Sunday, January 1, 2017

Newest Vermont craft distiller showing off a few twists

New York State's craft distilling scene isn't the only one in the Northeast showing growth. Neighboring Vermont, known more for its craft breweries, just added a spirits manufacturer in Cabot and another is in development in Barre.

Not counting those two, the Distilled Spirits Council of Vermont lists 16 other commercial distilleries in the state. The fact that the trade organization this month is marking only its sixth anniversary shows the relative newness of the industry. Of course, New York State's number of farm distilleries has nearly doubled in the past two years to  more than 100 craft distillers, but we're talking about a tiny state with a total population that is only about two-thirds that of the Capital Region alone.

The newest to go into operation is Hooker Mountain Farm, where Kempton and Carrie Randolph already had been in the artisan soda business in addition to producing vegetables, beef and poultry, among other things.

They say they are the first craft distillery in Vermont to use homegrown ingredients. But, that is  not their only hook.They also are putting a bit of a twist on their finished products, as they outlined to the local publication Seven Days.

"When liquor comes off the Randolphs' still, it's just shy of 100%  alcohol. To cut their mixed-grain Sap [brand] whiskey to a saleable 90 proof (that's 45%  alcohol), they add maple sap from the farm's sugaring operation. After that, the liquor ages on maple wood, which adds a subtle vanilla flavor.

"This summer, the farm grew a 'greenhouse full of crazy hot peppers,' Carrie says. Now those habaneros and ghost peppers bring the heat to the farm's Wood Heat [brand] potato whiskey, which also picks up smoke from charred ash wood."

Hooker Mountain Farm is located at 1193 Lovely Road, Marshfield. Phone: (802)-426-2052.

In Barre, Old Route Two Spirits is in the works at 69 Pitman Road, in the Websterville area. Co-owners Adam Overbay, Jennifer West and Ryan Dumperth plan a "locavore" ingredient model concentrating on production of gin and whiskey, along with rum made from imported molasses and sugar. Also contemplated are micro-batches of local-ingredient liqueurs. They hope to open a tasting room and have products on the market this spring.
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd On Drinks
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

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