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September 22, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Romania’s largest spirits producer plans Hudson Valley distillery

Romania’s largest spirits producer is planning to build its first U.S. distillery in Putnam County, promising more than 100 new jobs over the next five years and at least $40 million in investment.

The company, Alexandrion Group, announced Aug. 13 that it had received site plan approval for its planned $40 million distillery at 39 Seminary Hill Road in Carmel. The company estimates it will eventually invest $100 million total into the project, which will include an 118,400-square-foot distillery, visitors center and tasting rooms.

The distillery will produce premium spirits tailored to U.S. tastes, such as whiskey, bourbon, gin, brandy and vodka, and said it will also export its new products to the 50 countries Alexandrion Group currently supplies.

Nawaf Salameh

“We are happy to announce we have achieved another milestone in our plans for the U.S. that brings us closer to our goal of opening our new distillery,” said Nawaf Salameh, chairman of Alexandrion Group, in a statement. “The site plan approval is the first step and with the support of the U.S. authorities we expect to finalize this project by 2020.”

The approval comes a couple months after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Alexandrion Group would be coming to the Hudson Valley.

The company started working in 2017 with Empire State Development, New York’s economic development agency, to find a location for the project. Empire State Development offered the company up to $2.7 million in performance-based tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs Program.

Cuomo said in the announcement that the company’s investment is “proof-positive that New York is a premier destination for food and drink enthusiasts, and we look forward to Alexandrion Group’s continued success in the Empire State.”

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, meanwhile, said the distillery “will generate new jobs, new investment and new growth for our local economy and add to the momentum we’re seeing across Putnam County.”

The distillery will be built on a property on Seminary Hill Road, just off Route 6 near Lake Gleneida. The property was previously home to Guideposts publications and is currently used as the Paladin Center, a security education and training center. The buildings will be renovated for the distillery.

Alexandrion Group’s brands include Alexandrion Five Star, Seven Star and Alexandrion 100 Romanian Brandy, Alexander Vodka, Alexander Flavored Vodka and Alexander Gin.

Alexandrion Group said it next requires construction permits and an adjustment to the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Law to move the project forward. The company said in its press release that the state’s “tied house” rule, which governs the separation between alcohol manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, is inconsistent with federal legislation.

“We strongly believe the New York authorities will stand by us and assist in resolving this issue,” Salameh said. “We want to be allowed to continue our activities outside the U.S. and not change anything we would like to do within the U.S. We will need a change in or an exemption from the regulation in order for this project to move forward.”

Alexandrion Group is the second major international alcohol producer drawn to the Hudson Valley this year. In April, Japanese sake maker Asahi Shuzo Co. Ltd. announced it would invest $28 million in a 52,500-square-foot brewery in Hyde Park, the company’s first location outside Japan.

The brewery expects to produce about 332,000 gallons of sake a year at the brewery, which will be built at the former site of a Stop & Shop on the corner of St. Andrews Road and Route 9. Empire State Development offered Asahi Shuzo up to $588,235 in performance-based tax credits through the Excelsior Jobs Program. The brewery is expected to create 32 new jobs.

Smaller scale distilling has been growing in the Hudson Valley and New York state as well. The state is home to 160 craft distilleries, more than 100 of which have opened since 2012. The mid-Hudson Valley region — which includes Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster and Sullivan counties — is home to 27 craft distilleries, the most of any region in the state. New York overall has the second most craft distilleries among all states.