Finger Lakes Distilling in Grape World.
It's officially three weeks since surgery, so I snuck away without my parents knowing for the 1 hour 45 minute drive to the Finger Lakes. I had a plan to go to the Finger Lakes Distillery and Myer Farm Distillery. Well, I only made it to Finger Lakes, because I got tired and my back started to hurt—woopsies!
Anyway, the building was awesome! I love seeing the vineyards that the Finger Lakes are infamous for. Finger Lakes Distillery is located on Seneca Lake in Burdett, NY. According to my tasting guide, Glen from Elmira, a banker named Brian McKenzie decided he would open a distillery in his favorite wine region. He linked up with unrelated Thomas McKenzie and bam, you have a distillery making whiskey under the name of “McKenzie” of course.
They have 6 whiskeys and a lot of other gift related items. I do have to say they have some really cool bottles for the white pike whiskey, but I wasn’t a fan of the McKenzie bottles.
The one's I tasted are bold….
1. White Pike Whiskey
Not as alcohol-y as I expected. Probably good for mixing, grainy finish, smells like corn and is made of corn!
2. McKenzie Bourbon Whiskey
Charred new oak barrels and then finished in chardonnay casks making it buttery. This one was 70% corn and 20% rye while the rest is malted and aged 3 years. At first I thought it was oily, but then I knew that was wrong and kept my mouth shut. Now in hind-site maybe I was tasting something from the chardonnay casks. It was medium charred, dark fruits, woody, raisins, cinnamon raisin bread.
3. McKenzie Rye
This is apparently the winner of all awards. It also was featured in the Whiskey Advocate magazine in 2014. I could tell right away the reason it was featured was because of the smell. You smell blackberries, some wood, and a mix of other ripe berries. It tasted like honey with a berry finish. I tasted sherry on the palate too which luckily made sense once Glen told me it is aged a few years in new oak casks, but then spends the last 60 days in sherry casks. My palate finally served me right!
4. Specialty Cask Strength Bourbon Bottle #492
I thought I was bonding and a special guest with Glen when he offered me to try this limited bottling, but then I saw him offer it to the elderly man next to me so I guess I wasn’t!
Anyway, I found it to be aromatic, almost perfume like, pear etc. Definitely felt more age than some of the others I tried. Palate was jammed fruits, wood, oak, fig newton, aged plum and kind of a tart finish.
5. Glen Thunder Corn Whiskey- Un-aged
6. McKenzie Pot still- Combo of un-malted/malted barley. Aged in bourbon barrels.
*Bourbon can’t be aged in an already used barrels. One of the many rules of naming something bourbon. Similar to how Cognac can only be from the Cognac region and has rules on how it can be made. Read # 2 in the cool list below the link.
7. Catskill Honey Rye- Infused with Honey. Sounds too sweet to me, but didn’t try.
They definitely knew what they were doing by being in the wine region. It is surrounded by already popular wineries and right on the tour trail. From the tasting room you can see into the distillery along with the one pot and column still. Pretty cool, but not much was going on when I visited. They had the whole coaster, towels with logos etc. like all the wineries do so hoarders can have more stuff. I was hoping for it be a little more eclectic and not match its neighbors.
They are still quite young. Opened around 2007 and 2014 was their big year. Their Rye put them on the map by being featured in “Whisky Advocate”. They have won a bunch of different awards if you want to check them out. All the different kinds of awards can get confusing after a while, but good for them! I learned something new from Glen though. In New York State you cannot have more than three distilled spirits tasting samples at one location. This obviously because of how strong they are. Although my last tasting note was #4 for me. Rule breaker right here!