MEET THE CRAFT BEVERAGE PRODUCERS BRINGING DISTILLING BACK TO LIVCO FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE PROHIBITION
Alcohol has always been artisanal in New York, where the spirit of inventive brewers and distillers dates back to the colonial era. Sip on innovative local libations for a true taste of Upstate New York at LivCo's first distillery since prohibition.
Woodlawn Distilling, in Linwood, New York, is the first distillery in the region since the 1800s. The history of distilling dates back to 1802 when the whiskey tax was repealed and the Golden Age of New York distilling began. Farm distilleries were established across the state, including in the Genesee River Valley. However, by the 1880s, large business interests forced the closure of most of New York’s legal distilleries. Fast forward to the present day and you'll find Matthew and Jaclyn Morgan at Woodlawn Distilling, the first distillery in LivCo in almost 200 years.
Woodlawn Distilling is serving up a variety of high-quality, distilled libations using local ingredients and flavors. Stop into their red barn distillery and tasting room to enjoy a flight of spirits, seasonal cocktails, kid-friendly drinks, and food trucks (on certain days). Woodlawn Distilling offers a variety of spirits including whiskey, vodka, moonshine, and gin, sourcing their grain right from the land of their fourth-generation farm. While visiting, you can shop their spirits to-go as well as their signature merchandise or online at www.woodlawn-distilling.com.
MEET MATTHEW + JACLYN MORGAN
Tell us a little bit about Woodlawn Distilling and why you decided to start a distillery.
Woodlawn Distilling is a first-generation distillery, supported by a fourth-generation farm. The Morgan Family began our venture into distilling in the summer of 2020. What started out as a curiosity quickly turned into a peaked interest. Different members of the family had interests in different liquors, from bourbon and whiskey to vodka and gin. After some exploration, we found that there hasn’t been a distillery in LivCo since prohibition, and this inspired us to take the leap and see what would happen. Almost 3 years later, we are proud to open our doors to the public. As a farm distillery, our ingredients come from New York State grains and products, and our aim is to source as much as possible from the family farm, Woodlawn Farms.
Why did you open your business in LivCo?
As life-long residents of LivCo, we knew that we wanted the distillery to take up residency in the place we call home. Our great-grandparents moved to Linwood in 1943 and began building a legacy that we are proud to carry on.
What’s the best thing about being in LivCo?
Livingston County and all of its residents feel like home. Every day at the distillery feels like some kind of reunion. We love to see old friends run into each other and strangers become new friends. Our tasting room has become a gathering place for all of LivCo and its visitors.
What sets Woodlawn Distilling apart from other distilleries?
Woodlawn Distilling is very proud to be producing our spirits from grain grown on our own farm, while also finding ways to support local businesses and reinforce the strong community ties that are already established. The support from other local businesses has built the foundation for the growth of LivCo businesses. The distilling community in New York State has been so supportive and we have been lucky to have guidance and support from some of the best distilleries in the state. We have miles between and yet still feel connected.
What’s your favorite thing on your menu right now?
Oooh this is such a hard question and if you asked any of us, we would all have a different answer! Our menu aims to meet the preferences of anyone who walks into our tasting room. We have a wide range of cocktails that go from sweet, to tart, and even a little spicy. Our spirits aim to do the same! Jaclyn’s favorite is anything made with Junie’s Lemon Lavender Gin (and not just because Junie is her dog!); the Bramble is a delicious combination of sweet and tart, combining lemon and blackberry for a refreshing drink. If you were to walk in and ask Matt what to order, you will undoubtedly hear the Vodka Sour, which combines the tartness of citrus and the smoothness of Vi’s Vodka, a triple-distilled, wheat vodka.
Where can people buy your liquors?
We always have our liquors for sale by the bottle in our tasting room, open Friday through Sunday. We also have an order ahead for pick-up option on our social media and website. Sam has taken the lead in getting our products into liquor stores and restaurants near you. Currently, we are in TJ’s Liquors and Wine in Retsof.
What’s coming up for Woodlawn this Spring/Summer?
Our wheels haven’t stopped turning since we opened our doors in October! We are very excited about the release of our Amaretto, coming this Spring. We are also hopeful that we will have an aged whiskey ready in late Summer. We also have Bourbon, Rye Whiskey, Malted Whiskey, and Dry Gin in the recipe process. As the weather warms up, we plan to have food trucks and a wide variety of events such as live music, bingo, and trivia nights.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
The most important thing to opening our business was finding good mentors within and outside of the business that were willing to guide us. A piece of advice that we would give is to not be afraid to just “jump in feet first” and go for it.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We are so thankful for the outpouring of support we have received from LivCo residents in visits, recommendations, and word of mouth! We hope to be able to serve the community in many ways and hope to see familiar and new faces in our tasting room and at events!