As the summer season begins to ramp up, we will soon enjoy the farm-to-table bounty of the Rochester and Finger Lakes region. As you bite into the delicious tomato on top of your burger, you may think about how lucky we are to have access to locally grown and raised foods. As you sip your beer, you may think about the local hops aplenty. As you enjoy your wine you may consider the amazing varieties of grapes and the impact of our terroir.

But have you thought about how your cocktail came to fruition?

You can thank a farmer for that, too.

This is a special summer for Black Button Distilling, as we’re celebrating a decade of crafting grain to grass craft spirits in Rochester. And we couldn’t have done it anywhere else. As a New York State Farm Distillery, over 90% of our ingredients are grown or produced in New York state.

From the water we use, which comes from the Genesee Valley aquifer, to the grains from nutrient rich soil at Edgewood Farms in Groveland, the bounty of this region is reflected in our spirits. And we have farmers to thank for it. Without farms we’d have no grain. Without grain, we’d have no bourbon.

According to the New York Farm Bureau, New York is a leading agricultural state, worth $5.75 billion in revenue 2017 (latest data available). According to the USDA 2017 Ag Census, there were 33,438 farms in New York and 98% of farms in New York are family owned.

In addition to contributing to making the best tasting spirits around, using locally farmed ingredients helps the local economy and local families. We strongly believe that supporting local businesses contributes to the overall health of our region’s economy. In addition to supporting local farms like Edgewood, our growth supports adjacent supplier companies like Murmuration Malts, O-AT-KA Dairy Products, Adirondack Barrel Cooperage.

And, as one of the six founding distilleries of Empire Rye, we’re part of a push to bring New York state’s unique rye whiskey tradition to the world. Today, this group is committed to the Empire Rye designation and seal of authenticity, which requires the use of local grains and other standards. We look forward to bringing New York State spirits to the forefront nationally — and beyond.

So, as we celebrate a decade of Black Button Distilling spirits this summer, which included National Bourbon Day on June 14, raise your rocks glass to farmers because without farms, there’d be no bourbon.

Jason Barrett is the Founder/Master Distiller of Black Button Distilling, the first craft distillery in Rochester since Prohibition. Barrett is also the founder of Black Button Farm & Forestry, a 19-acre farm in South Bristol.


  • Farm To Table
  • Jason Barrett
  • Black Button Distilling
  • New York State Farn Distillery
  • Genesee Valley
  • New York Farm Bureau
  • Empire Rye
  • Bourbon

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