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Finger Lakes Distilling NewsletterApril 2013
In This Issue
Derby Party
New Still
Manhattan Cocktail Classic
Wine Tourism Day
Employment Opportunities
In Memory - Sadie Lady
Cocktail Corner
Quick Links


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Tastings and Events



Thursday, April 18

Food & Wine Festival

Roberson Museum & Science Center, Binghamton

5:30-8:30 pm 


Saturday, May 4

Kentucky Derby Party

Finger Lakes Distilling  


5 pm


Saturday, May 11

Wine Tourism Day

Tours of FLD

11 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Call for reservations  


Sunday, May 12

Mother's Day

FREE tasting for all Mothers 


May 17-21

Manhattan Cocktail Classic Manhattan  


June 14-15

Owego Strawberry Festival

FLD Tastings


Friday, June 14


Wright's Liquors

Watkins Glen

4-7 pm


Saturday, June 15


Lighthouse Liquors


3-6 pm 


July 12-14

Finger Lakes Wine Festival 


July 17-21

Tales of the Cocktail   

Please come out to see us!




Dear Friend of FLD:

Thomas and I just returned from a very eventful trip out to Kentucky. We inspected the new still and made a few final tweaks to the design - it's set to ship this week! Of course, we also managed to hit up a number of distilleries while out that way.

The next week will be spent prepping for the still to arrive and then installing it in its new home adjacent to our existing potstill and rectification column. We hope to have everything in place by the end of April.

I hope you'll consider joining us for our Annual Kentucky Derby Party on May 4th. If you're interested, CALL US SOON as we only have a few spots remaining.

If you can't make it that day, but would like to get an in-depth tour of our facilities, please plan on visiting us on May 11th. As part of the Finger Lakes Wine Tourism Day, FLD will be offering 2 daily tours at 11 am and 12 pm. Reservations will be required by calling 607.546.5510. The tour is $11/pp and includes tour, tasting, and FLD Glencairn Whiskey Glass. We'll also be offering free tastings to all Mothers that Sunday (5/12) to say "Happy Mother's Day!"

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic is also just around the corner. We've got a few FLD-sponsored events going on that weekend, so if you're in the metro-NY area, please come out to see us.

Finally, we're starting to look for some help in our tasting room for the tourist season. If you've got an interest in handcrafted spirits and would like to join an energetic, fun-loving team, please send us your resume.

All the best,

Brian McKenzie
President, Finger Lakes Distilling



If you haven't reserved your spot for our Kentucky Derby party, call 607.546.5510 today. We don't have many tickets left and this year's party is going to be better than ever.

Things kick off right at 5 pm. We'll have some delicious FLD cocktails and craft beers from Rooster Fish. Heavy hors d'oeuvres will be served by our own John Pulos and Table for Two. Enjoy some traditional Bluegrass tunes from the Notorious Stringbusters.

We'll show the race on the big screen and have some fun, charitable contests to keep things interesting. We'll also be offering tours of our facility, and will include a great description of our new still and the wonderful smells from our barrel house. Thomas Earl will lead the way (translator available upon request).

Though it's not mandatory, we encourage you to come in your best Derby attire. We'll have a prize for "Best Dressed" and - (NEW THIS YEAR) - will have an opportunity for you to take home some photos of this momentous occasion.

Hope to see you on May 4th!


Status Update - New Still
Brian & Thomas just returned from Kentucky to finalize everything on our new addition. The still isn't far behind them and will be arriving at FLD this week. We're very excited to get everything up and running so we can increase our whiskey production.

Here are some photos of the new still:

The new still is only 12 inches in diameter, but will tower over our existing still at almost 25 feet tall.

A Vendome employee attaches the base to the bottom of the still.

The 50 gallon copper thumper.

The distillation process will be quite different with this still, but should make some fine whiskey. Here are Thomas Earl's thoughts on the matter:

Last year we decided we needed to increase our capacity for whiskey production, so we went down and spoke to Vendome Copper & Brass Works. They service all the big distilleries in the country. We decided on a continuous still, just like all the major producers use for bourbon and rye, but we made some tweaks to the design, so it would make a more old-fashioned style product. Our existing still is a batch still, meaning you have to charge it with a batch of whiskey mash, distill the alcohol off, and then get rid of the spent grains. With the new still, we can make whiskey continuously as long as we have whiskey mash available to distill, greatly increasing our production.


