July 19, 2016
Happy Summer of 2016 to all. We're celebrating yesterday's rain here. We have a famous saying in New York State, which, regardless of phrasing is essentially this: "If you don't like the weather, give it a day." (Or as the cynics say, 'give it a minute'.) Last year we had standing water into late June, followed by a drought in fall, followed by naught but trace amounts of snow over winter, and for the last two months we had just two tenths of rain, until yesterday. The corn is unfurling, the grass has turned from tan to chartreuse, and the stress-bloomed chrysanthemums breathe sighs of relief. Kind of makes me thirsty!
Thankfully, we are well stocked with spirits here! Finishing up our fourth year of production, we now have our wooden ricks filled to capacity (200 bbls) with another 6 barrels of wheat whiskey waiting for a new shelving unit to arrive. I sampled the corn whiskey we have aging and at a year old it may be one of the smoothest most beautiful whiskeys we've made yet to date. We only have two barrels, so I'm aging these for another year until the spirit is extra fine. The cinnamon whiskey that is aging is very close and we plan to release it at the end of September (stay tuned to our home page for a save-the-date poster, coming soon) and I just started a cinnamon infusion of 4-barrel's worth for the next batch. I'm also working on developing a honey whiskey for those who enjoy flavored whiskeys. We worked extra this winter and as a result have plenty of drums of vodka in stock. I'm running neutral grain spirit (NGS) this week so we can meet the ever-increasing demand for Myer Farm Gin and Cayuga Gold (NGS is the base we make for the final gin distillation).
Most of you who have had the chance to hear me talk about distilling probably are familiar with how excited I can get talking about it, especially with regard to making gin. We start with our own NGS (a relative rarity when many craft distillers purchase NGS bulk from outside their own house) and vapor infuse the botanicals that I grind fresh and layer in our dedicated gin head or gin basket in the still set-up. Oh, gin days are beautiful days. The production area becomes a garden in full bloom. The flavors in the condensing spirit come over at various times and in various configurations depending on how and when the botanicals relinquish their essence to the evaporate that passes through them. For example, the juniper usually comes over early, followed by violet, cardamom, lemon, and coriander in a playful quartet; lavender and bergamot dazzle (especially since neither are actual botanicals we use, but rather are an alchemical result of various botanicals in the vapor infusion); similarly, sandlewood and jasmine magically appear, as more citrus slips through before yielding to the delights of browned butter and cinnamon-raisin toast. Filling out the later part of the run are flavors of dark rum, earthy walnut and maple, and finally more cinnamon and cardomom. To me (someone who is a bit synesthesic and hyper-sensitive--I experience flavors as colors, sound as colors, color in general as music, charcoal drawings as poetry, and feel everything viscerally), experiencing an unfolding gin distillation is like frisking three-dimensionally into a gorgeous painting that is living and breathing and constantly modulating. An ever-widening gyre of joy. I wish everybody could experience such beauty.
To some degree, I hope you do in the form of the final bottled booty. Our Myer Farm Gin continues to be our flagship product. Our barrel-aged gin, Cayuga Gold, won a silver medal for a second consecutive year in this year's American Distilling Institute's (ADI's) American Craft Spirits Competition. Three of our 2-year single-barrel releases from our John Myer whiskey line-up (the wheat, rye, and bourbon whiskeys) also all won bronze medals at this year's national ADI competition (we hadn't yet released our new batch of 2-year Single Barrel John Myer Four Grain Whiskey at the deadline for submissions, so that will have to wait until next year). Our J. Earl Myer Ginger Lake (a ginger-infused rye whiskey) has been a hit, and visitors to the the tasting room have been going wild over our new batch of ginger vodka (which has 50% more ginger by volume than our previous batch).
I miss making drawings and paintings; I miss playing music; I miss having the time to write. But for what self-expression I have relinquished in those arts, I have gained the deep pleasure and honor of applying myself to producing spirits. I have a great team here. My brother and business partner, John, with his successful farming and business experience, informs my novice attempts at leadership and running a business, while his son--my nephew Ben--keeps a quarterly eye on our business health. John of course provides the essential medium of finely cultivated organic grain. My assistant Mark Thomas is my reliable right hand. My companion Greg Baker is invaluable in finishing the bottled product. Darlene Zaharis continues to connect with the public--to sell our story and fine product to new folks out in the field--as our in-house staff (our regulars: Nikki, April, Mel, and Amy; and our floaters: Kait and Erik) communicate--in dedicated word and deed--who we are and what we produce to throngs of visitors and returning customers who thirst for a spiritual awakening or renewed transcendence. Well, that is how I see it. And I can't help but see deep beneath any surface. The deep; the depths. Nobody, not any one of us, reflects on the surface all that we each are, all of what has miraculously brewed in the vat of our histories--the bruises of loss, the bright cymbals of rejuvination--that has led us to become who we are. The weave of people along the way. We are never just one, alone. We are each a facet of the One we are together. My perception, anyway. At any rate, I have always lived my life for art, to make art, to perfect and manifest my visions, to synthesize and materialize; and, it is my personal goal to always improve and move our customers the way art moves me. I trust in the transformational power of spirits.
Which leads me to share here one of my all-time favorite literary passages. It's from Cousin Betty, by Balzac. One translation reads: "Perpetual work is the law of art, as it is the law of life, for art is idealized creation. Hence great artists and perfect poets wait neither for commissions nor for purchasers. They are constantly creating--today, tomorrow, always. The result is the habit of work, the unfailing apprehension of the difficulties which keep them in close intercourse with the Muse and her productive forces."
I've happily always been a workaholic, but I have never been as happy working as I am in my role here in our shared appreciation of quality spirits--my role here in our shared adventure that is life.