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Finger Lakes Distilling NewsletterSeptember 2012
In This Issue
The Small Barrel Debate
New Batches and Releases
Latest News
Where to get Wahaka Mezcal
New gear at FLD/Barrel Sale
Cocktail Corner
Quick Links


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Upcoming Tastings and Events




Wednesday, Sept 19 


Locust Hill, Rochester

5:30-8 pm  

Monday, Sept. 24
Slow Foods NYC- Spirits of NY
Manhattan, NY
6-8 pm

Thursday, Sept 27


Wine & Pizza Tasting, Traditions at the Glen,

Johnson City

6-9 pm 


Friday, Sept. 28


Hog & Barrel,

Limestone Grille, Fayetteville

6 pm


Sunday, Sept 30 


Flat Iron Wines & Spirits, NYC 

2-5 pm 


Tuesday, Oct 16 

Tasting & Seminar 

Whiskey Tuesdays 

Stella's, Ithaca

9 pm  


October 22-29 

Finger Lakes Restaurant Week


Saturday, Nov 10 


Grand Wine/Spirit Tasting Ryan's Wines & Spirits, Canandaigua

2-5 pm  


Please come out to see us!



Dear Friend of FLD,

This time of year is always a little bitter sweet here in the Finger Lakes. Lake temperatures have peaked, it's back to school for some, and the sun is setting earlier and earlier. Still, there is so much to look forward to - harvest, leaves changing, football season!

We're starting to line up a number of Fall events throughout the state. For those of you downstate, come see us at the 1st NYS Spirits Tasting organized by Slow Foods NYC. We'll be posting all our in-store tastings and other special events on Facebook, so become a fan today.

Be on the lookout for some exciting new product releases over the coming months and some other big news from FLD. We think you'll like what's in the works.

In the meantime, please enjoy this video about our company, produced by the fine people at Finger Lakes Wine Country.

Beyond Wine in Finger Lakes Wine Country
Beyond Wine in Finger Lakes Wine Country

Looking forward to seeing you this Fall!


Brian McKenzie
President, Finger Lakes Distilling

The Small Barrel Aging Debate

Small 10 gallon & Large 53 gallon barrels

Recently, Buffalo Trace Distillery released their outcomes from an experiment; Can quality whiskey be aged in small, 10 gallon barrels in only 6 years?  The end result was deemed unsuccessful. 

As you know, our whiskey does spend some time in small barrels.  We would like to state our position on small barrel aging and share why, at FLD, we think this approach can work.  A  New York Times article recently stated that Finger Lakes Distilling was an exception to typical small barrel aged whiskey. 

There are 4 key steps we take when adding our whiskey spirits to small barrels.

First, unlike many other micro distilleries, we make old fashioned style sour mash bourbon and rye whiskeys.  This process uses some of the spent grains from the previous whiskey run and adds it to the next.  We also use high quality, locally-grown grains for our mash. We only use barley malt for our starch conversions, not commercial enzymes. We feel these steps give the whiskey a great flavor to start and an even more delicious end product.

Second, we distill the mash at a lower proof, allowing for more flavors of the mash to pass through to the "white dog".  If you distill the mash at a higher proof, all the flavor escapes.  We want to keep as much character of our tasty, local grain as possible. This allows for more intense flavors to enter the barrel.

Then, we add distilled water to the McKenzie Rye and Bourbon to lower to 100 proof before putting them into 10 gallon barrels. We believe a higher percentage of water in the whiskey allows it to absorb a different range of flavors from the wood (think vanilla, toffee, maple, etc). Our barrel proof is more in line with what the commercial distillers did 25-30 years ago.

Contrary to the Buffalo Trace experiment, we never age in 10 gallon barrels for more than 2 years. Leaving the whiskey in the small barrels for extended aging will result in bitter, overly-tannic flavors. We also finish our whiskeys in larger barrels for 30-45 days before bottling. The larger barrel allows for greater oxidation of the whiskey. Oxidation is important to allow the spirit to mellow and develop into the flavors you have come to recognize in bourbon and rye.  Another thing to note, is that our small barrels are made from premium air dried and aged wood. We also use different char levels in our barrels than in the study, that work better for us.

What does the future hold for our barrel aged products?  While we are very proud of the whiskey we are pulling out of the 10 gallon barrels, we are even more excited for what is expected from additional aging in standard size barrels.  We will begin bottling from our 53 gallon barrels exclusively in the next 6-12 months. For over 3 years we have been aging rye, bourbon and a wheated bourbon in standard whiskey barrels made from the same wood as our 10 gallon casks.  All are showing fine flavors, similar to our whiskey currently on the market.

