Buffalo: Come for the History, Stay for the Booze
Before Lockhouse Distillery’s inception in 2013, there hadn’t been any local distilleries since 1919. In the past 3 years the city has seen an exponential growth in the distilling industry. Distilleries are producing everything from vodka, gin, and whiskey, to brandy, liqueurs, and other spin-off spirits, causing no shortage of Buffalo distilled booze for almost every palate.
Some of the most notable players in the industry include the following, all of which are located within city limits. Every one of the locations featured in this guide offers tastings, retail, and most even offer distillery tours.
The spirits produced by these distilleries have not only made an impact locally but have received national accolades and coveted awards. Tommyrotter’s small batch vodka was awarded a silver medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and its American Gin was rated 93 points in The Tasting panel Magazine. Niagara Distilling Co.’s 1812 Gin took a gold medal in the SIP Awards International Consumer Tasting while its 1812 Vodka brought home a bronze medal from the same event. Lockhouse most recently won 4 medals in the 2017 American Craft Spirits Association Awards in Nashville, the only national competition judged by industry peers. They took home silver medals with their Fine Gin and Ibisco Bitter, and bronze medals with their Barrel Aged Gin and Revolution Coffee Liqueur.
Here is a list of fantastic distilleries in Buffalo, NY:
Buffalo Distilling Co.
Each one of the distilleries on this list offers something unique and inherently their own. Buffalo Distilling Co. recently opened the doors to its new distillery and tasting room located in the trendy Larkin District at 860 Seneca Street. The operation is housed in the former Duchmann & Sons Carriage Mfg building, which is a stunning reminder of Buffalo’s notable industrial past. Coincidentally this location is merely a mile away from its 1883 original location on William and Pratt Streets. This new location offers a tasting room, retail space, along with distillery tours, and a private event space.
The Tommyrotter’s Club was a band of rebellious craftsmen and artisans in the early 29th century who sought adventure, mischief, and inspiration in nature. These same qualities are at the heart of the spirits distilled at Tommyrotter. Since opening its doors in 2015 they have been meticulously crafting small batch Gin and Vodka. Their mezzanine tasting and retail space is the perfect vantage point to take a peak of their impressive bottling operation. They are located at 500 Seneca Street, in the F.N. Burt Building, a 115-year-old paper box factory in the heart of buffalos historic Hydraulics manufacturing district. You’ll have to wait until the spring to visit their location as they are closed to the public for the winter but their products are readily available through the region and most recently distributed in Pennsylvania.
Lockhouse Distillery and Bar
Being the first local distillery since prohibition, Lockhouse opened its doors to much anticipation from Buffalonians. It did not disappoint. To this day they continue to innovate and exceed the publics expectations. Their success was such that within a year they outgrew their original location and expanded to its current home at 41 Colombia Street in the Cobblestone District. Their new home allows not only for their distilling operation but also is a nightlife destination with a full bar which frequently features live music and fun events that sets them apart from the rest. Tours of the distillery can be scheduled and space for private events is available.
Niagara Distilling Co.
Niagara Distilling Co. found its home in a former carriage house and stable which happens to be one of the oldest buildings in Buffalo. Located at 459 Ellicott Street, their tasting room really gives you a great view of the production area through a large glass window, which showcases their stills. In an effort to stick to their mission to work with organic, locally sourced corn, the distillery diligently sends their byproduct to farms for animal feed, completing the ingredients full life circle.
Black Squirrel Distillery
Black Squirrel got its name from old Buffalo folklore and to this day, staying true to its beginnings all of their spirits have maple as a component. Most recently they released a Maple Liqueur that has received a very positive response in the market. Their tasting and retail space is located at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Amherst Street.
The most recent newcomer to the Buffalo spirit game is Lakeward Spirits located in the Old Neighborhood at The Barrel Factory which recently opened for business. Lakeward Spirits is now offering their first spirit called Grain Canyon Vodka. This is an all grain vodka produced onsite in handcrafted, USA made copper stills, and the first in what promises to be a stellar line-up of spirits to include gin, rum, and whiskey. Lakeward spirits are all made from scratch right at the Old First Ward Barrel Factory. Lakeward mills the local grain and malt themselves, and then mashes, ferments, distills, and bottles. Until recently most North American malting operations were in the Mid-west or Canada. Luckily for Lakeward, and Buffalo spirit enthusiasts, there are now four maltsters in WNY (Pioneer Malting, NYCraftmalt, Queen City Malting, Niagara Malt) who work with local farmers. Lakeward’s process provides a true taste of WNY grain.
We encourage you to support our local distillers by visiting their facilities and tasting rooms or by purchasing a cocktail made with local spirits at your favorite bar or restaurant. Cheers!