Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Newsletter & Gift Guide

If you didn't catch our December newsletter, here it is. We included a great gift guide, so if you're looking for a last minute idea, come see us at the distillery.

Holiday Gift Guide

If you are looking for a unique gift this holiday season, FLD might be the place to shop. Whether it's for your dad who loves whiskey or for your co-worker who loves to entertain, check us out for that perfect present. Happy shopping!

For the Foodie
Try our very popular Brooklyn Brine products. Now offering:
  • Whiskey Sour Pickles featuring McKenzie Rye Whiskey
  • Fennel Beets
  • Chipotle Carrots
  • Lavendar Asparagus
Know someone addicted to snacks that are both sweet and salty? Better Brittle is always a favorite. Made locally, it has the perfect crunch and satisfies every sweet tooth!


For the Entertainer

Hand-crafted granite cheeseboards make great gifts and come in many different sizes, shapes and shades.
No two pieces are the same.


Also, check out the hysterical cocktail napkins and coasters that we offer to liven up any happy hour!


Brandy Gift Pack

Buy each of the 3 fruit brandies (Pear, Black Currant, and Peach) and receive 15% off. Our fruit brandy is closer to a European style eau de vie - we capture the true essence of the fruit.

fruit brandy package

The Whiskey Lover

FLD is where it's at for whiskey connoisseurs that love to try something new or have enjoyed McKenzie Whiskies in the past. Chose your whiskey- Rye or Bourbon. Add a set of Whiskey Rocks to guarantee a perfect chill without diluting the whiskey with ice. Don't forget to purchase the Glencairn
official whiskey glass with the FLD logo to complete the gift.

whiskey lover

For the Do-it-Yourselfer

Don't forget about our Age-your-own-Rye kits for the person that might like to try their hand at whiskey aging.
The kits include a 2-liter lightly charred barrel with stand, two 1-liter bottles of McKenzie Rye White Dog, and all the information you'll need to make a great barrel of whiskey. $99.


For the Breakfast Boozer

Try Longhorn Bloody Mary Mix with Fee Brothers Celery Bitters and our Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey to your holiday morning started right! Well, it isn't just for breakfast. It's also a great cocktail to warm you up on cold winter evenings.

bloody mary

Stocking Stuffers!

  • Logo golf balls and divot tools
  • Cocktail lip balm and Seneca Drums soap
  • Barware - muddlers, flasks, shakers, jiggers
  • FLD playing cards
  • Lots of apparel - hats, tees, hoodies, etc.

Friday, October 15, 2010

October newsletter

Click here to read the latest.

Peach brandy will be on the shelf tomorrow at the distillery. Come get a bottle - tastes very similar to the brandy we helped make at Mt. Vernon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Making George Proud

The past few days have been filled with some of the most memorable experiences we've had since starting Finger Lakes Distilling. As I mentioned in our last newsletter, we were recently asked to participate in the re-creation of George Washington's peach brandy down at his reconstructed distillery in Mt. Vernon.

It's not common knowledge, but our founding father was, at one time, the largest commercial whiskey producer in the U.S. After fighting for our independence and serving as our first President, Washington re-focused his energy into entrepreneurial ventures, the distillery being one example, after being talked into it by his plantation manager, James Anderson (a Scot, of course). Below is a picture of the cornerstone of the historic distillery.

While rye whiskey was the main output from the distillery at Mt. Vernon, the records show that other spirits were produced. Peach brandy was produced in small quantities (~60 gallons per year), and was consumed primarily by guests at Washington's Mt. Vernon Estate.

Our task began back here in Burdett, NY where we brought in over 500 gallons of fresh peach juice in early September. We fermented and distilled the juice into peach low wines (1x distilled) which we donated to the project. After completing the necessary paperwork, we transferred the liquid to Mt. Vernon Distillery, a functioning distilled spirits plant at the historical site.

Thomas and I set out for the DC area this past Sunday. After the usual stops at some breweries and distilleries along the way, we settled in Monday night after some dinner with representatives from the Distilled Spirits Council and reporters covering the story.

Work began first thing Tuesday morning. We transferred the low wines over to the distillery, blended with another distiller's contribution and cut down to 40 proof. The liquid was then divided into two of the five stills that would have been functioning in Washington's day. Below is a picture of the FLD truck backed up to the distillery entrance so we could transfer the low wines.

