GLENVILLE — The former Riverside Maple Farms will hold a clearance sale this weekend and next, as the new owner moves out sugar and syrup to make way for whiskey and whiskey barrels.
Entrepreneur Tony Hynes is converting the maple syrup facility to a craft distillery and cooperage. The operation will be marketed as a destination for people to see small-scale production of spirits, see production of the oak barrels in which they are aged, and taste the final product.
“The uniqueness of the project is that there’s no place in the United States that makes both craft spirits and craft barrels,” Hynes said.
“My interest in craft spirits is I actually own a company that makes whiskey barrels.”
The Glenville project will bring together Hynes’ barrel-making company, Adirondack Barrel Cooperage, now in Remsen, with the Murray’s Fools Distilling Co., now in Altona.
Remsen, north of Utica, is a 90 minute drive for Hynes, who lives in Glenville. Altona, west of Plattsburgh, is a 3-hour drive for Randall and Sarah Beach, co-owners of Murray’s Fools, who live in Schenectady.
Hynes also plans an event venue on-site and wants to build a rickhouse — a warehouse in which barrels of spirits are aged. Many distilleries don’t have such a space; he plans to rent it to them, and market his barrels to them as well.
Hynes’ day job is CEO of Precision Valve & Automation, the Halfmoon manufacturing firm he founded 30 years ago. But PVA is far from his only job, and he’s had numerous other ventures over the years.
“If I see opportunity and see something interesting I usually jump right in,” he said.
These sidelines have included Create Orthotics & Prosthetics; three machine and sheet metal shops to support PVA; and the Fast Break Fund, a nonprofit that supports athletic opportunities for special needs and underprivileged youth.
A proud moment came in 2020, when PVA became the first firm that wasn’t a medical device manufacturer to obtain FDA approval for a medical device: A ventilator for COVID patients.
Hynes also maintains a portfolio of real estate investments, the longtime attorney for which is Randall Beach, the great-great-grandson of W.H.H. Murray, namesake of the distillery.
(Murray’s writings in the late 1800s spurred an influx of urbanites to the Adirondack wilderness, where locals branded them “Murray’s Fools.”)
Adirondack Barrel Cooperage has been seeing 30% annual growth in the last few years, and is on track to produce about 3,600 barrels this year. Hynes expects it will be operational in Glenville in early 2023 with 20 to 25 employees.
The distillery will be on-site sooner, with a workforce of four to eight.
The first step is clearing out the maple syrup production equipment and the remaining inventory. The 7152 Amsterdam Road location will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 26-28 and Dec. 3-5. After as much inventory as possible is sold, the syrup-making and bottling equipment will be sold off.
Riverside Maple opened in late 2017 but closed abruptly without explanation in early 2020. Hynes said it was a very well-designed facility and business plan, which was part of the reason he was interested in it.
“They did a fantastic job from what I’ve seen,” he said.
“Their intention was to do something that would draw people to West Glenville. My intention is to do the same thing but come at it from a different angle.”
Hynes plans to draw people with an all-purpose venue for meetings, concerts, wedding receptions and other events. There also will be demonstrations of the process of making whiskey, and of making the barrels that hold it, which is more important than some people realize.
The wood chosen for the barrel staves, the time allowed for bitter tannins to leach out of the wood, the purity of the water used to bend the staves, the degree of charring applied to the barrel — all these leave an indelible imprint on the spirits within the barrel.
“The barrel is 70% to 80% of what makes whiskey whiskey,” Hynes said.
The foot path linking Riverside Maple with Wolf Hollow Brewing will get continued use under the new ownership.
“Instead of a beer-maple trail it’s going to be a beer-whiskey trail,” Hynes said.