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     THE YOUNG GUNS ON THE WHISKEY TRAIL red logo
BY CHRIS POH

"Two hundred gallons of Whiskey will be ready this day for your call, and the sooner it is taken the better,
as the demand for this article (in these parts) is brisk."


                        -Letter from George Washington to his nephew, Col. William A. Washington, 1799                   
                                                                                     
Even a cursory read of history might lead one to the conclusion that the road to America’s revolution was partially paved with the production of colonial potables. The records indicate that Royal governors enticed the farmers and frontiersmen with the promise of free spirits if they would agree to drill and form militias. The watchword of the day may have been, “Keep your powder dry and your whistle wet.” It was the hope of the English Crown that an army of adept citizen soldiers would lessen the burden and expense of having a large force of British regulars providing for the security of North America. What the government had failed to realize was that they had unwittingly sharpened the same sword that would eventually sever their grip on the American colonies.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of reasonably priced libations helped to spur on the minutemen at Lexington and Concord. The Sugar Act of 1769, which taxed molasses imported from the West Indies, along with the destruction and blockades of New England Ports by the British Navy hastened the demise of the once prosperous rum industry. In response colonial distillers turned to the use of native crops, such as corn and rye, as the chief source of fermentable products. This homegrown approach appealed to an aspiring nation’s patriotic zeal, and the common cause of every Continental soldier was bolstered and fortified by a ration of 4 ounces of whiskey per day.

In 1794, eleven years after the formal cessation of hostilities between Great Britain and America, the interesting relationship between the flintlock and the copper pot was put to the test once more. Federal troops, under the personal command of then President George Washington, who himself would become one of the most prolific distillers in the country, ventured into western Pennsylvania to suppress the insurrection against the congressional tax on alcohol. While it is probably more a matter of myth than fact, there are some historians that claim the “Whiskey Rebellion” led to the establishment of the southern distilling tradition. The rationale was that producers in the southern states and frontier territories could more easily evade Federal authority, and thus avoid paying the unpopular tax which was eventually repealed in 1803. No matter what the facts may bear, the vast majority of stops along “America’s Whiskey Trail” are all below the Mason-Dixon Line. Perhaps with the emergence of the new micro-distillery movement that will all change. My first recommendation for a fresh place to tipple on the tour would definitely be FINGER LAKES DISTILLING.



Barrels at Finger Lakes Distilling in Burdett, NY as seen in American Public House Review
BARRELS AT FINGERLAKES DISTILLING IN BURDETT, NEW YORK



Seneca lake as seen in American Public House Review
SENECA LAKE




Finger lakes Distillery as seen in American Public House Review
THE DISTILLERY CERTAINLY ADDS TO THE EXQUISITE CHARM OF THE FINGER LAKES REGION




Located in the heart of New York State’s celebrated wine region, the distillery sits atop a vine covered slope overlooking the sublime eastern shore of Seneca Lake. Here Brian and Thomas Earl McKenzie are redefining the distiller’s craft. Though springing from two entirely different family trees, both men are commonly rooted in the belief and practice of making truly remarkable spirits. The recently released McKenzie Rye is an outstanding example of this dedication to the production of classic American Whiskies.


Brain and Thomas Earl McKenzie of Finger Lakes Distilling in Burdett, NY as seen in American Public House Review
 THOMAS EARL (in plaid shirt) AND BRIAN McKENZIE


It was a cloudy fall afternoon when my wife and I arrived at the distillery; we both were looking forward to a sip of anything that might effectively combat the chill of early November. I already had the pleasure of a pre-release sample of the rye via an encounter in Philadelphia with Lew Bryson, the managing editor of the Malt Advocate. I was hoping to meet the creators of this unique spirit, but unfortunately both McKenzies were attending a gathering of industry aficionados in New York City. My meanderings through the myriad of medicinal offerings would be entrusted to one Meryl Bursic; someone who I initially thought was too young to have acquired a working knowledge of quality drink. That misconception was put to rest rather quickly. During the next two hours her energy, enthusiasm and expertise guided us through a tasting and tutelage of gin, vodka, brandy, grappa, and the distinctive Glen Thunder corn whiskey – thanks to Miss Bursic, November’s chill had been conquered.

Meryl’s youthful exuberance is by no means a fluke at this operation; Brian and Thomas Earl McKenzie have just barely cleared thirty. This infusion of creative young talent bodes well for the future of the micro-distilling industry. And at a time when so many Americans question our ability to produce quality products from within our own shores, we can take great pride in knowing that in the Finger Lakes the art of making craft spirits is in exceedingly good hands! The spirit of pride and the creative talent at this remarkable distillery can be felt reverberating from the funkiest t-shirt shop on Lake Seneca to the most efficient answering service center in Los Angeles, California.





Interior of Finger Lakes Distillery in Burdett, NY as seenin American Public House Review
THE TASTING ROOM.  FINGER LAKES DISTILLING IS AN ASSOCIATE MEMBER OF THE SENECA LAKE WINE TRAIL. FORTY PLUS WINERIES, A BREWER OR TWO, AND NOW THIS FINE DISTILLER TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE UNIQUE MICRO-CLIMATE CREATED BY SENECA LAKE. 


Meryl Bursic of FingerLakes Distilling in Burdett, NY as een in American Public House Review
MERYL BURSIC
The still at Finger Lakes Distillery in Burdett, NY as seen in American Public House Review
  FINGER LAKES' CENTERPIECE IS THE GIANT POT STILL AND RECTIFICATION COLUMN MADE BY HOLSTEIN IN MARKDORF, GERMANY



McKenzie Rye Whisky from Finger Lakes Distillery as seen in American Public House Review
OUTSTANDING WHISKEY! THE RYE FLAVOR IS EXTRAORDINARY.







Logo of Finger Lakes Distillery in Burdett, NY as seen in American Public House Review
FLD




FINGER LAKES DISTILLING


4676 NEW YORK STATE ROUTE 414

BURDETT, NEW YORK 14818


607-546-5510


www.fingerlakesdistilling.com


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