New bourbon: McKenzie, Batch #1April 28th, 2010
The craft distillers continue cranking out new whiskeys. The newest from Finger Lakes Distilling, a bourbon, releases this Saturday. Details below.
In so many ways, it’s a good time to be a whiskey drinker.
MCKENZIE BOURBON BATCH #1 AVAILABLE MAY 1
Finger Lakes Distilling’s Locally-made Whiskey Makes Its Debut Just in Time for the Kentucky Derby
It’s a common misconception that Bourbon can only come from Kentucky. While the state puts out most of the Bourbon on the market, there are several distilleries in other parts of the U.S. making America’s Spirit. Starting May 1, a local distillery will begin selling a New York Bourbon that hopes to rival the best from Kentucky.
Finger Lakes Distilling, the first standalone distillery in the region, began production in late 2008 and selling unaged spirits such as vodka, gin, and liqueurs in June 2009. The distillery’s 300 gallon still has also been churning out lots of whiskey including an unaged Corn Whiskey, Rye (released November 2009), and now, Bourbon.
As a NYS Farm Distillery, Finger Lakes Distilling makes use of NY fruit and grains in all of its products. The same holds true for McKenzie Bourbon. The corn, which makes up about 70% of the Bourbon mash bill is an organic, open-pollinated variety grown near Penn Yan, NY that contributes to the rich taste of the whiskey.
McKenzie Bourbon is a true handcrafted product, as Finger Lakes Distilling retains control of all aspects of the whiskey-making process. Raw grain (corn, rye and barley malt) is transported to the facility where it is milled and cooked in one of two small mash kettles. Fermentation takes place in open top stainless tanks. The whiskey mash is double pot-distilled in small batches before it goes through a unique aging process, including the use of new charred American oak barrels and local Chardonnay barrels for finishing. The end result is a robust and old-fashioned tasting Bourbon.
The founders of the distillery argue over who the whiskey is named after. Brian McKenzie, President, started the company in the area in which he was born and raised. Another McKenzie, Thomas Earl, joined right from the beginning as Master Distiller, though no relation to Brian. “Everyone assumes we are brothers, and even though there are some similarities, we come from very different backgrounds. Just hearing Thomas Earl’s southern Alabama drawl will make you think he might know a thing or two about whiskey-making,” says Brian. “Thomas learned the trade from his family – he claims it was bred into him.” He has also worked in breweries, wineries and consulted for other small distilleries. Brian, a former banker, focuses on the financial, marketing, and legal aspects of the business.
Initially, McKenzie Bourbon will only be sold at the distillery’s tasting room overlooking Seneca Lake, just 5.5 miles north of Watkins Glen, NY. The bourbon will be priced at $45 and each 750 ml bottle will be marked with a batch number.
The distillery will host a Bourbon Release party on May 1, Kentucky Derby Day. Visitors wearing Derby hats will receive complimentary tastings and there will be live music from 2-5 p.m. Finger Lakes Distilling customers will also be able to attend a private reception following regular business hours to celebrate the release and watch the Kentucky Derby.
Visitors can also sample and purchase the full range of Finger Lakes Distilling’s products including Vintner’s Vodka, Vintner’s Wildberry Vodka, Seneca Drums Gin, Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey, and a wide range of liqueurs and grappa.
Finger Lakes Distilling products are also available at over 130 retail locations throughout NYS. “We’ve been focused primarily in our region, but have also had some success moving product into the metro-NY area,” says Brian. “We’re passionate about all our spirits, but as a couple of whiskey guys, we couldn’t be happier to have some bourbon ready for the bottle.”
More information about the distillery can be found at www.fingerlakesdistilling.com.