The Finger Lakes Distilling story begins in 2007, when Brian McKenzie of Elmira, N.Y., met Thomas Earl McKenzie of Monroeville, Ala., at a craft distiller's conference. The two men aren't related, but they did discover they shared a passion for high-quality, distilled spirits.
Brian, a former bank vice-president, had experience in finance and was interested in starting his own business. Thomas Earl's background included wine-making, brewing, farming and consulting for distilleries.
Today, they are well on their way to realizing a dream to create products they can offer with pride.
What's a distillery doing in the heart of wine country? We may be unique on Seneca Lake, but there are some great reasons to develop a craft distillery here. Located on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail with more than 40 wineries that attract visitors and wine-lovers from around the world.
The climate is key to attracting vintners, brewers and distillers. The water of the ''lake that never freezes'' retains the heat of summer well into the winter, creating a unique micro-climate - great territory for exceptional raw materials such as; hardy grapes, grains and other fruits and berries that go into premium spirits.
The centerpiece of Finger Lakes Distilling is the giant pot still and rectification column made by Holstein in Markdorf, Germany. The 4,000-pound still traveled 4,000 miles to its home in the Finger Lakes. You can see its copper gleam through the distillery's windows. It's an even more impressive sight inside, where the rectification column rises up to face the second-floor tasting room.