Be still, my heart.

Oh my goodness, they’re making rye whiskey in my home country.

“On the more lavish side of the craft, Brian McKenzie, 33, has built the Finger Lakes Region’s first stand-alone distillery, Finger Lakes Distilling, in Burdett, N.Y., which juts like a sleek white liner among 100-year-old vineyards on a hillside above Seneca Lake. Mr. McKenzie spent years in finance in Washington before coming home to help at his father’s small savings and loan in Elmira, N.Y. After trips to Scotland and Kentucky, he was bitten by the concept of introducing distilling to a region where hundreds of local wineries have created a solid base of alco-tourism.

“His distillery is striking, housing a well-appointed tasting room and a custom-built 300-gallon German-made Holstein pot still, which vaults through the space like a burnished copper rocket. But his masterstroke was hiring Thomas Earl McKenzie, 34 (no relation), an experienced Alabaman stillman whose sly drawl is as surprising in these parts as is the accomplished breadth of his handiwork.

“They have an astonishing 18 products, from fruit brandies and liqueurs to aged whiskies and musky grappa made from local grapes like gewürztraminer, muscat and Catawba. Their Seneca Drums is one of the better new London dry-style gins, but their double-distilled bourbon and rye are where Mr. McKenzie’s Southern pedigree shows up. The peppery rye is from fields one can see across the lake and aged in casks that held local fortified wine.

“’See what you all think,’ the stillman offered with breezy confidence. ‘I ain’t feeling too poetic today.’”

And you just know he said “Y’all.”


  1. Matthew,

    When is the last time you invited me to your house – I mean the one in Cortland?


  2. notrelatedtoted says

    Meanwhile, South of the Mason-Dixon line we have this.

    I may have actually bought some of that for a Christmas gift. And it may have cost $15. Imagine, moonshine for $15?!?

  3. Southern Expat says

    I kind of think he did say "you all." It's a little more formal. We'd know he was misquoted if they'd had him saying "you guys."

  4. Rufus McCain says

    Humble Spokane has also done us all proud in the moonshine department. Check out Dry Fly Distillery.

  5. Cubeland Mystic says

    Korrektiv Press & Still

    Rufus, You have to diversify.

  6. Rufus McCain says

    The Korrektiv K would look stunning on a bottle of vodka. K-erosene.

  7. Jonathan Webb says

    Surprising. The climate in Spokane is actually perfect, hot summers, cold winters.

  8. Southern Expat says

    Oooooh, does this mean I can make another trailer?

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