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Finger Lakes Distilling NewsletterNovember 2013
In This Issue
Black Friday
NY Distillers Guild
NY Honey
In the News
Cocktail Corner
Quick Links


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Tastings and Events


Saturday, November 23
Lighthouse Liquors
12-3 pm

Thursday, November 28

Friday, November 29
Alternative Black Friday Experience at FLD
11-5 pm

Saturday, November 30
Small Business Saturday

Sunday, December 1
Holiday Tasting
Lighthouse Liquors
12-4 pm

Wednesday, December 4
Triphammer Wines & Liquors An Evening to Remember
(to benefit the Alzheimer's Association)
Trip Hotel, Ithaca
5:30-9 pm

Thursday, December 5
Fairview Wines & Spirits
4-6 pm

Thursday, December 5
Village Voice Holiday Tasting Event
Long Island City, Queens
7:30-10:30 pm

Friday, December 13
GCP Liquors
4-7 pm

Saturday, December 14
Triphammer Wines & Liquors
3-6 pm

Wednesday, December 18
Watkins Glen Wine & Spirits
Watkins Glen
4-7 pm 

December 24 & 25

Please come out to see us!



Dear Friend of FLD:

As the tourism season slows down, it's been nice to catch our breath over the past week or so to get caught up on production and the piles of paperwork that are associated with our business. The break will be short-lived, however, as we are entering the busy holiday retail season.

Several of our staff members have been on the road trying to spread the word about FLD at tastings, spirits dinners, and other events. There are several more in the works - please check the sidebar for all of the great opportunities to come out and sample our spirits.

Thomas Earl is helping make whiskey at Mt. Vernon this week, at George Washington's re-created distillery. This is the second time we've been invited to participate. The first time was to distill Peach Brandy, which I understand is now ready for the bottle. We'll recap Thomas's experience in our next newsletter.

If you're in the area for Thanksgiving, please come out to see us on Black Friday. You can read all the details below. I guaranty you'll enjoy visiting us that day to sample our spirits, some great local beer from Abandon Brewing, and other artisan food products. We'll also have live music and free tours of our facility that day.

Please read on for all the other exciting things going on here at FLD. 


Brian McKenzie
Finger Lakes Distilling   

Black Friday at Finger Lakes Distilling

Over the past 3 or 4 years, visiting Finger Lakes Distilling on the Friday after Thanksgiving has become a tradition for many that are back in the area for the holiday weekend. We've found that there are a lot of you that are looking to get out and about (and maybe start some holiday shopping), but want no part of the madness that can be found at the big box stores or shopping malls.


This year, we've added to the fun. Start the day at our Bloody Mary bar where we'll be mixing up mini-Bloody Marys with our Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey and White Pike Whiskey. We'll have live music from the Purple Valley Band from 1-5 pm. Abandon Brewing Co will be pouring samples of their local brews and we'll also be sampling some local food products like pulled pork with Murder Mike's BBQ Sauce and Brooklyn Brine pickles.  


Free tours of our facility will be offered at 12, 1, and 2 pm - please call 607.546.5510 x200 to reserve your spot. Of course, you'll also be able to sample our full line of spirits and take home as many bottles and merchandise as your vehicle will accommodate.


Come join us for a great day at FLD!!!



Vodka Week at FLD

Last week was Vodka Week at Finger Lakes Distilling.  Over 6,000 gallons of local Catawba juice was recently delivered to the distillery where Master Distiller Thomas Earl McKenzie and Assistant Distiller Gerard McCall quickly placed it in our fermentation tanks, after which our own yeast was added.  It quickly "fermented out" and was ready for our new 25' continuous column still.  Those visiting the distillery last week watched the fermented Catawba juice become brandy as it passed through the tall still at 140 proof.   




Many visitors to our tasting room think that vodka must be made from potatoes.  Vodka can actually be distilled from any starch or sugar-rich plant matter, such at the potato based vodkas of Poland, but most vodkas today are produced from grains such as corn, rye or wheat. You will also find vodkas which are made from molasses, soybeans, rice, yams, apples, honey, maple syrup, and the Finger Lakes grapes that are used to produce our Vintner's Vodka. The use of grapes (or other fruits, vegetables, or sugars) does not mean that it is a flavored vodka, it merely signifies that it is the base substance used to create the vodka.  


After the initial run through our continuous still, the Catawba brandy is then utilized in several different ways.  Some will go into our used whiskey barrels to become an aged brandy.  You will taste this in about 4 years.   Much of the brandy will undergo a second distillation in our rectification column raising the proof to above 190, thus becoming vodka. Since classic grain-based vodka has no distinct taste, a difference in the various brands is their texture on the tongue, or mouth feel.  At Finger Lakes Distilling, our grape based vodka not only produces a distinctive flavor, but provides a very pleasant, silky mouth feel.


