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First Distillery in Oswego County Up and Running Three cousins in Phoenix poised to prosper as craft beverage industry takes off


eer isn’t the only liquid libation that is being buoyed by the bountiful craft beverage industry boom in New York state. While craft brewers are lauding state efforts at streamlining the production process, those distilling spirits are just as pleased. The state has worked with the industry — including independent brewers, vintners and distillers — to change laws and add business-friendly legislation, including two new farm-based manufacturing licenses and tax incentives. Lock 1 Distilling Co., 17 Culvert St., Phoenix, is on the threshold of an industry that is on the path to prosperity. The business, founded in 2015, is owned and operated by three cousins — Stephen and Kevin Dates, and Brenden Backus. Stephen focuses on sales, while Brenden is the master distiller and head of production. Kevin handles operations and maintenance. The cousins started the process in 2015. It took them a year to get licensed through the federal government, and several months from the state. The business is located near Lock 1 on the Oswego Canal and is the only distillery in Oswego County. “Because we’re a New York Class D farm distillery, the license was not necessarily easier to get, but it was a lot cheaper,” said Stephen Dates. The new farm distillery law has dramatically changed costs. A Class A distiller’s license was $26,000 a year; today, it is approximately $17,000 per year. Meanwhile, a Class D farm distillery’s license is $937 for three years. As per the license, 75 percent of ingredients must come from New York state, and the business is allowed to produce a maximum of 75,000 gallons annually. Farm distilleries are also limited to 750 milliliter bottles. A turning point for the business


Co-owners Stephen Dates, left, joins Brendan Backus at Lock 1 Distilling Co., Phoenix. The business is quickly becoming popular for its Ryze vodka. Dates is responsible for sales, while Backus is the master distiller and production manager. occurred recently when its building renovation project received $338,000 as part of a Restore New York grant. The village of Phoenix — eligible for $500,000 in funding — approached the owners and encouraged them to apply for funding to renovate their building. “We submitted our building idea and it qualified,” Dates said. The new facility “is going to be something to look at,” said Backus, noting new siding, roofs, windows, doors and energy efficiency will be featured. “The front is going to be all glass and all tasting room,” he added. He noted patrons can enjoy a cocktail as well as food. “We’re also going to rent out space so people will be able to hold events

here,” he said. Its state license allows the business to carry other New York state products, such as cheese, wine and beer. The most recent legislation passed allows distilleries to serve New York state wine and beer by the glass. “You can come in with your significant other, and if they don’t like distilled spirits, they can have wine or beer. It gives us the opportunity to be more diverse and appeal to different tastes,” Dates said. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the current legislation in New York state,” Backus said. “Just with the cost of getting licensing and doing this business, we wouldn’t have even looked into it with the old legislation. It was just too expensive. You had to have a huge




OCBM Issue #152 Oct-Nov 17  
OCBM Issue #152 Oct-Nov 17