We were honored to be part of a very prestigious group of distillers working on this project. We were chosen as 1 of 3 craft distillers involved in the project - the others: Ted Huber of Huber-Starlight Distillery in southern Indiana and Lance Winters of St. George Spirits in California. We were also joined by Dave Pickerell, former Master Distiller at Maker's Mark, currently a consultant in the industry, and Joe Dangler, Master Distiller at A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Virginia. Dave and Joe have been involved with previous distillations at Mt. Vernon so were very valuable contributors to the effort. Standing below, L to R, Steve Bashore (Manager of Distillery and Gristmill), me, Ted Huber, Thomas, Lance Winters and Dave Pickerell.

The stills at Mt. Vernon were a little trickier to run than what we're used to at FLD. While utilizing the same concept, the potstills are heated with direct flame, so controlling the heat of the fire is essential. The condensers are made from whiskey barrels that house a copper coil. Water is continually fed into the barrel allowing it to cool the vapors running through the coil. Patience is definitely required in running these stills. While we can run 30 gallons of brandy in a few hours at our distillery, we distilled less than 15 over a 5 hour span on Tuesday. Pictured below is Thomas resting against one of the condensers.

As the stills were up and running, we decided to make a fresh peach fermentation for the media to see on Wednesday. This entailed getting our hands a little dirty by pitting and mashing some peaches into small oak containers.

Everything is absolutely pristine at Mt. Vernon. Here is a picture of the mill with stream running through it. The distillery is set on the right beyond it. After work on Tuesday, Steve took us through the mill and actually set everything in motion showing the brilliant engineering behind this one-of-a-kind Evans milling system.

Tuesday night was spent having dinner with the whole crew as well as some more folks from DISCUS and Mt. Vernon. Of course, we had to sample each others' wares after dinner which made Wednesday morning come awfully early.

We re-charged the still and got things up to boil before the media started showing up. We had a few minutes to kill, so Thomas and I used some items from my costume closet to get a few amusing shots (below).

The media started arriving around 11 a.m. I'll post some of the resulting stories in the next few days, but it was very apparent that this was a national news story. Reporters from the AP, Fox, PBS, etc were all there to learn about Washington's ties to the distilling industry and the current interest in craft spirits. The highlight for me was a piece that aired on PBS News Nightly Business Report. The segment begins at 21:18, or just click on the barrel on far right below the screen.

After interviews and film footage, we all moved upstairs for a small press conference led by DISCUS and Mt. Vernon's, Dennis Pogue. The conference concluded with a toast to Washington led by a James Anderson reenactor using the very peach brandy we had been distilling.

How did it come out? The consensus was that we achieved what we were looking for. The distillate is very smooth and while peach is not an easy flavor to extract through distillation, it certainly shines through in what we collected. The end result was about 50 gallons of cut spirit that will now rest in uncharred American oak barrels for 1 or 2 years. The barrels will not add much oak to the spirit, which will help preserve the peach flavor. The spirit will change over time through oxidation, hopefully picking up even stronger peach flavors.

Our work was essentially done. We spent some time that afternoon touring the grounds at Mt. Vernon and then got ready for Wednesday night's gala celebration. Over 700 people came together to honor George Washington and his contributions to our industry. We mingled with executives from the large spirits companies, politicians, and others. Of course, the bar was well stocked and even included some products from FLD and the other craft distillers.

In addition to a silent auction of celebrity-signed liquor bottles, a live auction yielded $25,000 for a small bottle of rye that was one of the first distilled at the reconstructed distillery (maybe the peach will bring the same someday). The night also included one of the best fireworks shows I've ever seen while listening to patriotic music on the portico of Mt. Vernon, overlooking the Potomac. All monies raised will benefit the educational programs at Mt. Vernon.

Here are a couple of photos from the gala event: Thomas and me in front of the main mansion and Jenny with General Washington himself. Stay tuned for more information about our involvement in this historic project and news about our own peach brandy release in the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

September newsletter...

Click here to read about what's going on at FLD this month.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Seneca Drums Gin - Best NY Spirit

Great news yesterday: our Seneca Drums Gin was named Best NY Spirit at the NY Wine & Food Classic. The esteemed panel of judges selected Seneca Drums over 17 other NY-produced brands. Read on for the full press release.

Watkins Glen, New York, AUGUST 17—Swedish Hill Winery Riesling Cuvee from the Finger Lakes won the coveted “Governor’s Cup” trophy at the 2010 New York Wine & Food Classic competition, held on August 16 & 17 at the Glen Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen, NY. The “Winery of the Year” award went to Sheldrake Point Vineyards, another Finger Lakes winery, for the second year in a row.

