NEWSTEAD (WKBW) — Looking for locally distilled fine spirits? Grab your whiskey loving friends and take a trip down Scotland Road just outside the Village of Akron. That's where you will find a big red building which is the home of Old Scotland Road Distillery.
"The way I came up with the name is Scotland Road is how you get here coming down on GPS, and whenever you put "old" together with whiskey, it's good," says distiller Dean Hyder.
Dean and his wife Debby are co-owners of Old Scotland Road Distillery and the couple is rolling out handcrafted spirits as bold as Dean's signature handlebar mustache.
"That's my brand, Handlebar Whiskey", says Dean.
The distillery and tasting room sit on 60 acres of land which has been owned by the Hyder family since 1965. Walking in you wouldn't know it, but up until a few years ago making whiskey was only a passing interest for Dean.
After serving as a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy, and then a career in machine building and quality assurance, Dean was looking for a change. That's when the Hyders decided to attend the celebrated Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
"It's a hands on, back and forth, really good workshop", said Dean. "I'm looking at the equipment, looking at the setup, and listening to what they are teaching me. I'm thinking, I can do this."
So they Hyder family took a leap of faith right before the pandemic.
"We cashed in all of our IRAs, 401ks, all of our retirement accounts. Both of us pushed all the chips into the middle of the table. You are standing in our retirement right now. It has to work, it has to go"
And it has.
Old Scotland Road Distillery officially opened in 2020 with only a single product. Since then it has expanded to nine including white corn whiskey, flavored moonshine, aged bourbon and Krupnik, which is a traditional Polish honey liquor, and the distillery's most popular product.
"Krupnik easily outsells everything else 3-to-1", says Dean. "People taste it, and say 'I have to have it' ".
The proof is in the awards. Old Scotland Road Distillery has been piling up the hardware including the Governor's Cup, for Best in Show, at The Great American Spirits Competition.
"It justifies what we have done. I can say the stuff is good all day long but if people say the stuff is good that's vindication that we are doing something right."
And doing it all by hand, using ingredients sourced from New York State.
"We do what we call grain to glass," said Dean. "Comes in in bags, goes out in bottles."
The distillery offers tours to those who are interested and Dean walked us through his setup, and talked us through his process for creating Handlebar Whiskey.
He showed us his steps for fermentation, distilling, pouring and bottling, all done on site. Each step was done with the utmost care and precision in an effort to create to a high quality experience for all that are lucky enough to take a sip.
Old Scotland Road Distillery working to establish a family tradition of crafting fine spirits in Western New York for years to come.
"Went into this joint venture and it's been very rewarding because we get to spend time together and work at something that hopefully will be bigger than us down the road," said Dean with a smile.