He had a lot of material to work with when he set about naming his business back in 2012. He was about to open the first grain- to- glass distillery in Rochester, New York since Prohibition; he was about to join a fellowship of state-wide farm distillers who craft solely from NY grains; and he was about to become one of the youngest master distillers in their ranks at just 24-years- old. But the owner and head distiller of Black Button Distilling, Jason Barrett, had something better – something with even more substance – in mind. “My family has manufactured buttons for four generations and as a kid, when I would work in the factory sorting buttons, I wasn’t very good at it,” Jason explained. “When

I was about seven-years- old, we found out that I am colorblind. The joke became that if I took over the factory, we would have to only make black buttons. So, now, I do make black buttons – just the liquid kind,” he laughed. But the actual buttons that inspired the name Black Button Distilling are no laughing matter, Jason explained. “My mother is the president of Shantz and Associates today, but the story of that company goes back to time of World War One. It has survived the Depression, two major recessions, two world wars, and here it is now into the fourth generation. Those buttons have even closed suits worn by presidents, popes, and kings.” The Black Button Distilling logo is as much a symbol of the American entrepreneurial spirit as it is a stamp of excellence in an industry that’s all about “raw ingredients and raw product.”

By David MacDonald B ooming!” Jason bellowed when I asked him how the craft distillery industry in NY State was doing. “Well, in our first full year back in 2013 we did $62,000 in sales and now we are doing that amount roughly every ten days. New York has some of the best laws for craft distilling. We can have tasting rooms, sell bottles and self-distribute. Add in a very supportive population and it’s a great recipe for success. Last I heard there were 180 craft distillers in the state, and 115 of them were farm distillers like us.” “Distillers are usually very friendly with each other,” he continued. “There are only so many folks who are going through what you’re going through. And who else can you geek out with about yeast cell wall health and industry shop talk. Plus, we all help each other find good vendors, good distributors. Last but certainly not least, most distillers are good people who enjoy a good drink and a good time. So, it’s no surprise that we enjoy each other’s company.” For Jason, these good libations, or rather, vibrations are an integral part to Black Button’s continuing success. In early 2016, Black Button Distilling capped 642 bottles of Collab- oration Whiskey with The O’Begley Distillery of Pittsford, NY. “Black Button and O’Begley have grown up alongside each other in Rochester. What I love most about craft distill- ing is that we come together as a community to help each other. To put our collective skills together for this unique blend of whiskey has been a great learning experience and an opportunity to bring a unique bottling to the Roches-



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