BLACK BUTTON DISTILLING OPENS NEW TASTING ROOM AND DISTILLERY AT 1344 UNIVERSITY AVENUE, ROCHESTER
Local and State Elected Officials Join Black Button Distilling for
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Today; Grand Opening to the Public on July 15, 2023
Grand Opening Comes on the Heels of Gold and Silver Medals for Whiskey at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (JULY 11, 2023) -- Black Button Distilling, the first grain-to-glass craft spirits producer in Rochester, N.Y. since prohibition, today announced the opening of a new, expanded tasting room and distillery at 1344 University Ave., Rochester, with a ribbon cutting ceremony led by Founder/Master Distiller Jason Barrett.
Elected officials from local, state, and regional offices joined Black Button Distilling to commemorate the opening. Rochester Mayor Malik Evans; County Executive Adam Bello; NYS Assemblymember Harry Bronson; NYS Assemblymember Sarah Clark; Bob Duffy, President & CEO of Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce; and Don Jeffries, President & CEO of Visit Rochester presented remarks.
“We’re very proud to be joined by Rochester’s leaders and our hard-working partners who made this endeavor possible,” said Jason Barrett, Black Button Distilling Founder/Master Distiller. “This day officially marks the next chapter of Black Button Distilling and without these very people and the support of the local Rochester community, this project would not have been possible. The creation of this distillery in this historic building shows our commitment to the City of Rochester, its economic growth and the people who live and work here,” said Barrett.
Mayor Malik Evans stated: “I want to thank Jason and his team for the vote of confidence in the city of Rochester. They could have built this facility anywhere in the world, but they decided to build it here in Rochester. Jason and his team are also the textbook definition of stick-to-itiveness, the textbook definition of hanging in there of holding on and not letting go. There are so many businesses that are no longer with us because of the scourge of the pandemic. They were not able to survive. Not only did this business survive the pandemic, but they are thriving.” The mayor presented Barrett with a plaque to commemorate the occasion.
Adam Bello stated: “To do something like this took guts. Jason [Barrett] had to go out on his own to start this business. He took a huge risk…He’s a good example of why Rochester and Monroe County are a great place for small and entrepreneurs and small businesses to start and to grow, because you can find success here. Jason and Black Button are living proof that if you make a great product and work hard you can achieve really big things. This success story is something our entire small business community can learn from.” Bello also presented Barrett with a commemorative plaque.
Harry Bronson NYS Assemblymember: “We all know that small businesses come with a lot of challenges and oftentimes those challenges are the result of state laws and state regulations. It’s not easy to marshal your way through all of that bureaucracy. But Jason has done that. I’m glad to say that not only myself but the state delegation from the greater Rochester area helped him with that process so that he could fulfill his vision. Jason is a master distiller, but it takes more to run a business. It takes tenacity, it takes a willingness to learn, it takes a willingness to take on challenges. And Jason has done that, and this is the result right here.” “This really is a gem in our community. It’s going to add to the craft beverages that are along this corridor. It’s going to add to bringing more people to the city of Rochester.”
Sarah Clark, NYS Assemblymember spoke about the production tax credit for distilleries. “In this year’s budget we finally got parity for our distillers across our state to ensure that they are actually getting back the rebate that they deserve from the production tax credit. This is on average $60,000 per distiller that they’ll be able to invest in their workforce, equipment, new amazing spaces like this and we are really excited to see what this will do to the industry…Our state is second in distilleries in the nation. It is over a $3B industry. Our payroll in the distilling industry is well over $300M dollars. This is real stuff that really impacts people and is transformative for our communities.”
Bob Duffy, President & CEO Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce “Black Button is the first distillery in the city of Rochester since prohibition,” he said. “This is a place that is growing so fast and defines a great part of our economy. [The new distillery]… is going to add so much vitality and link Neighorhood of the Arts with Browncroft and everything in-between.”
Finally, Don Jeffries, President & CEO of Visit Rochester remarked that “I want to thank Jason. You have created a tourism destination. This is something we can show off to our travel writers and meeting planners and I want to congratulate everyone at Black Button.”
Black Button Distilling, a locally founded and owned business, has operated for over a decade in Rochester. At 28,000 sq. ft., the new distillery and tasting room at 1344 University Ave. is quadruple the size of the former location. Average annual spirits production will increase from 1,000 barrels of spirits per year to as much as 4,500 barrels in the first few years. This move is anticipated to add 10- 20 jobs to the company within the first year, and up to 50 jobs in the years to come.
The Tasting Room’s retail space has grown to 4,500 sq., allowing for significantly increased seating capacity, private event space, distillery events and expanded hours of operation for the public. It joins numerous restaurants, breweries, a winery and a cidery to the Rochester’s growing East Side Culver-University-East (CUE) neighborhood adjacent to the popular Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA) area and North Winton Village.
Black Button Distilling is the story of Rochester area family businesses that span generations. Barrett’s grandfather owned a button factory in Rochester, and as a kid, Jason imagined himself running the factory one day. But, Jason is colorblind. Since making only black buttons wasn’t an option, he decided to honor the values of hard work, entrepreneurship, and community that his grandfather taught him by pouring them into his passion for crafting handmade spirits. That passion has earned the distillery countless accolades, including landing on the Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing companies four times in the past five years.
Today, Black Button spirits are going head-to-head with Kentucky’s finest. Most recently, Black Button’s Cask Strength Bourbon was awarded a Gold Medal at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Empire Rye Whiskey won a silver at the same competition. Over the years, Black Button Distilling has earned dozens of medals from spirit competitions across the globe, including winning Best in NY State from the 2021 Heartland Whiskey Competition, while also tying for best bourbon in the same competition with a Kentucky made Bourbon. In 2021, Black Button Distilling also received a 90-point rating by Whiskey Advocate for its Cask Strength Four Grain Bourbon, a true accomplishment for Rochester’s first bourbon produced since prohibition. Whisky Advocate gave Black Button’s Cask Strength Straight bourbon (Batch 4) 90 points, calling it “complex and layered on the nose.” Larry Olmsted of Forbes said, “The Four Grain Straight Bourbon from Black Button Distilling is one of the best whiskies I have recently tasted.”
And, as one of the six founding distilleries of Empire Rye, Black Button Distilling is part of a push to bring New York State’s unique rye whiskey tradition to the world. Today, this group is committed to the Empire Rye designation and seal of authenticity, which requires the use of local grains and other standards. Forbes called Black Button’s Empire Rye “extremely good.”
Black Button Distilling’s new tasting room and distillery will open to the public on July 15th with a grand opening celebration from noon to 6 p.m.
ABOUT: Black Button Distilling was founded in 2012 by Master Distiller Jason Barrett and was the first distillery to operate in “The Flour City” since prohibition. As a grain-to-glass craft spirits producer, Black Button is a licensed New York State Farm Distillery and uses nearly 100% New York State grown ingredients that come from within 50 miles of the distillery. Best known for its Four Grain Straight Bourbon, Bespoke Bourbon Cream and botanical gins like Citrus Forward and seasonal Lilac, Black Button’s spirits are available at its new location at 1344 University Avenue in Rochester, in liquor stores throughout New York State and online at www.blackbuttondistilling.com.