The elegant Governor’s Cup, a large silver chalice, recognizes the “Best of Show” or top prize of all 850 entries in the Classic, known as “The Oscars” of New York wine. The “Winery of the Year” award is presented to the winery with the best overall showing based on the level and number of awards in relation to entries.

This year’s competition included 850 New York wines and 17 spirits from the Long Island, Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes, Niagara Escarpment, Lake Erie, and other regions of New York State. The Swedish Hill Riesling Cuvee was also voted Best Vinifera Sparkling and Best Overall Sparkling on its way to the ultimate award. Sheldrake Point Vineyards received 2 Double Golds, 2 Gold, 4 Silver, and 2 Bronze awards on its way to the Winery of the Year award.

A “Specialty Wine Champion” award was added in 2008 to recognize consistent quality among the increasing number of wines made from fruits other than grapes, or honey. The 2010 winner was ELF’s Farm Winery and Cider Mill with 1 Double Gold and 2 Silver awards. A new “Best New York Spirit” award went to Finger Lakes Distilling Seneca Drums Gin.

The awards were based on blind tastings by 24 expert judges—4 from California, 12 from New York, 6 from other states and 2 from the United Kingdom. Judges included prominent wine writers, restaurateurs, retailers, and wine educators. Four-judge panels determined the initial awards, with top-scoring wines evaluated by all 24 judges for Best of Category and Governor’s Cup awards.

Celebrating its 25th year, the Classic is organized by Teresa Knapp of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, and is open to all 280 New York wineries from all regions. In 2010, a total of 32 Double Gold, 74 Gold, 284 Silver, and 250 Bronze medals were awarded. In addition, “Best of Category” and “Best of Class” designations were awarded to wines rated as the finest in various areas. Double Gold medals require unanimity among a panel’s judges that a wine deserves a Gold medal, whereas Gold medals require a majority vote.

The “Best of Category” awards, all eligible for the Governor’s Cup, went to:

Best Sparkling Wine Swedish Hill Winery Riesling Cuvee
Best White Wine Keuka Lake Vineyards 2009 Semi Dry Riesling
Best Rosé Wine Arbor Hill Grapery Coriesa Hill Iona Rose
Best Red Wine Bedell Cellars 2008 Cabernet Franc
Best Dessert Wine Casa Larga Vineyards 2007 Fiori Delle Stelle Vidal Ice Wine
Best Specialty Wine Torrey Ridge Winery Scarlet Red
Best New York Spirit Finger Lakes Distilling Seneca Drums Gin

The “Best of Class” awards went to:

Best Vinifera Sparkling Swedish Hill Winery Riesling Cuvee
Best Unoaked Chardonnay Coyote Moon Vineyards Naked Chardonnay
Best Overall Chardonnay Coyote Moon Vineyards Naked Chardonnay
Best Dry Riesling McGregor Vineyard 2008 Riesling
Best Medium Dry Riesling Keuka Lake Vineyards 2009 Semi Dry Riesling
Best Medium Sweet Riesling Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2009 Semi Dry Riesling
Best Overall Riesling Keuka Lake Vineyards 2009 Semi Dry Riesling
Best Niagara Schulze Vineyards & Winery Thirty Mile Point Sweet Niagara
Best Gewürztraminer Sheldrake Point Vineyards 2008 Gewürztraminer
Best Cayuga White Swedish Hill Winery 2009 Cayuga White
Best Traminette Bet the Farm Winery 2009 Traminette
Best Vidal Blanc Swedish Hill Winery 2009 Vidal Blanc
Best Vignoles Lucas Vineyards 2009 Vignoles
Best Hybrid White Thousand Islands Winery Wellesley Island White
Best Diamond Torrey Ridge Winery Diamond
Best Native White Blend Niagara Landing Wine Cellars 2009 Rosebud Gold
Best Vinifera Rosé McGregor Vineyard 2009 Rosé D’Cabernet Franc
Best Native Rosé Arbor Hill Grapery Coriesa Hill Iona Rosé
Best Cabernet Franc Bedell Cellars 2008 Cabernet Franc
Best Other Vinifera Red Varietal Fulkerson Winery 2008 Dornfelder
Best Vinifera Red Blend Peconic Bay Winery Nautique Esprit De Rouge
Best Native Red Blend Penguin Bay Winery Tuxedo Red
Best Concord Eagle Crest Vineyards 2009 Canal Boat Red
Best Fruit Wine ELF’s Farm Winery and Cider Mill 2009
Appalachian Trail Apple Wine
Best Mead Torrey Ridge Winery Scarlet Red
Best Late Harvest Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars 2008

