Fort William Henry to Make Lake George Whiskey
A craft distillery, making small batches of whiskey, rye, vodka and gin, could be operating at Fort William Henry by June, 2014, says Kathy Flacke Muncil, the CEO of the Fort William Henry Corporation.
“We’re really excited about the concept of our new venture and its products, which we’ll call ‘Lake George Spirits,’ said Muncil. “It could be fabulous for the area, since it will be another way to market Lake George and the Adirondacks throughout the country. Here in Lake George, the distillery would create several new, year round jobs, and even more if it enables us to keep a restaurant open year-round.”
While building upon the history and romance of Fort William Henry – “every soldier was given a ration of rum,” says Muncil – the distillery business is meant to stand on its own.
“We’re thinking about the future of this corporation and the distillery will be a self-sustaining part of it,” said Muncil.
‘Lake George Spirits’ will be made with local products, water especially.
“We recently dug new wells here, and the quality of the water could not be better,” said Muncil. “We could have bottled and sold water; but the next best thing after water is alcohol.”
The rye, corn and other grains needed to make spirits will be purchased from New York farms, said Muncil.
“Making locally-sourced rum is a bit more difficult; unfortunately, we don’t grow sugar cane in upstate New York,” she said.
‘Lake George Spirits’ will also be bottled and sold at Fort William Henry.
The distillery could become one more attraction at the Fort, especially if attached to the restaurant.
“We envision the distillery being visible through glass and creating a tasting room,” said Muncil.
To take advantage of incentives created by the state to support local farms, breweries, wineries and distilleries, the restaurant would feature local produce, she said.
According to Muncil, who has spent the last two years becoming acquainted with craft distillers and educating herself about the process and the business, the next steps for ‘Lake George Spirits’ include selecting a still and acquiring the necessary permits to manufacture a product within the Town of Lake George.
One important hurdle was passed on the last day of this year’s legislative session in Albany when both houses approved a bill authorizing the State Liquor Authority to issue a distiller’s license to the Fort William Henry Corporation.
“Craft breweries and distilleries continue to grow in popularity,” said Senator Betty Little. “Many are using locally grown products. That appeals to people who not only appreciate the craft, but want to support local farmers and prefer to know where their food, or in this case beverage, is coming from.
“This legislation allows for the expansion of an existing local business,” said Assemblyman Dan Stec. “I believe this is a benefit to the region and is the kind of work I went to Albany to do. I’m happy this is among the first bills I was able to get passed in my first year in the Assembly.”