News & Events

By in Media & Events Comments Off on Mad River Rye Finished in Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Barrels.

Mad River Rye Finished in Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Barrels.

The Mad River Valley Meets Napa Valley

In the almost-famous Mad River Valley, five villages and two ski areas abut rolling farmland along the flank of Vermont's Green Mountains. And since 2014, the Mad River Valley has become known for whiskey, among other grain-based libations.

Mad River Distillers ferments, distills and bottles a variety of whiskeys at their Warren, VT-based farm for distribution in New England, New York and California. One of the perennial best sellers is Revolution Rye, a whiskey distilled with roasted 'chocolate' rye from the Northeast, which adds a complex and aromatic cocoa/mocha note to the spicy nature of the organic rye grains.

A collaboration between the distillery and Caskforce

In 2018, Nick O’Connell approached Mad River Distillers with the idea for a unique collaborative whiskey, and the distillery jumped at the opportunity. O’Connell is the founder of Caskforce, a Boston-based retailer that curates cask- finished whiskey. He had his eye on some Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon barrels and thought a potential pairing between the wine barrels and Mad River Distillers Revolution Rye would work well together. Silver Oak ages their Cabernet in toasted American oak barrels, which both complements and contrasts the charred American oak in which the whiskey is matured.

O'Connell sourced the barrels and shipped them to Vermont, where Mad River Distillers filled the previous red wine-filled casks with aged Revolution Rye, a unique style whiskey with a rare 100 percent rye mashbill. With only five barrels aged in the Mad River Distillers rickhouse, the new limited release showcases the strengths of both the wine and the whiskey.

“I THOUGHT THE DARK BERRY AND WHITE PEPPER NOTES OF THE SILVER OAK CABERNET CASKS WERE THE PERFECT COMPLEMENT TO THE RICH COCOA NOTES OF MAD RIVER’S RYE WHISKEY,” O'CONNELL NOTED.

Mad River Distillers head distiller Alex Hilton agreed; ”The Silver Oak Cellars barrels heightened the roasted notes of the chocolate rye in our mashbill, while adding a lush velvet smoothness to the mouthfeel of the whiskey.”

The Mad River Rye Whiskey Finished in Silver Oak Barrels is priced at $54.99 per bottle and available beginning Friday, November 20 in Massachusetts and Vermont.

In MA:

November 20 - Dec 3 Exclusive at at Post Road Liquors in Wayland, Mass., and Upper Falls Beverage in Needham, Mass.

December 4th Onward Post Road Liquors, Wayland, Upper Falls Beverage, Needham, Julio's Liquors, Westborough. Check back for more retailers.

In VT: November 20 Onward

Mad River Taste Place, 89 Mad River Green, Waitsfield, VT 05673. Open Mon-Sat 10 am-6 pm

Mad River Distillers, 137 St. Paul St. Burlington, VT 05401. Open Wed-Sun 2-6 pm

Whiskey Wednesday at Brady's Restaurant

Join us at Brady’s Restaurant in Leominster, MA for Whiskey Wednesday! This ticketed whiskey dinner includes a 4-course meal with cocktail pairings, featuring our Maple Rum, Apple Brandy, Burnt Rock Bourbon and Revolution Rye. Plus, there will be Mad River Distillers trivia and prizes. 

 

Tasting at Liberty Liquors

Join Mad River Distillers on Friday, October 22nd at Liberty Liquors. There will be complimentary tastings from our line of spirits between 4:00-6:00 PM (EDT). Feel free to ask questions! Bottles will be available for purchase.

Southern Vermont Flannel Festival

Join us at the 2nd Annual Southern Vermont Flannel Festival as we celebrate community and autumn in Vermont. Hosted by the Great Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce, there will be live music by The Breakmaids, Debbie & The Downers, Springfield Stringers, Low Lily, and The Stockwell Brothers. There will also be a pie bake-off, corn hole tournament, food, drink, and craft vendors. We'll be there, serving up tastings and offering bottles for purchase.