So the new still is referred to as a beer still and thumper. We'll keep our taste profile consistent with our current whiskies by running whiskey off the new still at a lower proof. This leaves more flavor in the white dog, which interacts with the barrel to make very rich tasting whiskey. The new still is a 12 inch column, 25 feet tall. It has perforated trays in it all the way from top to bottom. The beer is pumped up into the still through what is called a beer heater, where it is heated from vapor produced in the still. The mash is then fed into the side of the column onto the top stripping tray. Live steam is fed into the bottom of the still. As the beer works its way down the still, plate by plate, the live steam strips the alcohol and flavor from the beer and the vapors continue to climb to the top of the still. They pass through a solid copper rectification section which refines the spirit, then into a solid copper Thumper. The Thumper is called so because of the thumping sound it makes as it operates. It is a pot still that lets the vapors pass through uncondensed. They loose some heat and impurities in the thumper, thus giving it an effective redistillation, but it leaves a lot of flavor behind. Then the vapor passes through a copper condenser, turning back into liquid. The liquid (white dog) then enters the tail box, where the proof is checked and a sample can be pulled by the distiller to make sure the flavor and aroma is correct.


There are some people in the micro-distilling industry that claim that Potstills make better whiskey than Continuous Stills. They claim that it takes the "craft" out of the process, but we disagree completely. We'll still be handcrafting our products and fermentation will still take place in small batches to control quality. I will continue to distill by making manual adjustments to everything based on what I'm smelling in the white dog coming off the still. We believe that the new still will produce just as good a product as we have been producing on our Potstill. I have a hunch that the product will get even better. A Continuous Still and Thumper will strip less taste out of the white dog than our Potstill did, giving us a richer, more flavorful product in the bottle."




Join FLD at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic

We're making a big splash this year at arguably the best cocktail event of the year. The MCC kicks off on Friday, May 17 at NYC's iconic New York Public Library.


On Sunday, Finger Lakes Distilling is pairing up with Blue Hill NYC for an afternoon discussion on the agricultural aspects of distilling. The seminar will include a panel discussion featuring Brian & Thomas and conclude with a cocktail reception featuring our spirits with food pairings. Only a few spots remain, so...


We're collaborating with Doug Miller of the Culinary Institute of America to host a trade-only seminar on pairing homemade sodas with craft spirits on Monday afternoon.

Please call us at the distillery, if you have any questions about these events.


Finger Lakes Wine Tourism Day -



Finger Lakes Distilling is offering exclusive distillery tours & tastings on Saturday, May 11.


11am and 12pm


Come explore the inner workings of FLD.  Learn where we get our ingredients, how the still works, and who does the bottling. Master Distiller Thomas Earl will entertain and educate you with his southern wit as he takes you on the journey through our farm-to-bottle distillation process.   


$11 includes tour, tasting, and souvenir Glencairn whiskey glass.


Reservations required, tours limited to 18.


Call today to reserve your spot. 607-546-5510 



Come Join the FLD Team


We're anticipating a very busy tourism season at Finger Lakes Distilling and need your help! Please send your resume to if you are interested in working in a fun, fast-paced environment. We host visitors from all over the world and want to make sure they have a great time tasting our spirits and learning about our processes.  We're looking for individuals that are energetic and customer-focused to work in the FLD tasting room. Interest and knowledge of spirits and the distillation process is a plus, but not required.  



In memory - Sadie Lady, our Distillery Dog -



We lost our 14 year old Gordon Setter, Sadie, this past month. Sadie was a fixture at the distillery in our first couple of years. She'd eagerly greet guests at the front door and then blend in with our reclaimed lumber floors, only to get stepped on when she got tired out. She had to retire from the distillery several months ago when her failing hips made it difficult to travel into work. She helped sell a lot of FLD liquor over the years and will be greatly missed.


Cocktail Corner

Bourbon Blossom

1.5 oz. McKenzie Bourbon Whiskey
0.5 oz. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
0.5 oz. Lemon Juice
0.25 oz. Simple Syrup
2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Place martini glass in freezer. Carefully peel a lemon, keeping it all in one piece. Twist the lemon peel into a flower shape. Place in the bottom of the martini glass and put back in the freezer. In a shaker, combine bourbon, St. Germain, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake with ice and strain into the chilled martini glass with the lemon bloom.

Mint Julep



2 oz. McKenzie Bourbon Whiskey
oz Simple Syrup
5 Mint Leaves
1 Mint Sprig, to garnish


Muddle mint and syrup in a in julep cup or rocks glass. Fill with crushed ice and add Bourbon. Stir, Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.






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.