The Finger Lakes Distilling Process

The first step to making premium quality craft spirits is finding the best raw ingredients. Situated in the heart of Finger Lakes wine and farm country, we’re ideally positioned to have easy access to locally grown grapes, berries, rye, corn, and other fruits and grains.

The next step mirrors the processes of the wineries and breweries that surround the distillery: we ferment the fruit or grains. This is when the character of the final product is determined. Will it be a complex, flavorful whiskey, made from a mash of local corn and rye? Or will it be a velvet-smooth vodka distilled from Finger Lakes grapes?

The next step is the actual distillation. The fermented liquid is placed in one of our two copper stills, where it is heated to a precisely controlled temperature. Because alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water, we can collect the vapor and re-condense it into a liquid with a much higher alcohol concentration. Our distiller controls many elements of the distillation process to produce different styles of spirits, depending on whether we’re making vodka, gin, brandy, or whiskey.

All our spirits flow through one of two copper stills at Finger Lakes Distilling. Our first still, with us since we started, is a 350-gallon potstill with a 20-foot rectification column, made by the Holstein Company in Germany. Our latest addition is a 25-foot tall continuous still and copper thumper from Vendome Copper & Brass Works that’s mostly used for making our craft whiskies.

After distillation, most spirits would be just about ready for bottling. But our small-batch whiskies have one more step: aging. We start by maturing the spirit in brand new, charred oak barrels. Some of the whiskies are then finished in casks from local wineries.

The entire process, from processing the raw ingredients to labeling filled bottles, is housed at Finger Lakes Distilling. All of our products are made using timeless methods that haven’t changed much in a century or more.

View how each process is completed:

Whiskey Process
Vodka Process
Brandy / Grappa Process
Liqueurs Process
Gin Process