Bunch Select Late Harvest Riesling
Best Ice Wine Casa Larga Vineyards 2007 Fiori Delle Stelle Vidal Ice Wine

The following wines were awarded Double Gold medals:

Winery Vintage Wine
Barrington Cellars 2007 Frosty Niagara
Billsboro Winery 2008 Apres
Casa Larga Vineyards 2007 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine
Coyote Moon Vineyards NV Naked Chardonnay
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars 2008 Riesling
ELF's Farm Winery & Cider Mill 2009 Appalachian Trail Apple Wine
Finger Lakes Distilling 2010 Seneca Drums Gin
Heron Hill Winery 2008 Semi-Sweet Riesling
Hosmer Winery 2008 Chardonnay
Hosmer Winery 2008 Cabernet Franc
Imagine Moore Winery 2009 Passion
Keuka Lake Vineyards 2009 Dry Riesling
Keuka Lake Vineyards 2009 Semi Dry Riesling
Keuka Spring Vineyards 2008 Vignoles Dessert Wine
King Ferry Winery 2008 Treleaven Dry Riesling
Lakewood Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Franc
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2009 Yellow Dog Riesling
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2009 Semi-Dry Riesling
Leidenfrost Vineyards NV Niagara
Lucas Vineyards 2009 Vignoles
Niagara Landing Wine Cellars 2009 Rosebud Gold
Paumanok Vineyards 2009 Riesling Late Harvest
Penguin Bay Winery NV Tuxedo Red
Red Newt Cellars 2009 "Circle" Label Riesling
Rock Stream Vineyards NV Grappa
Schulze Vineyards & Winery NV Thirty Mile Point Sweet Niagara
Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2008 Gewurztraminer
Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2008 Late Harvest Riesling
Swedish Hill Winery 2009 Cayuga White
Swedish Hill Winery 2009 Vidal Blanc
Thousand Islands Winery NV Wellesley Island White
Torrey Ridge Winery NV Scarlet Red