Tasting at Pioppi’s

Join Mad River Distillers on Saturday, October 16th at Pioppis Plymouth. There will be complimentary tastings from our line of spirits between 2:00-5:00 PM (EDT). Feel free to ask questions! Bottles will be available for purchase.

Southern Vermont Flannel Festival

Join us at the 2nd Annual Southern Vermont Flannel Festival as we celebrate community and autumn in Vermont. Hosted by the Great Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce, there will be live music by The Breakmaids, Debbie & The Downers, Springfield Stringers, Low Lily, and The Stockwell Brothers. There will also be a pie bake-off, corn hole tournament, food, drink, and craft vendors. We'll be there, serving up tastings and offering bottles for purchase. 

Tasting at Sullivan Wine & Spirits

Join Mad River Distillers on Friday, October 15th at Sullivans Wareham. There will be complimentary tastings from our line of spirits between 4:00-6:00 PM (EDT). Feel free to ask questions! Bottles will be available for purchase.

 

Tasting at Jack o Lantern Liquors

Join Mad River Distillers on Thursday, October 14th at Jack o Lantern Liquors. There will be complimentary tastings from our line of spirits between 6:00-8:00 PM (EDT). Feel free to ask questions! Bottles will be available for purchase.

 

By in Blog Comments Off on Must-Have Items For Your Home Bar

Must-Have Items For Your Home Bar

If you’re new to the home cocktail-making game, knowing exactly what you need to mix up your favorite drinks from the comfort of home can be a bit of a question mark. Once you hit the search engine and type in barware, an endless stream of suggestions pop up. 

Like most things, barware comes in both the “need to have” and “nice to have” categories. As a spirits company with our own Tasting Room—where we mix up all kinds of tasty adult beverages on the regular—it was important to us to select and sell barware that we know from experience is both useful and high quality. 

Here, we share the top “must have” items to set your home bar up for success. 

image of two jiggers on a shelf

Jigger

As the saying goes, “a good bartender always measures,” so this is perhaps the most essential item to have when making your own cocktails. A jigger is a helpful bar tool used to measure the liquid before you add it to a cocktail. These allow bartenders to portion the correct amount of liquid, so the drinks taste consistent each time. At Mad River, there are two main styles that we carry—a traditional Japanese style, and a Leopold Style.

image of interlocking shaker

Shaker Set

No doubt that while ordering a cocktail you’ve seen (and heard) the cold shake of your drink before watching it pour in your glass. Shakers provide a quick way to completely blend all of the ingredients of your cocktail together, and it’s a common step in cocktail recipes. For shakers, we prefer a Classic Boston Shaker style, which are locking metal shakers (to prevent leaking) that are traditionally sold in a set. We carry three different finishes at our Tasting Room to suit your personal aesthetic.

Strainer

If your cocktail is shaken, not stirred, you’re going to want a strainer to keep out all the bits of ice, fruit, pulp or other ingredients that you don’t want to drink (or get stuck in your teeth). It’s not a bad idea to do a secondary strain through a mesh strainer, too. We carry the Hawthorne Strainer in three different finishes at our Tasting Room, to match with the finish of each shaker set.

image of stirring vessel and barspoon

Stir Vessel & Stirring Spoon

Though sold separately, these go together like hand-in-glove. A stir vessel is ideal for certain drinks—such as the Old Fashioned, Martini, Manhattan, and Negroni—where you want a smoother, more even texture in your cocktail. The stirring spoon is a long handled spoon, which makes the mixing of liquids easier. Made from stainless steel, stirring spoons won’t affect the flavor of your drink, and it’s easy to keep clean. We carry multiple sizes of both the stir vessel and spoon at our Tasting Room.

