One of New York state’s best craft distilleries delivers a masterpiece with a bottled in bond wheated bourbon. Situated on the east shore of Lake Seneca in the heart of the Finger Lakes wine country, McKenzie has always made their whiskies with locally sourced NY grain and dedicated themselves to environmental stewardship. They were a huge hit here at KL many years ago when they were brand new with baby aged whiskey. Today they’re better than ever. By law the bottled in bond is at least 4 years old, but the whiskey here is older than the legal minimum. The rich and creamy texture is perfect at 100 proof. With the sky high demand for wheated bourbon, I don’t expect us to be able to keep this in stock, but it would be unfair to compare it with Weller or Pappy. The real story here is in the curation of exceptionally high quality grains grown in the bread basket of New York. The distillation ends at a slightly lower proof to preserve more of the inherent wheat and corn flavors in the final product. The quality of the whiskey is superb. It’s dense, rich, smooth as silk, and wildly flavorful.
Andrew Whiteley | KL Staff Member | Review Date: June 05, 2019
The best wheated bourbon on our shelf. Full Stop. A few things are done differently at the Finger Lakes Distillery to make Mckenzie that contribute to it’s full and intense flavor. All of the grain is grown locally in New York state before being distilled to a lower than normal proof, retaining more flavor. The second distillation is carried out on a thumper, an old school technique given up for modern efficiency by most Kentucky producers. It is then barreled at a ridiculously low 100 proof in barrels made from 36 month air dried staves. The end result of these expensive choice is that you need to add almost no water when it comes time to bottle – yet again, the result is MORE flavor. Just ask Michter’s who barrels at 103 proof! Each of these production choices sets Mckenzie apart, but the true test comes down to what’s in the bottle. Pour a slug of this into a glass and let it sit for a moment. You won’t even have to nose the glass before you smell the rich caramel, brown sugar, dried fruits, and mellow grain wafting up. Put the liquid to your lips and the first thing you notice is the texture. It’s full bodied and creamy. The flavors expand across the palate as a repeat of the nose with the added complexity of cinnamon, nutmeg, and very gentle wood tannin. The finish flourishes into an array of pepper, cocoa, caramel, sweet tea, and caramelized sugar. The 100 proof ties every aspect together in harmony. A complete bourbon and an incredibly showing for the Burdett, NY distillery.
Stefanie Juelsgaard | KL Staff Member | Review Date: June 05, 2019
Could this be the best wheated Bourbon in the store? You need to try it to find out, but everyone at KL is on board with that statement. With some of the big names in wheated Bourbon, like Pappy and Weller, now impossible to come by, it’s really reassuring to know we can still find something of this incredible quality and taste available. It’s great to be able to support the craft distillers in this era of giant conglomerates and McKenzie’s attention to detail and dedication to this spirit is evident in this bottling. Not too shabby at all.
Neal Fischer | KL Staff Member | Review Date: June 04, 2019
A wheated Bourbon for all seasons! I normally gravitate toward high-rye American whiskeys, but I like this wheater because it’s no pushover. The nose begins with some of the more gentle scents one might expect from wheated Bourbon: breadiness, breakfast brioche, butter toffees, and baked fruits. However, this is not any old wheated Bourbon because it happens to be Bottled in Bond which ensures a decent level of maturity and 100 proof. Sandalwood pops out of the oak char notes and then the booze turns spicy (not into Rye territory, but enough to liven the glass). Clove begets allspice begets savory anise that reminds me of European black licorice candies. As the Bourbon ebbs to its long finish, the fruit flavors bob in and out between those spicy notes and polished wood tannins.