The following wines were awarded Gold medals:
Winery Vintage Wine
Americana Vineyards & Winery 2009 Crystal Lake
Anthony Road Wine Company 2009 Vignoles
Arbor Hill Grapery NV Coriesa Hill Iona Rose
Atwater Estate Vineyards 2008 Gewurztraminer
Bedell Cellars 2008 Cabernet Franc
Belhurst Estate Winery 2009 Gewurztraminer
Bet The Farm Winery 2009 Traminette
Billsboro Winery 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Bloomer Creek Vineyards 2008 Riesling
Bouke and Bouquet 2009 Bouquet White Dessert Wine
Casa Larga Vineyards 2008 Cabernet Franc Ice Wine
Cascata Winery 2008 The Professor's Classic: Dry Riesling
Cascata Winery 2009 Cascade Riesling
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Eagle Crest Vineyards 2009 Canal Boat Red
Earle Estates Meadery NV Honey Mead Contemporary
Earle Estates Meadery NV Autumn Harvest
Fox Run Vineyards 2008 Tierce Dry Riesling
Fulkerson Winery 2008 Dornfelder
Glenora Wine Cellars 2009 Dry Riesling
Glenora Wine Cellars 2009 Signature
Glenora Wine Cellars 2008 Meritage
Goose Watch Winery NV Classic Cream Sherry
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards 2008 Homstead Reserve Riesling
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard 2008 Dry Riesling
Hudson-Chatham Winery 2008 Baco Noir Reserve
Imagine Moore Winery 2009 Joy
Imagine Moore Winery 2008 Inspiration
Jamesport Vineyards 2007 Petit Verdot
Johnson Estate Winery 2009 Concord
Keuka Spring Vineyards 2009 Riesling
King Ferry Winery NV Gilded Lily
King Ferry Winery 2008 Treleaven Eis Late Harvest Riesling
Knapp Winery and Restaurant 2009 Dry Riesling
Knapp Winery and Restaurant 2008 Vidal Blanc
Knapp Winery and Restaurant NV Limoncello
Lakewood Vineyards 2009 Vignoles
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2006 Blanc de Blanc
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2009 Dry Riesling
Lucas Vineyards 2009 Cayuga White
Lucas Vineyards 2007 Limited Reserve Cabernet Franc
Martha Clara Vineyards 2009 Riesling
McGregor Vineyard 2008 Riesling
McGregor Vineyard 2009 Rosé D'Cabernet Franc
Montezuma Winery & Hidden Marsh Distillery NV Semi-Sweet Mead
Montezuma Winery & Hidden Marsh Distillery NV Maple Liquer
Osprey's Dominion Vineyards 2007 Reserve Chardonnay
Paumanok Vineyards 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
Paumanok Vineyards 2007 Merlot Tuthills Lane Vineyard
Paumanok Vineyards 2007 Assemblage
Peconic Bay Winery 2007 La Barrique Chardonnay
Peconic Bay Winery 2009 Riesling
Peconic Bay Winery NV Nautique Esprit De Rouge
Pellegrini Vineyards 2007 Vintner's Pride Chardonnay
Penguin Bay Winery NV Percussion
Red Newt Cellars 2008 Dry Riesling - Reserve
Rock Stream Vineyards NV Make Me Blush
Rooster Hill Vineyards 2008Estate Cabernet Franc
Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2007 Reserve Riesling
Sheldrake Point Vineyard 2009 Dry Riesling
Silver Springs Winery 2009 Blueberry Bliss
Sparkling Pointe 2004 Blanc de Blancs
Standing Stone Vineyards 2008 Gewurztraminer Ice
Swedish Hill Winery NV Riesling Cuvee
Swedish Hill Winery 2009 Dry Riesling
Swedish Hill Winery 2009 Riesling
Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2009 Dry Riesling
Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2009 Vidal Blanc
Thirsty Owl Wine Company 2007 Meritage
Torrey Ridge Winery NV Diamond
Ventosa Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc
Wolffer Estate Vineyard 2007 Chardonnay
Zugibe Vineyards 2008 Dry Riesling
Zugibe Vineyards 2007 Zenith

Complete results of the 2010 Classic will soon be posted under “New York Gold” at, which also includes Gold medal New York wines from other major competitions.

Media Contact: Jim Trezise, 585-394-3620, ext. 203

2010 New York Wine & Food Classic Judges

Julie Arkell
Freelance Wine & Spirits Writer & Author,
London, England

Mollie Battenhouse, DWS
Wine Director & Educator, International Wine Center, New York, New York

Dan Berger
Wine Journalist and Publisher,
Santa Rosa, California

Jill Blume
Enology Specialist, Purdue University,
Executive Director, Indy Int’l Wine Competition
West Lafayette, Indiana

Rene Chazottes
Wine Director, Maitre Sommelier, The Pacific Club, Newport Beach, California

Jim Clarke,
Wine Writer and Director, MEGU,
New York, New York

Michael Feil
General Manager, Westchester Country Club
Rye, New York

Doug Frost, M.W., M.S.
Wine Writer and Educator,
Prairie Village, Kansas

Chris Gerling
Enology Extension Associate, Cornell University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station,
Geneva, New York

Louisa Hargrave
Journalist and Consultant, Wine Wise, LLC,
Long Island Wine Pioneer
Southampton, New York

Lorraine Hems, CS, CWE
Lecturer of Wine Studies, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY & Instructor, NYWCC,
Canandaigua, New York

Linda Lawry
Director, International Wine Center,
New York, New York

Fred LeBrun
Columnist, Albany Times Union,
Albany, New York

Marquita Levy
Wine Associate and Wine Buyer, Vino Volo Wine Bar, John F. Kennedy Airport
New York, New York

Ann Littlefield
Direct Wine Marketing Brand Champion,
Napa, California

Bill Mahoney
Wine Manager, Premium Wine & Spirits,
Williamsville, New York

Anna Katharine Mansfield, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Enology, Cornell University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station,
Geneva, New York

Ann Miller
Marketing Specialist, Missouri Wine & Grape Board, Jefferson City, Missouri

Jerry Pellegrino
Chef/Owner, CORKS & Abacrombie Fine Foods, Baltimore, Maryland

Maggie Rosen
Independent Journalist & Author,
London, England

Coke Roth
Wine Consultant & Attorney,
Kennewick, Washington

Dr. Bob Small
Professor Emeritus, Collins College of Hospitality Management, Cal Poly University & Chairman, Los Angeles Int’l Wine & Spirits Competition,
Pomona, California

Phil Ward
Brand Manager & Wine Educator, American B.D. Co./The Opici Wine Group, Board of Directors, International Riesling Foundation
Glen Rock, New Jersey

Eric White
Wine Consultant & Store Manager, The Winery,
New York, New York

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Birthday FLD.

