I have now visited a handful of craft distilleries here in Rochester, NY and all of them kept telling me how I need to see what is going on at Iron Smoke. That is saying something when the “competition” (although they are all doing widely different things) urges you to go to a specific distillery while I was still in town. So I got the head distiller’s phone number, cold called him and he agreed to meet. The distillery is called Iron Smoke and they are making, in the words of northern Cali, hella good whiskey!
Iron Smoke is located right along the Erie Canal in Fairport, NY. They originally were distilling and renting space from a winery in Seneca Falls. That is actually how Drew Wescott, the head distiller and my tour guide, came to be with Iron Smoke. He was working at Montezuma Winery and met the Iron Smoke team there. He was learning how to distill on the job and has become the expert on how to get this applewood, smoke taste. In 2014 Iron Smoke grew into their own space and have been in the Fairport location ever since. The space is of good size and not only do they produce here, but this is also where all barrel aging happens.
The first thing you see when you drive up is the infamous smoker that gives all their whiskey its distinct taste, along with silos and the careful watch dog beagle of the head distiller. Not only is he a good guard dog, he is also a nice secretary and to get through you have to offer belly rubs. Once inside you will see all of the aging barrels and your eyes immediately go to the Vendome Still in the back. The Iron Smoke team was very adamant to do everything domestically if possible. Vendome Copper & Brass Works is based in Louisville, KY. http://vendomecopper.com/ . You will see in a previous post that Vendome also has Copper & Kings as a client.
They are similar to other New York State Craft distilleries where they get all of their grains locally. The corn is from a farm in Savannah, NY and their wheat from Lodi, NY in the Finger Lakes. Their capacity has grown tremendously this year and they are at about 4500 cases per month. The focus of the Iron Smoke team has always been on whiskey. Unlike many distilleries who dabble in vodka, gin and moonshine to get some cash flow and product lines going, Iron Smoke only wants and only will make Whiskey. Currently they have two brands- Rosie’s Apple Pie Whiskey and their staple, Apple Wood Smoked whiskey. I was told though that they have quite a few things up their sleeve. Currently they have a bourbon that has been aging for almost 4 years on the way. Not only are more products in the works, but also they have plans to eventually open a tasting room in their Fairport Location.
At the end of the tour I was fortunate enough to try the infamous Apple Wood Smoked Whiskey and I would highly recommend it! Below is a list of distribution locations. I bought a bottle for my Memorial Day weekend family party! A good glass of whiskey definitely helps with the pain in my leg.
PS- My surgery is on Thursday!
Tasting Notes for “Iron Smoke Apple Wood Smoked Whiskey”
NOSE: Golden honey, maple syrup, campfire smoke, red, ripe apple, slight oak
PALATE: Candy Apple, honey, nutty finish with slight smoke
Very easy to drink! I drank it neat with a dash of water. Enjoy!