecstatic! It has taken us 4 years to perfect the process and get to where we are today. And what a journey it’s been! Our rye whiskey is aged then infused with my own local honey for balance and complexity and I have to say it’s pretty delicious!
Whiskey has long been attributed as a “man’s drink”. What do you tell people that think whiskey is a “man’s drink”?
Funny I should mention my father! Yes it used to be seen as a man’s drink. But the fastest growing segment of whiskey drinkers today is female. I believe women are more confident than ever and don’t need approval or permission to do anything, really. We have come a very long way in many areas, and while there is still plenty to work on, what we drink and how and when we do it is not one of them. The confident decisive female has arrived and she loves our whiskey!
At one point there were very few women owned distilleries. This is starting to pick up as women are making waves in the industry. Do you see yourself as an innovator?
Yes - the number of women interested in this field is growing and that is wonderful! I was just in Portland OR at the ADI and I was one of the 5 women sponsoring the first Women Distillery Guild Summit. You know that there are almost 700 members?! Very impressive- but you are correct in that there are only a handful of female distillers in the US out of 1700 new craft distilleries. So I am very inspired by the prospect of becoming a distiller myself, woman or not. I have many ideas on how to innovate the process and there are so many possibilities that I’m super excited about the future of distilling!
If you could share one surprising thing about yourself, what would it be?
That I’m really an introvert! I’m happiest just hanging out with my bees.
What is the newest culinary and/or beverage trend you see emerging?
Cleaner eating. People want more control over what they eat and drink. They want more transparency and traceability of ingredients. That is where consumers are demanding right now and I predict that it’ll become even more important to them in the future.
If you could eat/drink anywhere in the world, where would that be?
Spain! Anywhere in Spain works for me. The Spanish sensibility of viewing meals as a social occasion, and the non-judgmental way they approach eating and drinking suits me perfectly.
What is your Catskill Provisions guilty pleasure?
I’d have to say our whiskey truly a guilty pleasure that I savor to the fullest whenever I have it. Over rocks with a twist of orange and I’m a very happy girl!
When you realized that beekeeping wasn’t just a hobby but a passion were there any mentors or role models that influenced you to go for it and follow your desire?
Honestly, the bees are my biggest inspiration. The way they work efficiently and cooperatively towards a common goal is something we all can learn from.
I also saw starting this company as a way to bring attention to the Western Catskills which at that time was barely on the map! That really was my motivation. If Vermont, the Hudson Valley, and the Berkshires could brand themselves, why couldn’t we? And so I went forward.
What can your enthusiasts expect from you next?
Well, we are building our own distillery and tasting room, which is going to be a place where the local community can connect and hopefully have meaningful discussions that will inspire us all. In addition to our NY Honey Rye Whiskey, we will be introducing two new spirits; NY Pollinator Gin and NY Pollinator Vodka, both completely made from local ingredients. We will grow pollinator- friendly botanicals on our own land in Long Eddy NY. , and a portion of the proceeds of these spirits will be given to bee protection efforts. Something we need more of desperately!
You’ll have to come visit sometime. We are scheduled to open the new distillery in July and that is a perfect time to visit the Catskills! From Summer through the middle of October, it’s just gorgeous here.
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