Old Home Distillers: Hard spirits are a family affair in Madison County

(Syracuse.com)

LEBANON, NY — Adam Carvell pursued a law degree before deciding it would be more fun to run a bar in Tucson, Ariz. His brother Aaron had a career in beverage and wine marketing in San Francisco before entering the hospitality industry in New Zealand.

They’re still in the drinks business. Only now they’re based in the hamlet of Lebanon, N.Y., where they’re running a drinks-making operation called Old Home Distillers, producing whiskey, gin and more.

Lebanon is not exactly the middle of nowhere (though it seems close), but it is is the geographic center of New York State. It’s also close to where the Carvell brothers grew up.

The chance to run the distillery with their mom and dad lured them back home.

“That’s how we got the name — Old Home Distillers,” their mother, Marlene, said. “And this,” she said, pointing to the distillery, “is how we got them home.”

Old Home Distillers opened in late 2015 at 964 Campbell Road. It’s an out-of-the-way place, about 35 miles south of Utica, 18 miles southeast of Cazenovia and 22 miles north of Norwich.

The idea to open a craft distillery — a fast-growing industry in New York state and beyond — started with Adam Carvell.

“I was in the bar business and so I knew small, craft distilling was really picking up,” he said. “And I knew it was something we could do here. I knew it was getting big in New York state.”

And so the family reunited: Marlene and her husband Jerry are retired schoolteachers who worked in districts like Sherburne-Earlville and Madison. The boys both attended Sherburne-Earlville schools.

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