SKANEATELES, NY (WSYR) — In the basement of an old paper mill in Skaneateles, you’ll find barrels, bottles and bags. Items all made in Central New York. You’ll also find a distiller named Chris Uyehara.
Chris Uyehara, Co-Owner and Distiller of Last Shot Distillery, said, “I’m from Honolulu, Hawaii. Born and raised there. I moved up here in 1990. At first I didn’t know how to get to the airport to fly back because the winters were kind of crazy for me.”
He traded the limitless sunshine and rainbows in Hawaii, for the cold snaps and snowstorms in New York. I know what you’re thinking; why would someone do that?
Uyehara said, “It was a lot easier raising a family up here, and I don’t regret it.”
He’s been a pastry chef for most of his life. In 2015, he decided to shake it up and try something new. What he learned later; it wasn’t so new after all.
Uyehara said, “I was talking to my sister one Sunday afternoon, it was snowing, we had a foot of snow on the driveway out here and I was sitting down in my showroom. I was bored so I called my sister and we were talking and she said ‘Oh did you know Grandma made whisky?’ I said, ‘What?!’ So I was kind of like, ‘Wow, it’s in my DNA!”.
His Grandparents immigrated from japan. His DNA is what drives him to constantly refine his practices and strive for perfection.
Uyehara took us through his showroom and explained, “This is my American whiskey, it took best in class, double gold and gold medal in New York International.”
In 2020 Chris applied to be a competitor on a national TV show. He was selected out of thousands of distillers to give it a shot, but the pandemic brought a twist.
Uyehara said, “I was bummed all year, I wanted to compete.”
Tennessee, where the show “Moonshiners: Master Distiller” is filmed, was a hot spot at the time and Uyehara couldn’t go. Little did he know that wasn’t his last shot.
Uyehara said, “During the summer, I got a phone call. They said, ‘Would you like to come on Master Distiller? I know you applied before.’ And I said, yes! I’m going.”
The episode is titled “World War of Whiskey”. He took his 4-Grain Malted Whiskey.
Chris Uyehara said, “If you like the candies, whoppers, you know that malty taste from the whoppers. It has that profile in my whisky.”
The profiles of Japan, to highlight his heritage, with the ingredients of Central New York. Incorporating key traditions and values Chris holds high on his shelf.
The Moonshiners: Master Distiller episode will air on The Discovery Channel on Wednesday, November 24 at 9 p.m.