McKenzie Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey...

McKenzie Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey (52.9%): Finger Lakes is simply breathtaking... Waking up right after dawn every day, finding a hidden breakfast spot, cruising the winding roads around the lakes, watching the vineyards on the slopes pass by and stopping by wineries one by one is absolutely priceless... Beautiful scenery, amazing weather, small restaurants and remarkable wines. We had only three days in the region but we had the chance to taste some really outstanding wines and learned so much about the region. Yes, the main focus of the trip was wine but there was one distillery on our agenda we had to visit.

I first got acquainted with Finger Lakes Distilling for more than ten years ago when I was living in NYC and was following them since then. Although it was a weekday and we already knew that they were not offering tours or anything special we wanted at least to visit the shop, look around a little bit and maybe taste a few things... Luckily we met Matt from the distillery team the moment we walked in and before you know it we were geeking out about mash bills, cask sizes and fermentation times. He was certainly more than generous with his time and offered us to show around... From still house to warehouses, from mash tuns to fermenters we had a very extensive tour. We absolutely couldn't plan it better if we tried... Many thanks to Brian McKenzie and Matt for their incredible hospitality that day. Very much appreciated...

The whiskey I have on my desk today is distilled from a mash bill of 70% corn, 20% wheat and 10% malted barley,  aged 4.5 years and bottled at cask strength. To be honest I had no idea that they were distilling a wheated bourbon mash bill... It is not a part of their regular line-up but they do bottle single barrels at the distillery and also offer them as private or store barrel picks. The cask our bottle is filled from was carrying the number 1316.

Color: Dark unpolished copper with barely moving oily and thick legs.

Nose: Dusty and damp basement... Wet cardboard boxes, old magazines and mold. Banana cream pie and old school vanilla malt milkshake. Cream soda, oat and raisin cookies and maple syrup. A few drops of water opens it up nicely: Chocolate mousse, brittles and lemon peel. This is quite a remarkable nose. I don't know why I am surprised this much but I am.

Palate: Caramel rock candies, apple skin and freshly toasted oak. Black liquorice, Fernet Branca and chai spices. Water works on the palate as well... Mars bar, candied pecans, cloves and cinnamon. Complex, sweet and syrupy.

Finish: Long with molten chocolate, caramel and cinnamon.

Overall: It's been a long time since I tasted a McKenzie bourbon but they surely upped their game... This is a bourbon to challenge the big boys in terms of quality, taste and texture. I know that they neither have the capacity nor the distribution to compete with those powerhouses of Kentucky but this bottle elevates Finger Lakes Distilling to a whole new league. It is definitely one of the best craft bourbons I tasted in recent years with Wyoming Whiskey bourbon. Highly recommended... Check your local liquor stores they might have a store pick you can get without traveling all the way to Finger Lakes. But if you happen to be in the area you absolutely should visit the distillery.

Price: $70

Fingerlakes Distilling // July, 2018


Josh Erb said…
I grew up in the Finger Lakes region in the small town of Penn Yan before moving to Virginia. I miss the area so much and, as a whisk(e)y lover, I'm super proud of Finger Lakes Distilling and always happy when I see people reviewing and enjoying their whiskey. I'm going to try and pick up a bottle of their single barrel next time I visit my family. Have you tried their bottled-in-bond release?
I did and it's fantastic... Their patience throughout the years unlike any other craft distillery in North East paid off amazingly well. And also such a welcoming and nice group of people. Will visit again for sure...