It was July 14th, and the summer weather continued its elevated temperatures and high humidity. This type of pattern seemed relentless this summer but at least it promised to be a dry day which seemed to be in short supply lately. The destination was the Coppersea Distillery in New Paltz, New York. Its dedication to old world methods intrigued me so off we went where some unknown surprises awaited us.
Like many of our rides to New York State, we started off on route 209 north which parallels the Delaware River through the scenic Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area. Our first town we reached was the historic town of Milford, PA, a town we’ve visited and spoke about before in previous videos. We then made our way through the town of Matamoras, PA where we crossed the Mid-Delaware Bridge into the town of Port Jervis, NY. This continuous steel truss bridge was constructed in the 1939 and has a bit of history of previous versions of itself that date back to the mid-19th century.
I first became familiar with Port Jervis back in the 1980’s when I had moved across the way in Montague, NJ. It appeared at that time to be an ailing town as the restructuring of railroads resulted in a decline in the city’s business and economy. Today, however, thousands of tourists and travelers pass through the area on their way to recreational activities in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and in 2008 it was names one of the “Ten Coolest Small Towns” by Budget Travel magazine.
The next part of the trip was a long stretch along the serene route 209 through towns such as Cuddebackville, Westbrookville, Wurtsboro, and many others. It’s an area where one can relax as much as a motorcyclist can while maintaining some alertness and we did so until we were interrupted by an unfortunate accident scene. It’s up close exposure to wreckage like this that reminds a motorcyclist of what they’re potentially up against at any given time. Bad timing, too much drink or speed from others are just a few of the reasons that can ruin your day in a split second.
With a refreshed sense of safety on our minds, we followed 209 up near Kerhonkson were we made a right onto route 44 which winds through the Minnewaska State Park Preserve. This 22,275-acre preserve quickly began to strut its stuff as we climbed to points with beautiful views of the Catskill Mountains. We had never been through this area and I did no research so every mile was an unfolding of new visual treats. We even encountered a rare hairpin turn for this area of the country during our descent which required a little extra attention in maneuvering. It seems some have not been so lucky in the past, even while in a car. From this point it was time to head east on route 299 towards New Paltz to turn up Springtown Rd just before town and stop at the Coppersea distillery.
I found the Coppersea Distilling alluring with its allegiance to traditional styles of distilling. The late co-founder, Angus MacDonald, even looked as if he had stepped out of the past. He was fascinated with old world methods and spent a great deal of time researching and learning the techniques of years gone by. Its name is a nod to the copper stills of the past that occupied space in almost every farm in early America. Everything about this place is a trip back in time with its chicken coop, barns and the old shack of a store where you can sit on the old furniture and enjoy their samples of spirits. Probably the most intriguing product is their Big Angus Green Malt Whisky. Being a rare distillery that malts its grain in –house, it’s capable of using fresh green malt immediately which preserves the earthy, herbaceous qualities that are lost in the normally kilned malt. This whisky, honoring the memory of its founding Master Distiller, is the most unique whisky I’ve ever tasted. Coppersea has been looking to set itself apart from others and I have found them to be highly successful in this endeavor to do so. For the whisky connoisseur, this is a place you don’t want to miss.
Our return trip was simply to be a backtrack of our morning route which began with a second look at the Minnewaska State Park. A tower like structure in the distance absorbed our attention as we began the ascent, it was something I knew I would have to investigate further when we got back home. My research revealed this object to be the Skytop Tower at Mohonk which was built in 1921 in memory of Albert and Alfred Smiley, the founders of the even more fantastic Mohonk Mountain House. This is a place worthy of its own separate trip that we hope to take before this riding season comes to an end. Its scenery and history appear to easily fulfill a full day of riding and exploring and we hope to present our findings here on our channel someday soon.
We stopped before exiting the park for a view of the Catskill Mountains. The haze on this hot and humid day obstructed the horizon somewhat, perhaps our return trip will occur during a clearer afternoon. It was a pleasant and uneventful ride home and a ride that gave reason for yet another.