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. This is where you will find a large red building that houses the Old Scotland Road Distillery.
“The way I came up with the name Scotland Road is how you get here downhill on the GPS, and any time you associate ‘old’ with whiskey, it’s good,” says distiller Dean Hyder .
Dean and his wife Debby are co-owners of the Old Scotland Road Distillery and the couple roll out craft spirits as bold as Dean’s handlebar mustache.
“It’s my brand, Handlebar Whiskey,” Dean says.
The distillery and tasting room sits on 60 acres of land owned by the Hyder family since 1965. Upon entering you wouldn’t know it, but until a few years ago whiskey making was just a a passing interest in Dean.
After serving as a chief petty officer in the US Navy and then a career in machine building and quality assurance, Dean was looking for a change. It was then that the Hyders decided to attend the famous Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
“It’s a really good hands-on, front-to-back workshop,” Dean said. “I look at the equipment, I look at the setup and I listen to what they teach me. I think I can do it.”
So the Hyder family took a leap of faith just before the pandemic hit.
“We’ve cashed in all of our IRAs, 401k’s, all of our retirement accounts. We’ve both pushed all the chips into the middle of the table. You’re currently retired. This has to work, this has to go”
And that’s the case.
The Old Scotland Road Distillery officially opened in 2020 with just one product. Since then it has expanded to nine, including white corn whiskey, flavored moonshine, aged bourbon and Krupnik, which is a traditional Polish honey liqueur and the distillery’s most popular product.
“Krupnik easily sells everything else 3 for 1,” Dean says. “People taste it, and say ‘I have to have it'”.
The proof is in the rewards. Old Scotland Road Distillery racked up the material, including the Governor’s Cup, for best in display, at the Great American Spirits Competition.
“It justifies what we’ve done. I can say things are good all day, but if people say things are good, that’s proof we’re doing something right.”
And all by hand, using ingredients sourced from New York State.
“We do what we call grain to glass,” Dean said. “Comes in bags, comes out in bottles.”
The distillery offers tours for those who are interested and Dean walked us through his setup and told us about his process for creating Handlebar Whiskey.
He showed us his stages of fermentation, distillation, pouring and bottling, all done on site. Every step has been performed with the utmost care and precision in an effort to create a high quality experience for anyone lucky enough to take a sip.
The Old Scotland Road Distillery is working to establish a family tradition of making fine spirits in Western New York for years to come.
“I went on this joint venture and it’s been very rewarding because we’re spending time together and working on something that will hopefully be bigger than us down the road,” Dean said with a smile.