Buffalo is making additional waves in the distilling industry. Business partners Nick “Spartacus” Kotrides and Eric Heuser have just signed a deal to open a 12,000 square foot distillery at 459 Ellicott Street next to the Washington Market. Called Niagara Distilling Company, the operation will include a tasting room, 500-gallon stills, a production facility and packaging and shipping areas. The business is slated to open before the holidays – owners have signed a lease and are meeting with architects currently.
After scouring the city for an appropriate location the owners chose Ellicott Street due to its proximity to other nearby developments that are underway. “We wanted to be in the heart of the action,” Nick told me. “We want to add to the momentum of growth in Downtown Buffalo. It’s so exciting to see Buffalo with multiple cranes in the sky. I’m not from Buffalo, but I’m a Buffalo backer through and through. I came here when I was 17. I opened Faherty’s on Elmwood 25 years ago, and then Toro next to that, and finally Empire Grill. I recently sold Empire Grill and am reinvesting in this distilling business. My partner Eric has been distilling spirits for ten years. He has close connections with a craft distiller in Chicago named Koval. Other cities/states have been producing spirits for years, and Buffalo/NYS is finally back in the business… we’re happy to be getting in relatively early since the new NYS laws have opened the doors for us.”
Sienna Realty recently purchased 459 Ellicott Street, which was being used as a storage facility. Soon Niagara Distilling Company will be producing vodkas, gins and even moonshine (for Bloody Mary’s). The company will also start the aging process for its whiskeys (bourbon and rye). “We are a scratch distillery,” stated Nick. “we will be going through the entire process, from grain mashing, fermenting, distilling to bottling. Our products will reflect what we love about Buffalo and the products that we use to make the spirits. Buffalo Creek Whiskey is named so because Buffalo was originally known as Buffalo Creek. Scarecrow vodka is corn based, gluten free, and GMO free. 1812 gin refers to the War of 1812 when Buffalo was burned to the ground. We’re going to have on-premise sales, where people can come and taste our spirits and make a purchase while they are at the distillery.”
Nick and Eric were determined to open up a distillery that could scale quickly. They will be able to accommodate high demands for the spirits as sales warrant, due to the size of the stills and the building. “We’re going to come out of the gate running,” said Nick. “We’ve been in the planning stages for a while and we’re happy to be moving forward at this point in time.”