Some of the vodka we'll be producing will be bottled as regular Vintner's Vodka; some will become our popular Wild Berry Vodka.   Flavored vodkas have flooded the market today. Some flavored vodkas are produced using the infusion method of steeping the ingredients, such as real fruits and herbs, in finished vodka, and then redistilling. Many vodkas, however, simply add flavoring ingredients - like chemical extracts - to the vodka.  At Finger Lakes Distilling, our Wild Berry Vodka is created by steeping local raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries in our grape-based Vintner's Vodka.  No artificial ingredients will ever be used. Don't look for any cupcake or whipped cream flavored vodkas from FLD anytime soon - they can only be produced with artificial flavorings.


Our versatile vodka does not stop there.   Some will be used as the base ingredient to create our award winning gins, and some will be the neutral spirit which is used to create our fruit liqueurs.


New York Distillers Guild Forms

Brian McKenzie Voted Vice President of New Organization  

The young craft distilling industry in NYS took a major step forward last month with the official formation of the New York Distillers Guild. The Guild is composed of roughly 30 distilleries throughout the state and its purpose is to promote the industry and improve the regulatory and legislative environment for our businesses.

Our owner, Brian McKenzie, was elected to serve as Vice President of the Guild. In this capacity, Brian recently attended a meeting in Albany to discuss the future of farm-based beverages (beer, wine, spirits and cider) in NYS. The meeting was a follow-up to the highly publicized Beer, Wine & Spirits Summit that was hosted by Governor Cuomo last year. The administration has been very supportive of our industry by encouraging regulatory reform and use of state funds to promote our growth.

New Product - Catskill Provisions Honey Rye

FLD has partnered with another like-minded artisan food producer to create an amazing new product. The company, Catskill Provisions,
is located in a small corner of the Northwest Catskill Mountains. Catskill Provisions specializes in creating all-natural handmade food products while subscribing to the philosophy that a thriving society makes use of the closest resources around it. You'll find several wonderful products under the Catskill Provisions brand including maple syrup, sauces and marinades, and some of the best pancake mix we've ever tried (available in our gift shop).

Catskill Provisions also manages over 700 bee hives in upstate NY and in NYC. The honey produced from these hives is the basis for our collaboration for New York Honey. We start with our award-winning McKenzie Rye which is infused with late-summer honey from Catskill Provisions. It makes for a smooth, wonderfully complex spirit with rich notes of toffee, vanilla and smoky spice.

Of course, Thomas Earl has to throw in his 2 cents: "We took some of our very best rye, combined it with lovely, flowery honey to produce a slightly sweet, spicy drink. Good for what ails you. This stuff is the bees knees. That is if bees drank rye."

New York Honey is now available in our tasting room to taste and purchase ($45 for a 750 ml bottle). It works well in cocktails - see below - or is great to just sip on during the cold winter months ahead.

Stay tuned to our blog this week, where Catskill Provisions owner, Claire Marin, will be guest blogging about her company and this collaboration.  

In case you missed it... 

Lot's of good press this month - check it out:

Suzanne Russo's recap of her visit to the Finger Lakes included a nice mention of her stop at FLD, which appeared in the Huffington Post.

Look out Kentucky, the Yanks are coming! Wine Enthusiast listed 7 NYS whiskeys for you to try.

Be sure to pick up the most recent copy of Edible Finger Lakes. It includes Amelia Sauter's interview of Brian McKenzie about our Cassis Liqueur.

Zachary Feldman from the Village Voice was in attendance at the spirits dinner at the Farm on Adderly. Apparently, he was impressed.

And last, but not least, give a read to what Markets Media had to say about White Pike Whiskey.

Cocktail Corner
Universal Traveler

from Trey Bliss, The Farm on Adderley, Brooklyn 
 Our first cocktail this month was featured at our spirits dinner at the Farm on Adderley. It's perfect for this season and paired nicely with an introductory course of apples and peppers.
  • 1 oz. McKenzie Pure Potstill Whiskey 
  • 0.5 oz. Ceylon Tea Simple Syrup
  • 0.5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice  
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Pumpkin Ale (we used Penn Brewing's Pumpkin Roll Ale)  


To make the simple syrup, boil demerara sugar in water at a 50/50 ratio. Add 3 heaping spoons of Ceylon (or a similar strong black tea) and let it seep hot. Strain after 10 minutes.

For the cocktail, shake all ingredients with ice and strain into champagne flute. Top with pumpkin beer. 


Cranberry Champagne Cocktail

Start your Thanksgiving celebration right with this delicious champagne cocktail.





Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice (except the sparkling wine). Shake and strain into a flute. Top off with sparkling wine and garnish with cranberries.




The Honey Do  
from Claire Marin, Catskill Provisions
  • 2 oz. New York Honey
  • 1 oz. Fino Sherry 
  • 0.5 oz. Raw Wildflower Honey 
  • 0.5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice  
  • 0.5 in. Cube of Raw Honeycomb   

Place honeycomb in the bottom of an old fashioned glass.Add remaining ingredients to shaker with ice and shake vigorously.  Strain into glass on top of honeycomb. 







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.