Made in Central New York: Old Home Distillers puts Lebanon on world stage

Made in CNY

LEBANON, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Set up in Madison County’s picturesque farm country, Old Home Distillers is making an international name for the Town of Lebanon.

Just off Campbell Road or Route 71 in Lebanon, the Carvell brothers are perfecting their whiskey bourbon and gin that’s “Made in Central New York.”

Aaron and Adam are home again.

“My brother Adam contacted me back in 2014 and asked me if I wanted to come home,” Aaron said. “I didn’t really want to come home at that time but when he explained it was to open a craft distillery in our hometown, I couldn’t resist.”

Adam left Arizona to return to Central New York and Aaron left the south island of New Zealand.

The brothers say they feel added pride each time a piece of their hometown is poured and tasted.

Next to their tasting room and tour times, you may have seen Old Home Distillers at the CNY Regional Market, the Cazenovia Farmers Market, Hamilton Farmers Market, and Oneida County Public Market.

“I think it’s really a nice moment when we go out there in the world and people start to recognize the place,” Adam shared. “They say, ‘Oh Lebanon, That’s where the distillery is.’ I think that’s been a kind of unique thing that’s happened over the years as we’ve been going here. People are starting to kind of recognize the area and have been out here for the first time. We’re bringing people out here who would otherwise never come out.”

Long before bottling the Signature Brother’s Cut Straight Whiskey Bourbon, or a maple or spiced batch, there’s a process that all happens on the property that includes a 100-year-old horse barn. The Carvell family working together to renovate and restore it while also making an addition to store barrels.

“I think the most interesting thing for us is literally teaching people about it,” Adam said. “There’s always this expectation that spirits are just spirits and that people will drink what they drink when they don’t really know what it is. They’ve been drinking whiskey their whole lives or have been drinking gin since college and they never learn anything about it.”

What goes into each batch is local.

“The grain went from Canastota or Bouckville to the malt house and back to us,” Adam said. “The corn was grown in Vernon and then shipped to us and then right into the mash. All that’s very important to us.”

Local ingredients then flow through a still made in Cicero before a spirit is stored in barrels from Adirondack Barrel Cooperage.

Old Home Distillers has already won its fair share of awards. The Carvell brothers just picked up two international awards this year.

Spirits from producers around the world were entered in the 2019 Great American International Spirits Competition held May 4 and 5 in Rochester.

More than 300 entries were evaluated by a panel of experts including master distillers, certified spirits educators, brand ambassadors, retailers, importers, and spirits industry writers and consultants. Out of the 200 entries receiving awards, only 13 Gold and 50 Silver medals were given.

Old Home Distillers won a rare gold medal for its Brothers’ Cut Straight Bourbon Whiskey in the “Small Batch Bourbon 10 Years and Younger” category and a silver medal for its New York Single Malt Whiskey in the “American Craft Whiskey” category.

“Usually we don’t put a lot of credit in chasing medals but in this instance, we said, look we got some really good stuff, let’s spend the money, enter in a couple of spirits and see what happens,” Aaron said. “I forgot that it’s really big news — we’re two kids from the middle of nowhere making whiskey in a barn. To win, and on the international level, is really exciting.”

Currently, the brothers are working on two new spirits that are in the research and development stage.

“As a New York state farm distillery, it’s really important for us to point out that we are 100 percent New York state base grade,” Aaron said. “We don’t ferment anything that grows from out of state, we don’t use any cane sugar in any part of our process. If we’re going to sweeten any of our spirits, we would use a New York state sweetener like maple syrup.”

To learn more about Old Home Distillers and which stores you can find their spirits in — click here.

For more local stories and posts by Farah Jadran, follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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