Bitters

You’ll find few cocktail recipes that don’t include a drop or two (or more!) of bitters. Bartenders rely on bitters the way that chefs rely on seasonings. They can reduce sweetness, slice thru richness, meld disparate ingredients, and even add an aromatic spiciness. They come in a variety of compelling flavors, giving a boost to whatever you fancy. Our Tasting Room has an impressive wall of bitters from which to choose, but we highly recommend stocking your bar with at least Angostura and Orange bitters.

Large Cube Ice Tray

Sure, you can add any size and shape ice that you want… but if you really want to up your cocktail game, get yourself a large cube ice tray. Large ice allows better control over temperature and dilution, which is (in our humble opinion) crucial for whiskey drinkers and Old Fashioned lovers.

Peeler

This is a simple tool, but a necessary one. The citrus peeler is needed to express zest onto the surface of your cocktail, and yes, it REALLY makes a difference. 

Citrus Press

High quality, raw ingredients, is critical for making good cocktails. Juice your own lemons and limes, and you'll never go back to store bought bottles! This step is totally worth the extra effort. Just strain your fresh pressed citrus through the strainer to remove any pulp or seeds.

Small Paring Knife

So many cocktails feature a garnish. Rather than struggle with something like a steak knife, a small paring knife will easily peel just the citrus garnish your cocktail needs, whether it’s a wedge of lemon or a peel of orange zest. This is a go-to tool for all bartenders.

Jar of Luxardo Cherries

Cherries

Used in cocktails such as the ever popular Manhattan and Old Fashioned, we always keep cherries in stock at our Tasting Room. But not just any cherries. We prefer Luxardo Cherries, which have a much richer flavor (and color) than simple maraschino cherries. Once you try them, they’re bound to be your cherries of choice. 

While there is no shortage of options when it comes to stocking your home bar, this list of must-haves should cover the basic “need to have” items, so you can mix up any cocktail from home with confidence. Our parting advice? Start a cocktail notebook! You can write down your flavor preferences and go-to recipes, and even take notes on your own experiments and results. 

Have fun, and happy mixing! 


Written by Brianne Lucas and Jesse Luberoff, and published by Brianne Lucas on October 11, 2021.

Annual Stowe Foliage Arts Festival

Find us at the Annual Stowe Foliage Arts Festival on October 10th from 10:00 AM-5:00 PM (EDT). You’ll find entertainment, food, drink and even kids activities. Stop by our table at the Topnotch Field in Stowe—rain or shine! We’ll be offering tastings of our spirits, as well as bottles for purchase.

Annual Stowe Foliage Arts Festival

Find us at the Annual Stowe Foliage Arts Festival on October 9th from 10:00 AM-5:00 PM (EDT). You’ll find entertainment, food, drink and even kids activities. Stop by our table at the Topnotch Field in Stowe—rain or shine! We’ll be offering tastings of our spirits, as well as bottles for purchase.

Tasting at Lighthouse Wine & Spirits

Join Mad River Distillers on Friday, October 8th at Lighthouse Wine & Spirits. There will be complimentary tastings from our line of spirits between 4:00-6:00 PM (EDT). Feel free to ask questions! Bottles will be available for purchase.

Annual Stowe Foliage Arts Festival

Find us at the Annual Stowe Foliage Arts Festival on October 8th from 10:00 AM-5:00 PM (EDT). You’ll find entertainment, food, drink and even kids activities. Stop by our table at the Topnotch Field in Stowe—rain or shine! We’ll be offering tastings of our spirits, as well as bottles for purchase.

By in Cocktails, First Run Rum Comments Off on Trickster

Trickster

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Trickster cocktail on a table

Trickster


  • Author: Mad River Distillers
Trickster cocktail on a table

Description

This cocktail will give you all the fall and winter season vibes with our First Run Rum, Orange Curaçao, a honey and ginger syrup, lemon juice, and bitters. Delicious!


Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Mad River First Run Rum
  • 1/2 oz Orange Curaçao
  • 3/4 oz Honey/Ginger syrup
  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker.
  2. Stir and shake up.
  3. Serve over a large ice cube.
  4. Add ginger for garnish.

