History

Health, History, and Horses

Horses TrackUpstate Distilling is located in historic and picturesque Saratoga Springs, NY.  Saratoga has adopted the slogan “Health, History, and Horses” while gaining international attention as a highly popular travel destination for over 200 years.  Steeped in tradition, culture, rich heritage, and natural beauty, Saratoga has become known as “The Queen of Spas” from the famous naturally carbonated spring waters.

The Queen of Spas

Originally discovered by Mohawk and Iroquois tribes, the “places of swift water” contained healing powers for many ailments for those who bathed in and consumed the water.  The popularity grew and even George Washington became a believer of the restorative powers. The springs are the only “naturally carbonated mineral springs east of the Rocky Mountains,” according to the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitor Center.

Turning Point of the Revolutionary War

Revolutionary war erra muffle style cannon on wheels aimed towards the field. This is the area where the Battle of Saratoga, the turning point in the Revolutionary War, was won against the British Army.
Revolutionary War era muffle-style cannon on wheels aimed towards the field. This is the area where the Battle of Saratoga, the turning point in the Revolutionary War, was won against the British Army.

The history doesn’t end there, however.  Saratoga is widely known as the turning point in the Revolutionary War.  In 1777 the Battle of Saratoga was a crucial turning point for the Patriots in the American Revolution.  British General John Burgoyne planned to march south from Montreal to Albany to gain control of Upstate New York, thus isolating New England from the southern colonies. 

At the same time British General Howe was marching north from New York City with the goal of connecting forces with General Burgoyne to fully control New York.  General George Washington mobilized American forces led by Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold, along with any militia willing to join the fight. 

During the course of two battles, first on September 19, 1777, and then October 7, 1777, the Continental Army began to devastate British troops and their German allies. According to Saratoga.com, “Fighting on horseback, Benedict Arnold, received a wound in his leg during this battle; his contribution to the battle is commemorated by a statue of his boot, with no other reference to the hero turned traitor”.

Breymann Redoubt stop at the Saratoga National Battlefield Park, Schuylerville, New York. This commemorates the area that Major Benedict Arnold for the Continental Army was shot in the leg.
Breymann Redoubt stop at the Saratoga National Battlefield Park, Schuylerville, New York. This commemorates the area that Major Benedict Arnold for the Continental Army was shot in the leg.

Eventually British General Burgoyne was defeated by a combination of American forces and an outpouring of militia support. British forces were driven back into Saratoga where Burgoyne and 6,000 British troops eventually surrendered.  This major victory is what convinced France to enter the conflict on the American side providing enough troops and resources support for the Americans to win the Revolutionary War. Without this victory, France most likely would not have supported the American cause and the Americans would have lost the war.

Not Just a One-Horse Town

Besides mineral water and Revolutionary war history, Saratoga is home to the oldest sports facility in America.  According to SaratogaRaceTrack.com …

On August 3, 1863, gambler, casino owner, ex-boxing champion, and future congressman John Morrissey organized Saratoga’s first thoroughbred meet a month after the Battle of Gettysburg. At the old dirt track on Union Ave., later known as Horse Haven, Morrissey staged a four day meet. Over 5,000 people came to watch and wager on the eight races.

Filmmakers and other media have sought out Saratoga and the race course as both the main focus or as a set. Filming in Saratoga, and at Saratoga Race Course, assures original beauty that no set designer could reproduce, i.e. films such as “Seabiscuit,” “Saratoga,” “The Horse Whisperer,” “Billy Bathgate,” “Ghost Story,” and “My Old Man.” A scene in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel, “Diamonds are Forever,” features a scene at the Saratoga Race Course. Other authors, as well, have long been enamored with the haunting, untouchable beauty of the place: Edna Ferber and Stephen Dobyns to name a few.13saratoga-blog480

Over the years, while Saratoga Race Course has morphed, it has never compromised its sense of history and original purpose. One of the most unique aspects of the race course is that horses walk right through the crowd, on a white-fenced path, to get to the paddock for their races. Such a thrill, to get to stand so close to actual greatness-to see the sun glimmering off the horses’ beautifully-maintained coats. To experience their eyes, their musculature-that close, and personal.

Fast forward over 150 years later and Saratoga continues to be the most popular horse racing track outside of Churchill Downs in Kentucky.  Each summer hundreds of thousands of people gather in Saratoga to try their luck and pick the winning pony.  Upstate Distilling is an 8-minute car ride to the Saratoga race track.