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Local News

May 3, 2014

Upstart distiller ties products to allure of Cooperstown

COOPERSTOWN — On Railroad Avenue here, a few hundred yards away from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, the Cooperstown Distillery has been in business for less than nine months.

But its proprietor, restaurant industry veteran Gene Marra, said Friday that he is already getting strong indications that the products he conceived — and now produces in a still imported from Germany — are in demand, with orders escalating and plans to expand the business already in the works.

And the steady increase in production is not by accident, Marra said.

Marra, who often relies on metaphors to make a point, said, “I have been very diligent in paying attention to hoeing my field, and making sure that all the crops are going to come in appropriately.”

He said he has understood from the beginning that is in a highly competitive marketplace, and that it would take more than simply offering quality blends of bourbon, whiskey, vodka, gin and other distilled spirits to build his product.

Strategic marketing and clever packaging, he said, have been important accomplices in helping to get the Cooperstown Distillery line of spirits noticed.

And praised, too.

In recent weeks, the local distillery’s Abner Doubleday Vodka captured top awards at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the Dallas International Spirits Competition. It also received honors in Denver for its unique baseball-shaped decanter.

Meanwhile, Fenimore Gin, another product from the local label, took home a gold medal in the “Fifty Best” International Gin Competition in New York City, while Glimmerglass Vodka was honored at the Denver competition.

Marra, 61, said it was his theory before he was even licensed to produce spirits that his products would have added appeal in the marketplace as a result of coming from a place called Cooperstown Distillery.

“There’s a reason why we’re not in Schenectady,” he said, noting Cooperstown is synonymous with the Baseball Hall of Fame and pointing out that baseball remains the national pastime.

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