1 year ago on July 17, we opened the doors of our tasting room without a lot of fanfare. Since then, we've hosted thousands of visitors, perfected the quarter ounce pour, and had a great time along the way. We'd like to thank all of you for your support in Year #1.

With the craziness of the season upon us again, we haven't had time to plan a proper celebration for our fans and customers (perhaps something this fall?), but we did want to recognize the contributions of our excellent staff in making our first year a success.

Those of you that have visited our tasting room know how lucky we are to have personable, well educated staff members. We constantly get comments from customers about what a great experience they've had meeting with our people.

Last night we celebrated with a cruise aboard the Malabar VII Schooner - True Love. It was a perfect night for a sail - mix of sun and clouds with a nice wind. Great food, lots of laughs and of course, a few cocktails, were enjoyed by all.

Anyone visiting our area should make a charter on True Love part of the experience.

Thanks again to all of you for making it a memorable year!

The FLD crew getting ready to board

Some of the FLD girls on the deck of True Love

Thomas and Bill discussing something very important, I'm sure

Glenn & Mike
Docking for the night back in beautiful Watkins Glen

Monday, July 19, 2010

More good reviews, including another mention in NY Times

Top NY Times Wine Critic, Eric Asimov, recently dined at ABC Kitchen, a great new restaurant featuring our products in NYC. He kicked off the evening with a McKenzie Rye Manhattan and seemed to really enjoy the experience. Click here for the article and recipe. My favorite line: "What makes this Manhattan so the combination of superb ingredients in it."

We've also gotten some great press/reviews on several of our other products. whiskey writer, Lance Mayhew, is rethinking his aversion to vodka after tasting Vintner's (did he really compare us to Biggie Smalls?). Bill Dowd is enjoying gin season with some Seneca Drums in some pretty interesting cocktails.

We're also getting lots of great comments on our recently sold-out McKenzie Bourbon: read here and here.

Don't take the critics' word for it - come out and see for yourself. We're open every day 11-5 and now available in about 150 retail locations.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Whiskey Situation

Sad to say, we are officially out of Bourbon. The last 3 cases moved out of our tasting room yesterday afternoon.

Fortunately, Rye Batch #2 is here to save the day. We are bottling it fast and furiously and have some available in the tasting room today. It tastes very similar to Batch #1. One subtle difference is a strong note of honey. When we were fermenting the grains that went into this batch almost a year ago, we noticed a honey smell. Apparently, this continued through our distillation and barrel aging program.

Like Batch #1, we also finished in local sherry barrels which gives a little sweetness and a raisin-like quality to this otherwise spicy whiskey.

We're really happy with the result and hope you can find some time to come out and try (and buy!) it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Manhattan Cocktail Classic Recap

Why would I be posting about an event that happened over a week ago? If you attended the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, you would understand. It was the type of event that might put you out of commission for a period of time...a five-day festival centered around "The Cocktail", parties 'til the wee hours, pouring tastings for 7-8 hour stretches, all located in the heart of NYC.

The event got widespread media attention. Here is an article that appeared in the Wall St Journal and here is a clip that appeared on CBS News.

The weekend kicked off with the gala event held at the NY Public Library on Friday night. We were greeted by Oompa Loompas at the door.

(photo courtesy of Nikola Tamindzic)

If that didn't give you the impression that things were a bit over-the-top, it was very apparent when you saw "Queen Victoria" enjoying a martini over the Hendrick's display.

(photo courtesy of Nikola Tamindzic)

Probably one of the best parties I've been too. The setting was incredible, cocktails were on the money, and we made some great contacts. Pictured below (L to R) Alexis Kahn (our NYC sales representative), me, Jenny, Noah Shannon (Alexis's husband) and our good friend Steve Shaw, who represents several high-end spirits brands while also supporting one of our favorite Finger Lakes wineries, Shaw Vineyards.