Will small barrel aging replace aging in larger barrels?  Not likely. Does small barrel aging have it's place?  You bet it does. Just ask the whiskey drinkers that are visiting FLD, and the bartenders in the high-end bars and restaurants that are utilizing our products. Many of our guests and fans will agree that we are creating some fine McKenzie whiskey! But that is not to say it is the barrel alone that makes a great product, we believe it is our hand-crafted process that makes all the difference.

At FLD, we believe the proof is in the whiskey!

Wait for it...

                  McKenzie Pure Pot Still

                                 Batch #2
McKenzie Pure Pot Still Whiskey  
If you liked our first batch of Irish Style, McKenzie Pure Pot Still Whiskey wait 'til you try this new batch. We smoothed it out a bit more for your sipping pleasure.  Thomas Earl added some oats to the mash bill which gives it a little more depth, as well. Come on over and try it for yourself.
Our next release may come as a surprise to you. We've taken one of our most beloved spirits and tweaked it just a little bit and revised the branding. We're excited to tell you more, but have to wait until next month's newsletter. Good things take time!

Also, be on the lookout for a new product later this fall, probably around Thanksgiving. We're not giving away any more info than that, but let's just say the smell of grapes in the Finger Lakes air is getting us pretty excited for it.   
In case you missed it...
You may have seen FLD featured on a YNN segment from the Getaway Guy recently. If not, check it out here.

FLD wins Gold and Best NYS Spirit at the NYS Wine & Grape Foundation Wine & Food Classic

"Rolling out a Smaller Barrel Sooner," New York Times Clay Risen
 adds insight to continued discussions about small barrel aging.

See how good McKenzie Rye whiskey is on, where they toast the rye comeback. 

Rated exceptional by the  Beverage Tasting Institute, the full line up of Wahaka Mezcals.

Spilling the "beets" on Brooklyn Brine's recipe for Rosemary Pickled Beets- using FLD's Seneca Drums Gin? Joanna Sciarrino gives it away on Bon's  Jessica Ritz travels to the Finger Lakes region and includes FLD on her tour.

Seneca Drums Gin: pulling together the old & the new

Where to Get Wahaka Mezcal

We've had several visitors ask if they can buy Wahaka Mezcal at the distillery.  Unfortunately, our Farm Distillery license only allows us to sell spirits produced from New York State agricultural products.  Fortunately, we have some great retailers within a short drive from FLD that would be happy to sell you a bottle.  Please inquire at your next visit or you can place an online order at

New Gear at FLD

flowers in 10 gallon barrel
September Barrel Sale
During September, we are offering our 10 gallon whiskey barrels for $80 each (normally $91/ea).  They have many uses, such as flower planters, aging beer, wine or sauerkraut, furniture and the list goes on... Hurry and get yours before they are all gone.
Muranda Cheese we sell  
Muranda Cheese
We just recently started offering Muranda Cheese at FLD.  We are excited to offer a variety of flavors that pair well with our spirits. Stop in and try them for yourself.   

Located just up the road in Waterloo, NY, Muranda Cheese House is one stop on the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail that you wouldn't want to miss.  Recipient of the "Dairy of Distinction" and "Super Milk" awards, they carefully select quality ingredients that represent our region to the finest. Stop by FLD and give them a try!

big flask

Enormous Flask 

Thirsty? Try this giant 1 gallon customized FLD flask for your  drinking or decorating pleasure.  It is sure to be a hit at your next party!  $40 each. 
Cheers, See You Soon!
Cocktail Corner 


Summer Sunset

Contributed by Marina Lizarralde 

Summerset Cocktail   

2 oz Vintner's Vodka

2 oz Orange Juice (or Blood Orange Juice)

oz Blood Orange Bitters (we used Stirring's) 

Top with Citrus Seltzer of choice


In a shaker combine Vodka, Orange Juice, and Blood Orange Bitters. Add ice, shake, and strain into a glass. Top with seltzer water.




Dulce Diablo 
Created by Erick Rodriguez  
Contributed by
way of Alejandro (Alex) Santa-Cruz, Wahaka Mezcal 


Mezcal Dulce Diablo

1 1/2 oz. Wahaka Mezcal Joven Espadin 
2 oz. Orange Juice 
2 oz. Grapefruit Juice 
2 oz. Pomegranate Juice 
1/2 oz. Lime 
1/4 oz. Agave Nectar 
Chili powder

Shake all the juices with ice cubes until these start to foam. Add the chili powder on top of the foam 
garnish glass with grapefruit, orange and lime wedges.




Now it's your turn to experiment with FLD spirits!


 Please send us your ideas for cocktails using our products. With your permission, we may feature your cocktail in a future newsletter. If selected, we'll send you an FLD hat or T-shirt.

Want to know more about our spirits? Just visit Our Products for details and tasting notes on our gin, vodka, whiskey, brandy, fruit liqueurs and other products.