338 – Getting Crafty in Upstate New York with Brian McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling


December 30, 2021

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Finger Lakes Distilling since it’s one of the crucial components in Pursuit United. A few months ago, we booked some flights and took our recording gear to upstate New York. We sat down with their president, owner, and former distiller Brian McKenzie. We talk about his journey into whiskey and some of the challenges he faced as a craft distiller. We cover the unique aspects of being a craft distiller with a column still, their incredibly low barrel entry proof, and their infamous wheated bourbon.

Show Partners:

  • Catoctin Creek has been honoring that tradition of small craft rye whisky since 2009. Learn more at CatoctinCreekDistilling.com.
  • Smooth Ambler builds on the traditional roots of American whiskey in West Virginia. Visit SmoothAmbler.com to learn more.
  • Wilderness Trail is Sweet Mash Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Rye Whiskey distilled, aged, and bottled in Danville, Kentucky. Learn more at WildernessTrailDistillery.com.
  • You can now buy Barrell Craft Spirits products online and have them shipped right to your door. Visit BarrellBourbon.com and click Buy Now.
  • Spirits of French Lick is delivering the finest hand crafted Bottled in Bond bourbons. Check out SpiritsofFrenchLick.com.
  • Total Wine and More is wonderland for wine, spirits, and beer lovers! Explore more in store or online at TotalWine.com.
  • Heaven Hill Distillery has been lifting America’s spirit since 1935. Check out educational resources and sign up for their newsletter at HeavenHillDistillery.com.

Show Notes:

  • This week’s Above the Char with Fred Minnick (@fredminnick) talks about how much wood we consume from drinking bourbon.
  • What’s changed since the last time you were on the show?
  • Tell us about your journey in whiskey.
  • Who were your first phone calls to get started in this industry?
  • Peat or no peat?
  • Tell us about your wheated bourbon.
  • What challenges did you face at the beginning being a craft distiller?
  • Talk about your experimentations.
  • Since the wheat is so popular, why not  just focus on that?
  • What’s more fun, finishing or experimenting with mashbills.
  • Tell us about your Master Distiller.
  • Did you have any issues when starting the distillery?
  • Why do craft distillers prefer certain stills?
  • What other spirits are you creating?
  • Talk about your seasoning process and why your barrels look so old after only 4 years.
  • What kind of barrels are you using?
  • Do you think the low entry proof contributes to having better tasting whiskey at a younger age?
  • Where does the big bold fruitiness flavor come from in your bourbon?
  • Tell us about your older aged bourbon that’s coming out.
  • Does lower entry proof have an impact on taxes?
  • What has your distillery done for the local community?
  • Do you get visitors from all over?
  • What are you forecasting for your distillery?
  • @flxdistilling
  • Support this podcast on Patreon

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq0foGfp4Oc]

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