Tuesday
Jul192016

It Rained!

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.

 

Sunday
Jun142015

Three Years of Production

June 14, 2015

For a writer, I have been sorely lagging in the blogging department. I attribute this in part to purposeful avoidance, aware as I am of my tendency to write lengthy posts that are more about the spirit of life than they are the spirit of Myer Farm Distillers. Then again, we have been busy with the business of producing beautiful spirits from organic grains.

This month marks the completion of three years of production and the commencement of our fourth year (we will celebrate the third anniversary of our tasting room being open this fall on Saturday, September 19th--two weeks earlier in the season than usual in the hopes of slightly warmer and less volatile weather).

By this month's end we'll have put up 270 barrels (since we began production) and we currently have close to 100 barrels aging on our ricks. We also have bottled close to 2,150 cases. Our Myer Farm Gin (ADI Best in Category with Silver Medal, 2013) continues to reign as our most popular product, followed by Myer Farm Cayuga Gold (our 2015 ADI Best in Category with Silver Medal barrel-aged gin), our ginger vodka, and our John Myer whiskey line (Bourbon, Four Grain, Rye, and Wheat whiskeys). While we are growing slowly and carefully with demand, our focus remains on creating and producing high quality spirits using John's organic grains that he grows and harvests right here in the fields around the distillery. For details about us and our products, you will find plenty of information in my Distillery of the Month interview with E-man Booze of Main Street Distillers (where he also provides a review of our John Myer Four Grain Whiskey) found here: http://www.mainstdistilleries.com/myer-farm-distillers/

Our products may be found in an increasing number of outlets in the Washington, D.C. area and we continue to self-distribute in New York State. We have added many wonderful shops to our list of where you may find us (see our Products page). We also are excited to announce that we will be imminently available in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through their Special Order Program (just ask your favorite bar, restaurant, or Fine Wine and Good Spirits store in PA to order our products).

We hope you will come visit us. It looks like it's going to be a beautiful summer in the Finger Lakes. Our ground table is full (I'm sorry we can't ship some of the water to our parched friends in California) and the sun--nonetheless--has been steadily shining. Our tomatoes are in blossom already and the first fistfuls of kale were quickly consumed. We hope your own bountiful summers are--in their own ways--coming into bloom.

Tuesday
Nov182014

Holiday Sale

As we welcome Thanksgiving and various holidays through the end of the year, we encourage you to stop by our tasting room for extended savings! We will have 10% off all apparel and 10% off three or more bottles beginning Wednesday, November 19th through Wednesday, December 24th!

 

We also have a few gift baskets left (representing a savings of 20%) that feature John Myer Rye Whiskey and Myer Farm White Dog Wheat Spirit.

Friday
Oct172014

Anniversary Party

Thank you everybody who made it out to the 2nd Anniversary Party of our tasting room being open. We celebrated on Saturday, October 4th, 2014. The overcast sky and light rain of the morning gave way to sunshine and a light and occasionally blustery breeze. The Stonecat Cafe of Hector, NY provided wonderful food and incredible drinks from two lengthy cocktail menus. Cat's Elbow provided music and entertainment for our visitors and guests. We have been busy producing vodka for our annual infusion of fresh, organic ginger provided by our neighbors down the road, The Good Life farm. Rye production will be up next month.

On another note, Darlene Zaharis has been pouring for many of the bars, restaurants, and liquor stores that have requested our products. I've updated the list of where you may find us (under the Products tab). I also have a stack of notes from our staff from those of you who have suggested locations where you'd like to find us as well as those owners who have called to request our products. Thank you for your support and please be patient as we grow and get our products out to you.

Saturday
Aug302014

Happy Labor Day! Thoughts of the Moment. And Save the Date....

