Inside the long, brick building on the corner of Varick Street, alcohol ferments in large containers that make the room feel reminiscent of Willa Wonka’s factory. The 1920s bank vault at the back of the room holds nearly 20 barrels of bourbon that will age for two years and be released as The Vault Series. The two distillery cats, Gin and Tonic, eagerly rush up to patrons, hoping to be pet.


June 14 is National Bourbon Day, and for Adirondack Distilling Company in Utica, the holiday marks five years of serving up the smoky spirit. The building was originally opened in the early 1920s as a bank (hence, the vault), but didn’t become a distillery until Jordan Karp, Bruce Elwell and Steve Cox opened their doors in 2012. They debuted their bourbon on National Bourbon Day two years later.

Karp said bourbon is special because it has to age in new charred American oak barrels.

“That’s the definition of bourbon," Karp said. "It’s an American spirit.”

This is also what makes their 601 Special Series of bourbon whiskey so unique. Adirondack sends their used bourbon barrels to maple syrup companies, who store their syrup in the containers and then send them back to the distillery. Adirondack then uses these barrels to finish the 601 Special Series, giving it a natural maple syrup taste as opposed to one that was chemically-created.

“There’s still maple syrup soaked into that wood,” Karp said.


Adirondack uses local, gluten-free ingredients in all of their products, which also include vodka, gin and white whiskey. They offer tours of the distillery and samples of their products by appointment through their website.

Chris Janson got to 'sample' the product during FrogFest a few years ago.