By Kellen M. Quigley
The Ellicottville Distillery will be turning three years old in a little less than two months, and the locally owned and operated business has several events in store leading up to it.
The public is invited to come out this Sunday, Aug. 18 to the distillery, located at 5462 Robbins Road near Ashford Junction, for Distilled & Chilled, a free music fest event celebrating the late summer days.
“We’re out here in the middle of nowhere and events are the best way to make people aware of us,” said Chief Distiller Bryan Scharf last week. “We have a lot of space. We’re building an outdoor stage right now.”
From 2 to 6 p.m., area entertainers the Chris Squier Band, Porcelain Train and Nick Kody & the Creek Road Band will provide live music throughout the afternoon. KB Foods of Salamanca will be onsite with its food trailer.
“It’s a ‘check us out’ kind of thing,” Scharf said. “We’ll have a few bands and hopefully get some people out here.”
The Ellicottville Distillery officially opened its doors for business Oct. 1, 2016, after a two-and-a-half year project in the making. It opened with a unique line of corn whiskey, corn vodka and apple vodka — all under its label “The Agronomist.”
“All of our spirits are made from local grain, honey, cider,” Scharf said. “That’s a big thing is source everything as local as possible here.”
The spirits are created in a 500-gallon copper pot still, custom-made in Germany, that is the heart of the entire operation. Scharf manages the distillery and is in charge of most of the day-to-day operations.
“Things are going pretty well,” he said. “Every month is getting better. More and more people are becoming aware we’re out here, so that’s always a plus.”
On Sept. 28, Scharf said they plan to release their two-year-old bourbon to celebrate their third anniversary. A party is planned for the following weekend on Oct. 5.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been three years already,” he said. “We started out not really knowing what we were doing, but now we have a pretty good grasp on how to keep things going.”
But first on Aug. 25, the Distillery will be hosting their first pig roast event at 2 p.m. They will provide the food and cocktails and are asking attendees to bring the good times. Ron K will be onsite playing tunes. A $20 donation is being requested per plate.
The building housing the distillery has high ceilings and ample space, an ideal place for a distillery. The interior of the building has a 40-by-60-foot open floor plan that was renovated to accommodate the distillery and retail area.
It has a tasting room with a beautiful copper-topped bar, and upstairs there is a mezzanine for bottles and storage. The fermentors and still are downstairs, along with a bottling and labeling area and a retail space.
“We’re off the beaten path, but we’re a family-run operation out here,” Scharf said. “It’s kind of like a cozy, hang-out place. It’s comfortable here, not an industrial feel where it’s in and out the door.”
On Sept. 15, the Distillery is hosting its second annual Vintage Motorcycle Show from 1 to 4 p.m. Scharf said they are hoping to make it even bigger and better than the first year.
If you’re a fan of motorcycles and refreshing cocktails or just a good time in general, Scharf said this is the event to check out.
For $15, those interested can register their bike for the event and show it off to the crowd. Vendors will be on site swapping used motorcycle parts. There will also be a 50/50 raffle.
Food will be supplied by KB Foods and Nick Kody and Lydia Herren will provide live music. At the end, there will be a People’s Choice vote on the best vintage bike.
If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, feel free to ride your own bike down to the event.
Public tastings are currently held on Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 8 p.m. For more details, call the distillery at 597-6121 or search for “Ellicottville Distillery” on Facebook and Instagram.