Hi all! Another perfect day in the Finger Lakes, this Saturday, August 30, 2014. My apologies for not checking in more often. We tend to share a lot of what's new here via FaceBook, but I realize that not everybody has access to or is interested in FaceBook. So for all of you who have felt left out of the loop, here's a little update on what is new:

As many of you know, Montezuma Wildlife Refuge has been vital in the work to bring back Bald Eagles to New York State through their Bald Eagles Restoration Program, which was established in 1976. Thanks in large part to their efforts, we now have Bald Eagles nesting in various spots along Cayuga Lake and its shores (along with many prominent Osprey nests, which can be found along both Route 90 and Route 89 on both sides of Cayuga Lake, as well as along back roads a few miles from the shore). We have been fortunate to see both a pair of young eagles circle over and pass by our distillery on several occasions as well as a mature (three years or older) Bald Eagle circling low over our farm pond and the distillery. If you have not seen a Bald Eagle up close, with its wide, white tail band and white head flashing in the sun, I assure you it is a sight to behold with awe and respect, not only for the bird or species itself or for it having overcome near extinction to a position of solid re-establishment, but perhaps equally so for what such a bird and its recovery represents: hope, promise, and community.

Hope, to the extent that we (one would hope!) want and expect that we can come together at a common table to partake of the bounty that we have worked to produce, to aspire to soar as one like the Eagle that represents us (in this nation anyway). Our nation in many ways has become more and more polarized and the nations and tribes and lands of which we altogether comprise Earth's people seem ever more at mistrust, violence, and war. Perhaps I'm a pollyanna, but I am inclined to see the success of our Bald Eagle as a sign of survival and sustainability, actualized by the promise--the known potential--of the love, goodwill, and creativity within us all. The promise within us as individuals to survive, thrive, bloom, and seed as flora and fauna do; and, the promise among us as communities to recognize the ties that bind, to stand up against that which divides, to lend our hands to those in need, and to feed those endeavors that stand to bring us all as one from the spector of extinction to the reality of fruition.

If we can save the Bald Eagle, we can save ourselves.

 

On a lighter note: many of you may be happy to hear that we have Cayuga Gold back in stock (our first batch sold out in less than two months). If you have not tried this, our barrel-aged gin (seasoned in our own previously used John Myer Whiskey barrels), please do come in to taste it! Also, we will be bottling another batch of Rye next week (produced at 70% rye grain rather than 56% rye grain) and should have it sealed, labeled and on the shelves by Thursday, September 4th. It's beautiful and sings Rye. We are still in limited supply of our John Myer Bourbon (almost sold out), but there are a few bottles remaining for sale in the tasting room only. We may bottle a small new batch in late September. For all you Ginger Vodka fans, we are on our last case of 375 ml bottles, but we are once again increasing production this fall and will have plenty again in December (and we have plenty currently still available in 750 ml bottles). For all you whiskey lovers: we plan to have a New York Straight Four Grain Whiskey (Single Barrel) available in late February! And I'm working on trials to produce two more flavored vodkas (details forthcoming) that hopefully will be available in February or March.

In other news, one of our own, Darlene Zaharis, has been hitting the road meeting wonderful new folks (and following-up with old friends) who would like to carry our spirits. We are now or soon to be represented in Auburn, Syracuse, and Lansing, among other places. I will try to update sooner, rather than later, the list of specific locations where we can be found.

In exciting news: we have the support of a wonderful associate producer at CBS who is interested in featuring us in a documentary about craft whiskey production.... We are still getting to know each other and are only in the development stage, so this is just a note of fun and excitement and hope in action. We would be honored to share a bit of ourselves and the process of whiskey making, from conditioning the soil to planting the seed, to harvesting, mashing, distilling, and eveything in-between, including the glue of personality, life, love, creativity, and community in the Finger Lakes that holds us together, warts and all.

Finally, for now, please save Saturday, October 4th on your calendars for our 2nd Anniversary Party! We will once again be featuring specialty cocktails and local food flair provided by The Stonecat Cafe as well as excellent music by Cat's Elbow! Our doors will open at 11:00 as usual, but festivities begin at noon and will go to 6:00 p.m. There will be no tickets required and no cost at the door; however, cocktails and food are provided for cash sale. I even dropped my fiddle by the Guitar Works so as to get my bows rehaired and my instrument conditioned. I love jumping in with Cat's Elbow. Great music and song, with my niece Davina as the lead singer. We hope to see you.