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, we have immediate access to the crop of one of the best grape-growing regions in the country. We even have our own vineyard in front of the distillery. The Finger Lakes region is also home to quite a few small farms, from which we get our corn, rye, barley, and the other grains and fruits that we use to make our premium spirits.
Finger Lakes Distilling is a NYS Farm Distillery, which means that we’re a small operation making a handcrafted product. It also means we’re able to devote all our attention to everything we make; we don’t take any shortcuts. Our flavored vodkas and liqueurs are made in the traditional manner, by soaking real fruits in the spirit. We don’t add extracts or synthetic flavoring to speed up the process. Our whiskies rest in oak barrels for as long as they need to, until they mature into the rich aged spirit we offer with pride.