Klemann marks distillery's first year

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY -- Dr. Gil Klemann has been fingerprinted five times and had his mug shot taken three times.

And he couldn't be more happy about it.

Speaking before the Albany Rotary Club recently, 13th Colony Distilleries' master distiller described the process of making vodka and the seemingly endless list of federal and state regulations that must be followed, or, as Klemann put it, "they take you to jail."

Klemann described the nearly two-year process to get set up and licensed.

"When prohibition ended in 1936, the government wanted to make sure that organized crime stayed out of the liquor business," Klemann said. "I was fingerprinted and had mug shots made. We had to sign a waiver allowing law enforcement to tap our phones and enter our manufacturing facility without a warrant.

"We basically had to sign away all of our rights."

The distillery will celebrate its first year in business this month, and Klemann says he's enjoyed every minute of it.

"It turned out to be a lot more work than I thought it would be," he said. "But I'm having a blast. It's been a big difference in what I was doing before (as an OB-GYN). I've been able to meet a lot of new people.

"It's been great."

The distillery currently produces three products: Plantation Vodka, Southern Vodka and Southern Gin. Klemann said the company plans to add three more products "as soon as we finally turn a profit."

And what kind of future does he envision for himself and his fledgling distillery?

"I want to be the Col. Harland Sanders of the craft brewing business," Klemann replied. "You know he revolutionized fried chicken, then spent his latter days dressed in a white suit and string tie just riding around letting people look at him.

"I think I'd like that."