Why a Distillery?
We have been asked by a couple of different people (and often wonder ourselves) why we would open a distillery in the northern tip of wine country. Wouldn't it be easier to do hard cider or fruit wines? After all, the town the distillery sits in was a dry town until 1996 and didn't allow sales of liquor until well into the 2000's.
To answer that we have to look at the time prior to prohibition. In colonial and early America fruit based drinks were much more readily available than they are today. Farmers turned most if not all of their excess crops into alcohol. This started as Hard Cider shortly after harvest, and Apple Brandy/Applejack as the season progressed. The reasons for this were many, but shelf life was one of the leading factors. Sweet cider lasts a short while (in those days without pasteurization practices even less) hard cider with its alcohol content lasts somewhat longer, but applejack and brandy last until they evaporate or are drunk.
So, just like any other good fruit growing region the greater Rochester area (Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, and Wayne Counties) had its share of alcohol producers. So important, in fact, was the production of alcohol in this area prior to prohibition, that in his 1895 book, Landmarks of Monroe County, William Farley Peck noted that Monroe counties biggest revenue tax payer was a gentleman by the name of John M. Sweeting. Mr Sweeting owned several manufacturing businesses, but was best known for his Apple Brandy Distillery.
So, back to us. We have decided to produce high quality fruit based spirits in Williamson New York because we want to be where the fruit is grown. The DeFisher Fruit farm that surrounds the distillery encompasses close to 600 acres, and allows us access to dozens of varieties of apples and other fruits. This allows us the unique position to control our process from start to finish. We grow the apples, pick them and press them on site -- there is no middle man. We decided to go with a distillery instead of wine because we wanted to be a little different. We feel that we can bring the kind of terroir (sense or taste of place) to our applejack and other products that regions like Scotland have enjoyed bringing to their Scotch for Centuries now. This area produces a huge number of apples, and has so much more to offer to the world than juice and sauce. It is our hope to share that with every cocktail or shot or sip at a time.