If the name “Middle Finger Moonshine" isn’t enough of a clue, there’s a certain level of irreverence and playfulness to be found at Barrelhouse 6 Distillery. Rest assured, however, it isn’t the result of a disregard for other people’s sensibilities. On the contrary, the focus of this new craft distillery seems to be on taking myriad sensibilities and tastes into consideration.
The wry (not to be confused with rye) sense of humor even comes through on the website. While most purveyors of adult libation have basic age verification methods for entering their sites, the newest distillery opening on the west side of Keuka Lake offers visitors a hint of levity from the get-go by stating, “We know it’s rude to ask, but are you over 21?”
There seems to be a wonderful balance here of not taking oneself too seriously. Yet, all the while taking seriously, the craft of distilling. As evidenced by owner and master distiller, Kara Mackey’s training through Heriot-Watt’s school in Ediburgh, Scotland.
The juxtaposition of approachability and professionalism, of creativity and science, of rustic and refinement is an enticing give-and-take that comes through in the tasting room aesthetics as well as the approach to crafting spirits. Even the seemingly simplest of details are given careful thought and are done with intent.
Take the tasting room itself: a wide-open (we're talking 2400 square feet) and very inviting room with a rustic feel (exposed wood beams, faux hardwood floors, and so on). The weathered appearance of the pleated tin ceilings helps create a relaxed atmosphere where it feels as though the place has lived numerous lives. As though it has countless stories to share. Yet creating that effect was actually a special rapid-aging art project by Kara's daughter who will soon graduate from Alfred University (Mom’s alma-matter) with two degrees.
Located on 43 acres of the former Gold Seal property, Barrelhouse 6 Distillery is connected to an integral part of Hammondsport’s historic past and to that of Finger Lakes Wine Country, but they’re also taking a long dormant property and turning it into something new. They have built an expansive tasting room and production facility that is the sort of place where folks will want to spend some time. Especially on the massive deck overlooking Keuka Lake. Talk about a great spot to wind down the day.
At 500 gallons, Barrelhouse 6 will be using the largest hand-crafted copper still ever made by renowned Hillbilly Stills of Kentucky. They’ll be aging their whiskey in sherry casks imported from Spain which is the traditional method used in Scotland, where Kara trained.
They will also be offering a variety of gin-making workshops using 26 gallon stills, ranging from an afternoon class to those requiring multiple visits depending on how much of the distilling process one might want to learn.
Kara’s own past is also part of this new venture. A graduate from Alfred University, you’ll find a 140 year-old fully-restored piano from her sorority house on display in the B6D tasting room. Artwork from another Alfred alum, Bryan Toy, can be found on the tasting room walls and will appear on the labels for the Sisters series of gins (featuring four different gin expressions) which they will be producing as an homage to Kara’s sorority. They’ll also be producing moonshine, corn whiskey and rye (including an imperial rye).
Between the comfortable, casual, rustic setting that has an authentic down-home feel, gorgeous views of the lake, and the tasty libations they’ll be providing, the folks at B6D are serious about “taking you on great journeys.” But be prepared to do some laughing here as well. This is definitely one place that’s serious about offering its guests a good time.
Kara makes a point to mention that Barrelhouse 6 isn't the sort of distillery where you stop by, taste a few samples, buy a bottle and go. This is a place where you'll want to spend some time. "We've designed it for customers to feel casual and welcome. Where they can come and stay as long as they'd like," she says.
That's why she's having a mixologist from NYC create several creative cocktails for the bar. It's also whey they'll be offering five local beers and one hard cider through their six taps, plus eight or nine local wines, and some aged offerings which they will source from other producers until their aged whiskeys are ready.
Barrelhouse 6 Distillery is hoping to open April 16th, 2021. Get ready for a good time!