The wine world also has blockbusters, wines so famous that even non-wine drinkers are on
‘Wine is one of the agreeable and
essential elements of life.’
Robert Frost famously said that good fences make good neighbors. Not to contradict the former poet laureate of Vermont, but I think good spirits also make good neighbors. We love to do business as locally as possible, so when we can, we prioritize sourcing interesting and delicious spirits from right here in New England. The rewards of this strategy are numerous: less environmental impact, more of our dollars staying in the local and regional economy, and the ability to form real relationships with the people behind the beverages. Sometimes, we even get the opportunity to pick out something special that is ours, and ours alone.
A couple weeks ago, I drove up to Vermont’s Mad River Valley to visit John, Maura, and Mimi at Mad River Distillers, intent on just that: a singular spirit for Pour Richard’s. And I found one, but that’s not the whole story.
I’d arranged this as a two day trip, thinking that tasting whiskey all afternoon wouldn’t mix well with a 400+ mile round trip. I envisioned booking an Airbnb, and heading back home early the next morning. That is not remotely what actually happened.
First, Maura informed me that I was staying at her house. When I arrived, we walked up to the distillery to deliver lunch to the staff, then back down to the house for a snack. Maura took me on a mini-tour of some of her favorite spots in the Valley. We tasted some whiskey, picked apples, tasted more whiskey, then made and ate an enormous dinner, accompanied by excellent wine and great conversation with some truly fun people. In the morning, I went on a hike and returned for a hot shower and fine lunch before hitting the road. So yes-I found a wonderful barrel of Rye (more on that later), but I also really got to know the lovely people behind the Mad River spirits.
Mad River Distillery is real people in an actual place, distilling spirits from largely local ingredients, contributing to the very seasonal Valley economy all year around. These are exactly the kind of products we are proud to carry. That barrel of Rye? We expect it mid-October. It tastes like a sublime slice of chocolate cake had a love child with a glass of whiskey. But it also tastes like good neighbors.