“In 2004 I was working in a very small distillery with a great idea,” says Harry Gorman, the distiller at Vermont Spirits. “Vodkas made from sugar sources representative of [the state].”
“The maturing of this hobby slash business to a viable and sustainable business required a different sort of mind,” Gorman continues. “Steve [Johnson, the President and CEO of the distillery] brought this to the company in 2006, and together with our different roles, we have moved the company, both physically and figuratively, to a new place. Vermont Spirits is now a showplace and one of the Quechee area’s must-see attractions.”
Quechee, Vermont is home to the Quechee Gorge on the scenic Ottauquechee River. Gorman uses local spring water and maple sap from the nearby forests to craft his Vermont Gold Vodka. He uses the early-run sap to craft a limited edition of the spirit, and also distills milk sugar to make Vermont White Vodka. “Maple sap is collected in the spring from sugar maple trees. Milk sugar is a bi-product of cheese-making. It is found in the whey,” he says.
Gorman started making beer in the 1970s while he was living in England. Before joining the team at Vermont Spirits, he also lived in Ireland where he built a bio-gasoline facility and restored ancient stone ruins. Upon his return to the U.S., Gorman led the construction of the company’s new distillery and also co-designed and built much of the equipment and fluid-processing systems now in use.
Vermont Spirits’ president Johnson got into distilling through a different path. “My background is in commercial banking and journalism, and so my interest comes more from the business side of things,” he says. Johnson and Gorman play to their strengths to practice their passion — to produce the best possible spirits from interesting ingredients.
The duo is just as passionate about food as they are handcrafted spirits. Lovers of fine spirits naturally tend to be lovers of fine food, says Gorman. “The bar is like an extension of the kitchen,” adds Johnson. “Food pairing is increasingly popular with spirits, which makes total sense as the craft distilling industry has grown and consumers have so many more choices.”
Soon consumers will have even more choices from Vermont Spirits. Johnson says they have been aging a brandy for 5 years, and it will be released this fall. They will also soon release a new gin and a some brown spirits, all of which will stay true to their local, Vermont theme.
“I am proud to be a part of developing and producing a quality American spirits brand,” says Gorman. And we’re proud to say we drink it.