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Two new craft distilleries to open in Buffalo in the spring

Two new craft distilleries are headed for Buffalo this spring, both in the Larkin District. Buffalo Distilling Co. and Tommyrotter Distillery will join a growing list of spirits makers that have set up shop in the city since loosened state regulations have made it easier and cheaper to do so.

Buffalo Distilling Co., which has been making bourbon and apple brandy at a Wyoming County farm since 2012, will move to 860 Seneca St. on May 1 and expand its operations.

It also plans to produce other kinds of liquor, including hop-infused vodka, gin or whiskey as well as an aged rye or single-malt whiskey. The three-story building will house a single still and a “retro-industrial” tasting room designed to keep the integrity of the nearly 120-year-old building.

Tommyrotter Distillery is headed for 500 Seneca St., just half a mile away. That company will make vodka and gin infused with herbs, flowers and spices. The space will have a tasting room perched on a mezzanine overlooking the production floor with a view of its distillation system.

New York State has seen a craft distillery boomlet since changes to state laws made distilling easier for smaller upstarts that source more than half of their raw materials within New York.

The New York Farm Distillery Law also greatly reduced licensing fees and allowed distillers to open tasting rooms and sell spirits by the glass on site, directly to consumers. Those loosened regulations also paved the way for previously announced distilleries.

A long-empty warehouse on Vandalia Street in the Old First Ward just got city approval to be converted to an artisanal food and drink complex called The Barrel Factory. In addition to a brewery called Queen City Malting, it will house a distillery called Lakeward Spirits, which will produce whiskey, gin and botanical infusions.

Another distillery, Niagara Distilling Co., will open at 459 Ellicott St. and will make gluten-free spirits from scratch, including its Scarecrow vodka, 1812 gin, and Cobblestone moonshine, bourbon and rye. That location, with an enclosed glass tasting room and retail store, should be open by mid- to late February.

Black Squirrel Distillery recently moved into 1595 Elmwood Ave. at Amherst Street and will open its doors to the public next month. It makes amber-style rum.

Lockhouse Distillery's 2013 opening marked the first spirit factory since Prohibition. (John Hickey/Buffalo News file photo)

Lockhouse Distillery's 2013 opening marked the first spirit factory since Prohibition. (John Hickey/Buffalo News file photo)

Lockhouse Distillery, which produces vodka, opened last year at 255 Great Arrow Ave. It was the first distillery to open within the city limits since Prohibition shut the last one down more than 80 years ago. Though Buffalo’s craft distillery scene is about to get a bit more crowded, more will only make it merrier, local players said.

“The craft brewers have been really good about working together and I think distillers will be, too,” said Finan at Tommyrotter. “This is a situation where a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Wegrzyn at Buffalo Distilling agreed.

“We’re trying to organize a brotherhood or at least an association,” he said.

“I think as people get established they’ll realize it’s what we need to do and that it’s in everybody’s best interests.”


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