Much like Terry Jeffords from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Henry loves love. So weddings are always great, especially when there’s an open bar. But while I was in Vermont I ducked out of the festivities to relax for just a moment and check out a few nearby distilleries. Stonecutter Spirits was one I made a point of visiting after seeing their bottles in all of the liquor stores and bars I had stopped in so far.
The first thing I noticed walking into Stonecutter was how sleek everything was. It’s obvious that the placement of every item in the room was thought out and a lot of design went into planning the space. The tasting room looks and feels like a stylish startup or a studio apartment, comfortable and slightly on the smaller side but never crowded. You can see the owners’ offices right next door to everything along with a prep kitchen and a window to the only clean barrel room I’ve ever seen right behind the bar. Seriously, I’m sure there are things you can’t see from the window but when have you ever seen a barrel room that wasn’t about to explode with random storage? A very inviting space to say the least. I went in on an early Saturday afternoon right when they opened so I ran into maybe 6 other people while I was there. The bartender I spoke with was extremely hospitable and thoroughly knowledgeable on cocktails as well as the spirits they produce. I was only planning on tastings and one quick cocktail but I had such a good conversation with her I ended up staying for a few hours and a few more drinks.
Right now Stonecutter produces two spirits, a Single Barrel Gin and a Heritage Cask Whiskey. I always appreciate when a distillery decides to focus on a few select spirits instead of overextending themselves to make every kind of liquor under the sun. We’ve all seen craft distilleries that make a dozen different products that are all equally mediocre. I can understand the thought process of being able to offer something for everyone, but in most of the cases I’ve seen it just dilutes the brand. Most of the distilleries I’ve enjoyed and write about have a few mainstays whose quality they really hone in on for distribution, then maybe one or two experimental spirits they play around with to sell in the tasting room.
Stonecutter’s gin is made up of seven botanicals: juniper, coriander, cardamom, orange peel, licorice root, green tea, and rose petals. It is then aged for four months in ex-bourbon barrels (From somewhere in Kentucky, if I’m remembering that correctly). I thought the gin had a great body to it, just enough age to pull it all together while still keeping the flavor profiles of the botanicals. I thought the licorice root made for a great addition too. I think the flavor profile of this gin helped it stand out a little more in the cocktails I tried.
Their Heritage Cask Whiskey is very solid as well, it’s a rye-high bourbon mash (So also corn and barley) that is then aged in two different ex-bourbon barrels and then finished in cabernet barrels. Rye-high bourbons are my favorite so I’m a little biased, but their whiskey is pretty solid. Also the cabernet finishing doesn’t overtake the rest of the taste, which can happen is left in the barrel for too long.
My bartender was also completely transparent on their sourcing/aging/etc. which I think is a big part of succeeding as a craft distillery and gaining loyal fans. Sometimes the push for local products can cause people to ignore quality, which I think can be a big problem. Stonecutter currently sources their whiskey from Kentucky and their gin from an unnamed distillery in Vermont, then transported to Stonecutter for aging. And you know what? It tastes great! They also currently have a small batch whiskey aging that was distilled in Vermont using local corn and rye that is supposed to be released in 2019. In addition to that, the distillery just opened up a cocktail bar called Highball Social in Burlington that I unfortunately did not get a chance to visit. So definitely stop in if you’re taking a trip to Middlebury or Burlington.