Caledonia Spirits, the Vermont-based distiller of Barr Hill Gin, Tom Cat Gin, and Barr Hill Vodka, open the doors to its new distillery in Montpelier recently. The 27,000-square-foot, sustainably-designed facility will help Caledonia Spirits meet demand of its Barr Hill spirits with a 10x increase in capacity, as well as pave the way for additional local jobs and increased visitors to Montpelier.
Beautifully situated along the banks of the Winooski River and just a short walk or bike ride from downtown Montpelier, Caledonia Spirits’ new distillery will give local residents and tourists, as well as members of Vermont’s agricultural community and burgeoning cocktail scene, an opportunity to sip world-class cocktails while learning about distillation and mixology. In addition to custom-built stills, the solar-powered facility will feature a cocktail bar, research and development center, retail shop, and an event space. Tours of the distillery, as well as free tastings featuring limited-release spirits, will be available to visitors.
“Our new home in Montpelier is a tremendous platform to share our passion for distillation, agriculture and cocktail culture,” said Ryan Christiansen, President and Head Distiller at Caledonia Spirits. “It gives us an opportunity to create a gathering place for the wonderful Vermont community that we so firmly believe in.”
Caledonia Spirits, which broke ground on its new distillery in August 2018, commercially distributes three award-winning, super-premium spirits that uniquely feature raw northern honey as a star ingredient. Available in 32 U.S. states, along with Puerto Rico, Canada (Quebec), Denmark, Hong Kong, and Japan, the distillery’s Barr Hill Gin has become a top choice at bars, restaurants, and retailers across the country. Now, with enhanced production capabilities and increased capacity, Caledonia Spirits will be able to introduce Barr Hill Gin, Tom Cat Gin, and Barr Hill Vodka to even more cocktail-loving customers.
As Vermont’s capital city, Montpelier draws legislators, tourists, and students, and its central location makes it a popular stop for travelers heading to the many ski mountains in the area or major cities like Montreal, Boston, and New York City. Caledonia Spirits is expecting to bring in hundreds of visitors per week, serving as an attractive destination for travelers – similar to the collection of globally renowned breweries in the area, as well as other nearby culinary landmarks like Ben and Jerry’s and Cabot Creamery.
“Montpelier is experiencing significant growth and development, so we’re certainly thrilled and honored to be playing a role in such an exciting time for the city,” Christiansen said. “Our home along the Winooski River and the newly expanded bike path, with rolling hills as a backdrop, is the perfect place for residents, visitors, and our employees to spend time together while enjoying world-class cocktails and learning about distillation.”
Founded in 2009 by Todd Hardie, a local beekeeper and farmer, Caledonia Spirits set out to create a gin unlike any other, using raw honey to capture complex botanical notes in a perfectly balanced spirit. With quality raw materials, innovative distilling methods, and a connection to the land, the Barr Hill brand was born – and so was its landcrafted approach, which is at the core of everything the distillery does to this day.
Now under the leadership of Christiansen, who purchased the company in 2015, a growing team of hardworking Vermonters is carrying forward Caledonia Spirits’ original mission of building strong relationships with regional farmers and beekeepers, creating quality jobs in the area, and raising awareness of the importance of bees. In fact, each September, Caledonia Spirits hosts Bee’s Knees Week, a nationwide cocktail fundraiser benefiting organizations that educate the public about the essential role bees and other pollinators play in our environment.
The distillery was designed with special attention to sustainability, featuring an 83.7kWdc rooftop solar array, as well as state-of-the-art systems for water and heat reclamation, spill containment and electric car charging. Although craft spirits is a growing industry, relatively few companies manage the full production process, from milling to mashing, fermentation, distillation, and packaging.
“Because Caledonia Spirits oversees each step of distillation, we were in a unique position to set the standard for how a distillery can be built in the Northeast U.S.,” said Christiansen. The new facility is estimated to use 83% less water per bottle of gin than the company’s previous facility, and waste from the distillery will be sent to the City of Montpelier’s biodigester to be used as a renewable fuel.
The new, multi-million dollar distillery ensures that Caledonia Spirits will keep all of its production in-house, leaving each spirit in the skillful hands of its distillers. The extra space and equipment in the new facility will allow Caledonia Spirits to produce more of its staple offerings, in addition to new spirits, including further installments from its Experiments in Agricultural Rectification (E.A.R.) program. The first batch from the program was a vodka distilled solely from pure Vermont maple syrup. These sought-after special releases will only be available for purchase from the new distillery.
“Our commitment to crafting high-quality spirits for our customers and partners is what drives us, and this new distillery will present us with opportunities that would have been hard to imagine several years ago,” Christiansen said. “We look forward to taking advantage of this amazing opportunity to serve more customers, work with additional farmers, and create new and innovative spirits in a sustainable way. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Caledonia Spirits and Barr Hill.”
Beginning on June 29, the Montpelier distillery will be open seven days a week: Sunday-Thursday (11 a.m. – 7 p.m.); Friday-Saturday (11 a.m. – 9 p.m.). For more information on hours, events, programs, and other happenings at the distillery, please visit www.barrhill.com.
Barr Hill distributes to 32 states, along with Puerto Rico, Canada (Quebec), Denmark, Hong Kong, and Japan.