Featured Spirit

Keywords: First Run Rum, Orange Curaçao, Honey/Ginger syrup, Lemon Juice, Angostura

By in Blog Comments Off on Source Spotlight: Kelvin Cooperage

Source Spotlight: Kelvin Cooperage

Among the most significant decisions a distillery can make is who they partner with for their barrels. There are a lot of facets that impact the flavor of a spirit, such as what grains, malts or sugars are used, how the spirit is distilled, and how long it is aged. The barrel, however, can make or break the flavor of a spirit. It is a crucial aspect in the finished product that a consumer enjoys.

At Mad River Distillers, while we’ve experimented with a variety of different barrels over the years, our go-to source for barrels is Kelvin Cooperage. A craft cooperage based out of Louisville, Kentucky, Kelvin Cooperage has more than 58 years experience producing and repairing barrels. 

Kelvin Cooperage sign and barrels

Photo credit: Andrew Kung Photography

“Since we began aging spirits almost 10 years ago, we have experimented with a variety of different barrels produced by cooperages across the country. Once we got our hands on some Kelvin barrels, it didn't take long for us to realize that their barrels were yielding consistently good whiskey and rum. Couple that with their competitive pricing and friendly staff, and we realized Kelvin Cooperage was a good match for us.”

Alex Hilton, General Manager & Head Distiller at Mad River Distillers

The company’s origin began in 1963, when the family-run and operated business was founded by Ed McLaughlin in Scotland. At the time, they purchased once-used Bourbon barrels from Kentucky to ship around the world. In 1992, they expanded by opening what is now a single, successful location in Louisville, Kentucky. Today, son Paul McLaughlin runs the company, continuing to purchase once-used Bourbon barrels from Kentucky (in addition to building new barrels), which are repaired as needed and loaded on shipping containers to be sent around the world—primarily to Scotland and Ireland. 

The benefit of a once-used barrel is that it is less expensive to purchase, and because it has already been seasoned, used barrels are ready to use. With countless distilleries along the Bourbon Trail, and across the United States, this opened up a large inventory of once-used barrels for the rest of the world. However, in order to make and sell an “American Whiskey” in the United States, it must be aged in new (not used) oak barrels. 

At first producing new wine barrels, the company decided to begin producing new bourbon barrels just as the craft bourbon industry began to boom. Because wine barrels are toasted only, Kelvin Cooperage saw the specific benefits of toasting barrels, and so the business expanded to offer new barrels with both a toasted and a charred wood profile.

Kelvin Cooperage offers new 15, 25 and 53 gallon barrels, which they toast and char over natural oak fires. This is a main point of differentiation for the cooperage. While most cooperages use propane on a timer to char their barrels as they lay on their bilge or belly (side), at Kelvin Cooperage, production scraps are used as fuel to toast and char the barrels as they sit upright. A 15-20 minute toast is first done on all new bourbon barrels before the charring occurs, and only 9 barrels are processed at a time. This traditional method of coopering takes more time as the toasting is done by sight and smell, rather than along a conveyor belt. So while not as many barrels can be produced this way, more time is spent to deliver the requested level of toast and char to each barrel, making these craft barrels more superior.

Man toasts barrels at Kelvin Cooperage
Photo credit: Andrew Kung Photography

“Proper toasting penetrates through the full thickness of the stave, caramelizing and activating the sugars in the wood. The charring process only affects the first few millimeters of the wood and will not burn off the toasting that has penetrated deep into the staves. Char level serves two primary purposes: first is to add color, so the heavier the char the quicker the spirit will pick up color; the second is for the carbon filtration effect, which helps mellow and round out the spirit. A heavier char will add more smoky notes to the whiskey.”

Britney Wimsatt, Director of Craft Sales & Marketing at Kelvin Cooperage

Once a spirit is in a barrel, maturation begins. During warmer weather, the spirit swells and soaks into the wood barrel. As it does, it picks up on both color and flavor from the toast and char. During colder weather, the spirit shrinks back through the wood, picking up on more color and flavors. This swelling and shrinking of the spirit as temperatures fluctuate over time, is a crucial aspect in the finished spirit. 