(photo courtesy of Eric Strauss)

We were back at work on Sunday from 1 to 9 p.m. at the Micro Spirits Odyssey. The venue (Butter) was packed all day and the staff from Hush Cocktails came up with some incredible drinks. I also sat on a panel at the event, discussing the benefits of our industry to NYS agriculture. Below is a picture of Jenny and me pouring our wares for a serious spirits enthusiast (he liked them).

(photo courtesy of Phil Anema)

What an incredible event. Kudos to Lesley Townsend and all the people that made it a success. Can't wait until next year!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Latest FLD newsletter...

Click here for the latest news at Finger Lakes Distilling - recap of our Bourbon release, info on the latest products, and some great cocktail recipes.

Come pick up a bottle of Pear or Currant Brandy this weekend!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

63 hours 'til Bourbon

And down the stretch...Bourbon release (and KY Derby) are just a couple days away. Can't wait to see everyone and see the reactions at the tasting bar. We're really proud of Batch #1 which is almost completely bottled at this point.

Getting some nice pre-release buzz.

John Hansell, our friend at Malt Advocate, posted this on his blog today.

There was also this great piece in the new Ithaca Post today.

See you Saturday!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

6 days 'til Bourbon

It's been way too long since our last post, but we've been busy working hard at the distillery. In addition to getting things spiffed up for spring, we've got new batches of corn whiskey (100% corn and malted corn), vodka, and blueberry (even better than before).

The biggest news, however, is the event scheduled for this upcoming weekend. On May 1, we'll be releasing our first batch of McKenzie Bourbon. This extremely limited release is expected to sell out very quickly, so plan on joining us to celebrate this Saturday.

We thought it was appropriate to launch Batch #1 on Kentucky Derby Day, seeing as though bourbon and horse racing go together so well. There are lots of people that insist bourbon can only be made in Kentucky, but we're ready to prove them wrong.

McKenzie Bourbon is made from local corn and rye. It's aged a total of 18 months - mostly in new charred 10 gallon barrels before finishing in local chardonnay casks.

The end result is a very rich and old-fashioned tasting bourbon. It will be priced at $45 for a 750 ml bottle.

Guests on Saturday will enjoy the music of Long John and the Tights from 2-5 pm. Wear your Kentucky Derby hat for a free tasting. We're also holding a small Derby Party for customers after regular business hours. Please call the distillery at 607.546.5510 if you are interested in learning more.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Go Big Red!

It was a huge weekend for Cornell sports. The men's basketball team is on a roll, beating both Temple and Wisconsin to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in history. The men's hockey team also had a big weekend, taking the ECAC Championship and securing a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

To celebrate, we whipped up an impromptu Big Red Martini:

2 ounces Vintner's Wildberry Vodka
1 ounce FLD Raspberry Liqueur
1 ounce simple syrup
splash of fresh lime juice
shake, strain into martini glass and garnish with cherry

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Back in my college days, I would have already been out celebrating at this hour. Tipping back some artificially colored (green, of course) cheap domestic beer and having the time of my life.

Well now that we are all much more mature and the purveyors of fine spirits, what recommendations do we have for St. Patty's Day cocktails?

I really don't think you can go wrong with beer on a day like today - Guinness, Murphy's, or Smithwicks being my favorites. Irish whiskies seem appropriate, but the major brands that are most commonly available never have enough taste for me. Irish cream liqueurs? No thanks.

How about trying our McKenzie Rye in an Irish coffee? The spicy characteristics shine through and make a delicious dessert-style coffee when adding sugar and some fresh whipped cream. Also seems very worldly to have a Scottish-named, American whiskey used in an Irish coffee. Try it out.

For those of you that insist on making all things green today (I've even seen St. Patty's undergarments on the market), we recommend the following:

Chartreuse Martini

3 ounces Seneca Drums Gin

0.5 ounce Green Chartreuse (French herbal liqueur)

Shake or stir with ice and strain into martini glass. Garnish with a twist or fresh mint leaf.

Whatever you choose, here's hoping the wind is always at your back and that you have a happy and safe St. Patty's.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joining the DISCUS Craft Distillery Advisory Council

For years, the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) has helped the largest spirits companies in the world shape public policy and perception with regards to high proof alcoholic beverages. A few weeks ago, it became clear to me that the growing craft distilling industry had caught their attention. I received a call regarding the formation of a Craft Distillers DISCUS membership. I also had the honor of being asked to sit on the 11-member Advisory Council for Craft Distillers. I consider this a testament to what we're doing at Finger Lakes Distilling, as there are now over 200 small distilleries they could have chosen from to serve in this capacity.

