I had a chance to interview Derek Grout from Harvest Spirits.  They are Hudson Valley producers of Core Vodka, Black Raspberry Core (Vodka) Cornelius Applejack, Rare Pear Brandy, Pear Brandy, Apple Brandy, Grappa & Pear Applejack.

I must tell you, I am a vodka drinker when I don’t have a glass of wine in hand.  The Core Vodka is very good, but boy, the Black Raspberry is killer.  A little ice, shake it, pour it, drink it…smooth!

HVWG: What made you decide to diversify your apple crop to distilled spirits?
DG: We got into distilling because we usually have a surplus of apples (though not this year). Also, the NY liquor laws changed in 2007 to allow farm distilleries. Although Harvest Spirits was to first licensed farm distillery in the state, there are now around 30 farm distilleries in NY. 

HVWG: Can you explain the distilling process of turning apples into vodka?
DG: The distilling process is simply separating alcohol from water based on their different boiling points. We boil hard cider and collet the vapor in a condenser. We distill all of our products at least twice, in the case of vodka 3 times, and our Black Raspberry vodka is distilled four times 
HVWG: What type of apples is used in vodka distilling?
DG: We use all types of apples in our distillery. I think of the distillery as being the recycling station of the farm, using the sugar from apples that wouldn’t necessarily be used for fresh eating.  
HVWG: How long does the distilling process take before the vodka is available for public consumption?
DG: It takes about 3 weeks to make a batch of vodka. We ferment up to 6,000 gallons of cider per month. 
HVWG: What is the alcohol content of the vodka?
DG: The alcohol concentration increases each time you distill it, but tops out at 95% alcohol on our equipment. It is diluted to 40% alcohol by adding fresh, filtered water.
HVWG: How many apples does it take to make a bottle of vodka
DGIt takes about 4 gallons of cider (54 lbs. of apples) to make a single 750 ml bottle of Core Vodka 
HVWG: What is your favorite cocktail made with Core Vodka and the recipe.
DGCore Vodka makes great cocktails. Although I’m no mixologist, I think a good cocktail would be 2 parts lime, 1 part maple syrup, 3 parts Core Vodka and 4 parts apple cider. Get crazy by adding fresh basil or sage

HVWG: Anything additional about Core Vodka and Harvest Spirits
DG: Harvest Spirits is one of the few places in the country where the ingredients for vodka production are grown on site, truly tree to bottle.