Distillery Release: Honey Spirit
Ellicottville Distillery’s New “Sipping Whiskey”
By Chad Neal
A year ago, Bryan Scharf along with Charlie and Liz Bares opened the Ellicottville Distillery. Scharf is the chief distiller and runs the operation on a day-to-day basis. His first spirits were a Corn Whiskey and a Vodka also distilled using corn. Now Scharf has a new spirit he is excited to distribute and its made from honey. Scharf told the Villager in an email “The spirit is going to be called Honey Spirit, and the brand is Ellicottville Distillery.” He went on to say, “The label is going in a different direction than the Corn Whiskey and Vodka. The cost per bottle is going to be $44 at the distillery, and that has tax included.”
The launch for the Honey Spirit is scheduled for early December. The process to craft Honey Spirit starts with Scharf fermenting water diluted honey to mead, and then it is distilled to a spirit. This is a similar, but different process than creating spirits from grains. Mead is an ancient honey wine that has been traced back to China 7000 BC. According to Scharf the honey has to be mixed with water to ferment, as it is mostly sugar. This has to be done because sugar does not ferment. The diluted honey is then left to ferment which makes the alcohol. The final process before bottling is putting the distilled mead into oak barrels. Scharf was quoted saying that this process makes an interesting spirit, you can taste the honey but it’s not a sweet spirit.
Scharf uses only local products to make his spirits. He uses corn from fields owned by Charlie and Liz Bares for his Whiskey and Vodka and the honey for Honey Spirit is sourced locally as well by Bob Brachmann in Mansfield. The launch of Honey Spirit will be limited as Ellicottville Distillery has only bottled 400 units. The Villager asked Scharf about the new product, “This is more of a sipping whiskey,” Scharf said, “[I] haven’t had much of a chance to make up cocktail recipes for it yet.”
Scharf also said that he is taking orders and he has several clients already making pre-orders for Honey Spirit. He also lamented that the quantity is limited and he doesn’t know if he is going to make it again. The Villager also asked Scharf what he is working on for future spirits. He said, “[I] put up 12 barrels of bourbon and am starting test batches of gin. [I’m] also going to be working on bottling an apple sangria.”
Ellicottville Distillery is located about four miles from the Village of Ellicottville off Route 242 right before Ashford Junction at 5463 Robbins Road. They have an open house on Saturdays from 1-4pm and can be contacted by calling 716-307-1494. They also have a website ellicottvilledistillery.com.