This news was released today and I'm thrilled to be involved. I believe we can help DISCUS achieve their goals of promoting the responsible enjoyment of spirits. We can also attest to the economic benefits of the craft distillation movement - new jobs, tax revenues, value-added use for agriculture products, tourism, etc.

I'm looking forward to getting involved with this organization, learning from its more established members, and helping to promote our industry in any way we can.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What you should do this weekend

2 suggestions:

1. If you are in the vicinity of FLD, stop in to try our newly-released grappa. We offer 3 varieties - Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Muscat. Each has its own distinct character, but all are highly aromatic and a lot smoother than most grappa on the market.

2. If you live in the NYC area, come see us at one of our tastings this weekend.

We'll be pouring our McKenzie Rye at Crush Wine & Spirits on Friday from 5:30-7:30.

On Saturday, we'll be mixing up classic martinis and a specialty cocktail at Martinibowl from 2-5 pm at Union Square Wines.

We'll also be tasting our full range of spirits from 4-7 on Saturday at Bowery & Vine.

Hope to see you out and about.

Monday, February 1, 2010

NY Distillers show off their wares at industry tastings

Last week, we joined 6 other NYS distilleries to showcase the high quality spirits made in our state. The NY Wine & Culinary Center (NYWCC) sponsored two industry tastings (one in Saratoga Springs and the other at the Culinary Center in Canandaigua), as well as an evening seminar that was open to the public. In addition to giving the attendees some background on NY Farm Distilleries and the processes we use, 15 spirits were sampled. We poured our Seneca Drums Gin and McKenzie Rye which were both very well received.

It was great to see such positive reactions from those in attendance. While most were in the business as liquor store or bar/restaurant owners, there were a few media folks.

Renowned spirits journalist, Bill Dowd, had this to say about the event. He also took a liking to our Rye - click here to see his review.

Another blogger from the Albany area wrote this about the seminar and described our Rye as " distinctive and delicious...(he) kept imagining the taste the following day."

I hope we get more opportunities to promote NY craft spirits a group. I think we opened a lot of eyes and can be proud of the products we're putting out. So, next time you're in your local liquor store, keep NYS spirits in mind.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Young Guns on the Whiskey Trail

Great article about the distillery in American Public House Review...

Thursday, January 21, 2010's Whiskies of the Year

Wow - just learned about some nice recognition for our distillery. Lance Mayhew, accomplished mixologist and contributing writer for named our McKenzie Rye best Rye under $50 and our Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey best Corn Whiskey in his list of Best American Whiskies.

Click here for the article.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Hello 2010!

It's been a while since we posted. Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season. Thanks for all your support in our first year of business and we hope to see lots of you during 2010.

Things are fairly quiet in our tasting room now that the holidays are over, but it's a great time to come out and visit. Our spirits help take the edge off these cold days we've been having. It also gives us a chance to talk about our process a little more and perhaps even show you around the production facility.

Thomas is still busy making hooch, as our wholesale business continues to grow (please ask your retailer if they are carrying our brands yet). Grappa should be out very soon and we've also got some delicious fruit brandies on the way.

We've got some great events coming up in January. Hope to see you out and about.

Winter Harvest Dinner
Saturday, Jan 23, 5 pm at Finger Lakes Distilling:

Please join us for a wonderful evening of great local food and drink. We begin at 5 pm at Finger Lakes Distilling where we will offer samples of our unique spirits and tour our production facility. At 6 pm, the party moves to Red Newt Bistro for hors d'oeuvres and dinner/wine pairings. All ticket sales benefit the Health Food for All Program. Click here for more details.

NY Spirits Class
Thursday, Jan 28, 6:30 pm, NY Wine & Culinary Center (Canandaigua):

NY State is well known for its wine production, but is also becoming a hotbed for the emerging craft distilling industry. In this class you will learn about how NYS micro-distillers are using high quality, local raw materials to create world-class spirits. Finger Lakes Distilling President, Brian McKenzie, will be teaching the class and will offer tastings of several NYS spirits including vodka, gin, whiskey, brandies, and liqueurs. Visit for more details.

Between the Lakes
Saturday, Jan 30, 11-5, Area wineries, distilleries, etc

Shake off the winter blahs by visiting businesses on the east side of Seneca and west side of Cayuga for wine, spirits, food, and music. No tickets necessary, just plan on having a good time.