The Kentucky Derby is just days away and the Buffalo Distilling Company is getting ready to open its doors on Seneca Street for a big Derby Day celebration.
“Buffalonians like to party and we look for any reason to,” said Roy Bakos, the director of hospitality and pleasures for the Buffalo Distilling Company.
These days, the Buffalo Distilling Company has good reason to party. The distiller is getting ready to embark on a million dollar expansion project.
First though, the Buffalo Distilling Company will welcome Western New Yorkers this weekend to watch the Kentucky Derby racing, show off their fascinator hats, and enjoy a signature cocktail or two.
The featured cocktails at the Buffalo Whiskey Derby are a moonshine-based Stable Boy and the classic mint julep with a Buffalo Distlling Company twist, using locally-sourced honey simple syrup.
The real star of the show is the Straight Bourbon, which will be re-released Saturday.
“It sold out in about a two day period, I think,” recalled Buffalo Distilling Company co-founder Andy Wegryzn, when asked about the original Straight Bourbon release last year. “We have a little bit more this time, and we’re excited to try to make that part of our regular offering.”
“Because we make the only whiskey and bourbon that are distilled in Western New York and Buffalo, we decided we were going to celebrate that and we were going to release our Straight Bourbon, which is a 90 proof, 24 month barrel aged bourbon, and a small amount of our Golden Grain Whiskey.”
The Golden Grain Whiskey gets its name from one of the products sold by the original Buffalo Distilling Company, which closed in the early 1900s. The current Buffalo Distilling Company owners revived the brand and relaunched it in the former Duchmann and Sons carriage factory building in Larkinville in 2012.
When our News 4 crew was at the distillery Thursday, head distiller Kevin Ford was making vodka. He says the process is pretty similar to the one used to make the three whiskeys and bourbons produced by the Buffalo Distilling Company, but the ingredients and the end result are different.
“For vodka you want to distill to a high proof, you want to get all that flavor out, have a nice clean, smooth product. With a whiskey, you want to distill it less, leave a lot of that flavor in so that when it’s in that barrel it can development some nice richness,” Ford explained.
The barrels give whiskey and bourbon a lot of their flavor and color, but they also take up a lot of space, and the Buffalo Distilling Company needs a lot more space as it continues to ramp up production of its local grain-to-glass spirits.
That’s why the Buffalo Distilling Company is buying the whole building where it had been leasing space until now. It’s also buying a warehouse next door.
“We’ll be able to go sideways into the warehouse which will be great as we add everything from kitchen space to storage to production. And then two floors above us in this beautiful 130 year old building as well,” Wegrzyn explained.
Wegrzyn says the expansion will mean even more good things for the Buffalo Distilling Company spirits.
“The quantity will go up and the quality will continue to go up, too,” he said.
If you’d like to raise a glass to the Buffalo Distilling Company’s success or just celebrate Derby Day with some delicious cocktails, live music, and contests, doors open for the Buffalo Whiskey Derby at 12 p.m. on Saturday, May 4.