"William Grant was looking for an American whiskey, and the authenticity of the brand ... and the press that we had gotten appealed to them," said Lee.
In 2010, William Grant bought the Hudson Whiskey brand, but Erenzo and Lee still make and bottle the whiskey at Tuthilltown Spirits distillery, using locally sourced materials.
"It turned out to be, you know, a really great relationship that helped grow the brand quickly. The brand is still authentic. It is still made here."
"It was the first American whiskey to be picked up by a major important house. So that was a signal to the industry," said Erenzo, adding, "It was a signal to the industry that craft distilling had arrived."
Just a decade after Ralph Erenzo and Brian Lee figured out how to make whiskey, Hudson has become an internationally-known brand sold in 12 countries, including the U.K., and the distillery has become a tourist destination. Now on the same property where Erenzo's neighbors didn't want rowdy climbers visiting, there is a tasting room, a restaurant and plans for a bed-and-breakfast.
Today, Tuthilltown Spirits is one of the largest craft distilleries in the country and employs 60 people. The private company won't disclose sales, but it has had a big impact on the local economy. "It's great," said Erenzo of the success. "I'm enjoying the hell out of it."