Le recueil: Finger Lakes Distilling
Small Batch Craft Whiskey from New York State
Finger Lakes Distilling is a craft distillery on the East shore of Seneca Lake in Upstate New York
Like many great things, Finger Lakes Distilling started with an unusual coincidence. In this case, appropriately, it was at a craft distillers’ conference.
Brian McKenzie, a former Vice President of an upstate New York bank, and Thomas Earl McKenzie, a winemaker, brewer and distiller from Monroeville, Alabama, met at that conference in 2007. They aren’t related, but the two share the passion for craft spirits that led them to build a distillery in the heart of Finger Lakes wine country, on the shores of Seneca Lake.
It might seem like an odd choice, putting a distillery in the middle of a wine region. But if you think about it, it makes sense. For one thing, they have immediate access to the crop of one of the best grape-growing regions in the country. They even have their own vineyard in front of the distillery. The Finger Lakes region is also home to quite a few small farms, from which they get their corn, rye, barley, and the other grains and fruits that they use to make their premium spirits.
Finger Lakes Distilling is a NYS Farm Distillery, which means that they’re a small operation making a handcrafted product. It also means they’re able to devote all their attention to everything they make; they don’t take any shortcuts. Their flavored vodkas and liqueurs are made in the traditional manner, by soaking real fruits in the spirit. They don’t add extracts or synthetic flavoring to speed up the process. Their whiskies rest in oak barrels for as long as they need to, until they mature into the rich aged spirit they offer with pride.
Although the distillery is young, their vision is built on a foundation of tradition.
Using locally sourced raw materials, a commitment to traditional methods, and their two copper stills, they produce some seriously good spirits. Finger Lakes Distilling products include rich, aged, sipping whiskies, smooth vodka, unique gins, a range of exceptional liqueurs, and more. The design of their distillery is inspired by the classic style of Scottish whisky distilleries, with its white walls, black trim, and elegant pagoda roof. Inside the distillery is spacious and sunlit, with the stills and barrels full of slowly aging whiskey viewable from the tasting room and store.
Keeping with Finger Lakes Distilling's traditional vision, the McKenzie's believe in minimizing waste and using everything. Spent grains from fermentation are used by local farmers as animal feed. The oak floors of their distillery are reclaimed siding from a tobacco barn in Kentucky, and the wood bordering their tasting bar also used to be part of a local barn.
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