CARMEL, N.Y. -  Plans to build a distillery at the former Guideposts location (currently the Paladin Center) on Seminary Hill Road in Carmel took a major step forward last week when the Planning Board granted the project applicants site plan approval.

Alexandrion Group plans to invest more than $100 million into the new U.S. distillery. An initial investment of approximately $40 million will be dedicated to the construction of a 118,400-square-foot distillery, visitors center, and tasting rooms. Construction will start immediately after securing the building permit. Officials said the new distillery will create more than 100 jobs throughout the state, including 60 at the Seminary Hill location, as well as increase tourism in the region through various production tours and premium tastings.

The new distillery will produce premium spirits tailored to the U.S. market, such as whiskey, bourbon, gin, brandy, and vodka, and will export them to the 50 countries that Alexandrion Group is currently supplying around the world.

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At its Aug. 8 meeting, the Planning Board issued a negative declaration for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), meaning that the project will not result in a significant adverse environmental impact and no Environmental Impact Statement will be necessary.

The board unanimously approved the site plan with some minor tweaks to the original application.

“We have a total daily discharge that we have agreed to, but we want to make sure we don’t hydraulically flood the sewer,” said board member Carl Stone. “We would like to have a peak factor for the discharge…not to exceed two times the average daily flow at any given time.

“We don’t want to see [the discharge] come down at all the same time and be a problem for the sewer,” he continued. “It’s simply a capacity issue; it has nothing to do with the quality of the water per se because we have already agreed to really good quality for the discharge. It is a suggestion that we added to protect the sewer and the infrastructure. We just don’t want [to see] 44,000 gallons discharged in two hours. If you get a bad batch, we don’t want you dumping it all at once. We don’t want to inundate the sewers. I think that is reasonable.”

Stone said the discharge stipulation wouldn’t cost Alexandrion any more money—the already planned wastewater system should be able to accommodate the request.

Alexandrion officials said they would talk with their engineering department but said it shouldn’t preclude them from moving forward.

“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.

“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,”

Alexandrion still needs to secure the construction permit and, more importantly, overcome opposition from the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Law regarding the “tied house rule,” which Alexandrion officials say is inconsistent with the 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.”  

The project of the U.S. distillery, first announced in July 2017, was developed in connection with New York State, that offered the company $2.7 million in performance-based tax credits, through the Excelsior Jobs Program.

The Alexandrion Group is the leading producer, distributor and importer of spirit beverages in Romania. Together, Alexandrion and SABER 1789 Distilleries have a 200-year history in the spirits industry.

Alexandrion’s portfolio of spirit brands includes Alexandrion Five Star, Seven Star and Alexandrion 100 Romanian Brandy, Brâncoveanu VS, VSOP and XO Vinars, SABER Elyzia and Zolmyr Fruit Spirits, Kreskova Vodka, Alexander Vodka, Alexander Flavored Vodka and Alexander Gin, among others.  Most recently, Alexandrion Group acquired the Halewood Romanian wine portfolio adding to its collection of wine and spirit brands.