Vermont Distillery Toasts New Expansion

Caledonia Spirits, the maker of the Barr Hill brand, is opening a new visitors' center this weekend

A growing artisan spirits business will open a new visitors’ center to the public this weekend in Vermont’s capital city.

“We are far more accessible,” said Ryan Christiansen of Caledonia Spirits. “A lot of our customers are driving to Vermont from Boston and Montreal.”

In eight years, the distillery known for its premium Barr Hill gins and vodka that incorporate raw honey has grown from its humble roots in the Northeast Kingdom. It now sells to customers in 32 states and as far away as Hong Kong.

The company's new, multi-million dollar production facility in Montpelier nearly quintuples the size of its old digs in Hardwick, and incorporates a visitors’ center.

In the visitors’ center, Sam Nelis offers pointers like when you should shake a drink, when you stir it, and what kind of glass it should be served in.

Nelis, the company’s beverage director, said consumers seem to really crave that kind of education.

“I feel that cocktails are obviously bigger than they’ve ever been,” Nelis added.

Montpelier’s mayor, Anne Watson, has seen how breweries, distilleries, and wineries have increasingly drawn travelers into communities all across the Northeast and beyond.

She told necn she is optimistic Caledonia Spirits will be a similar lure for the state’s capital city, perhaps boosting visits to its shops and restaurants.

“This is going to be a boon for us,” Watson said. “I think this is also going to be, potentially, a great stimulus for other value-added agriculture products in Montpelier.”

Christiansen said the new facility should help Caledonia Spirits continue its growth.

“We do want to make more, we want to make new products, we want to work with new farmers, we want to continue to innovate while we continue to grow the Barr Hill brand that we’ve built,” Christiansen added.

The Caledonia Spirits distillery and visitors’ center opens to the public June 27.

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