How much toast and char is in the barrel as the spirit swells and shrinks during maturation, impacts the amount of flavor imparted. When a barrel is purchased, a level of toast and char can be specified—each level imparts different flavors on the finished spirit. According to Britney Wimsatt, the Director of Craft Sales & Marketing at Kelvin Cooperage, most distilleries opt for a medium toast and number 3 char. That level can impart flavors of coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, butterscotch, amaretto, sweet toasted spices and sweet toasted sugars. A heavy toast and a number 1 char can impart other flavors, such as vanilla, caramel, sweet cocoa and a hint of smokiness. This is, in large part, where different Bourbon and Whiskey brands create their unique flavor profiles. 

Toasting & Charring Profiles courtesy of Kelvin Cooperage

Using properly made barrels that retain the spirit, choosing a toast and char that imparts the desired flavor profiles, and storing the barrels in a location that benefits from temperature shifts over time… these are all critical to the finished product. At Mad River Distillers, we’ve found great success in sourcing our craft barrels through Kelvin Cooperage, and in the unique flavors they help impart on our various spirits. As a distillery based in Vermont—a state that enjoys all four seasons—our spirits benefit not only from the quality barrels we use, but from the shifts in temperature that add great flavor to our products and make Mad River Distillers spirits entirely distinctive.


Kelvin Cooperage is part of the White Oak Initiative focused on sustainability of White Oaks for current and future generations. To learn more, visit www.whiteoakinitiative.org.

Written and published by Brianne Lucas on September 27, 2021.

Cigar & Spirits Event in Worthington, CT

Join us at a Cigar & Spirits Event presented by La Foresta Restaurant. Enjoy an all-inclusive dinner along with cigars for $130. There will be live entertainment, and you’ll hear from guest speakers Mimi Buttenheim, President of Mad River Distillers and Ron Bolduc, Jr., Proprietor of Bongo Ron’s Cigar & Lounge. Reserve early as space is limited.

 

Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival

Find us at the Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival on Saturday, September 25th from 10:00 AM-5:00 PM (EDT) at the Mount Snow Resort. Take in the beauty of Vermont’s fall foliage as you discover Vermont makers and producersfrom specialty food products to potters, jewelers to photographers, vintners to distillersand more. We’ll be at this 12th annual event, serving tastings and offering bottles for purchase.

The Vermont Maple 100

Join us in celebrating the Vermont Maple 100. You’ll find special events and activities across the state all month, featuring the many ways to use Vermont maple syrup and specialty maple products. Did you know that our Maple Cask Rum is aged in barrels that once held Wood’s Rum Barrel Aged Maple Syrup? We also partner with Old City Syrup Company to provide Bourbon barrels for their Bourbon Barrel Aged maple syrup. Both syrups are made right here in Vermont. We proudly offer their bottles for sale in our Burlington Tasting Room, and we feature Wood’s syrup in our most popular cocktail—Maple Bourbon Sour. 

Stop by our Tasting Room in Burlington to sip on a delicious craft (and Vermont-made) cocktail. We’ll be featuring the Maple Bourbon Sour all month, in addition to offering tastings of our Maple Cask Rum. Visit our Reservations page at www.madriverdistillers.com to reserve a tasting.

To find out more about the Maple 100: https://vermontvacation.com/maple100

By in Blog Comments Off on Source Spotlight: Wood’s Vermont Syrup Company

Source Spotlight: Wood’s Vermont Syrup Company

When you hear of a maple flavored spirit, you might assume that the maple is a main ingredient added directly to the spirit. It’s an understandable assumption. As a natural sugar, maple syrup is great with most things—pancakes, donuts, marinades, coffee, and at times, it can even be used as a substitute for simple syrup in cocktails. However, our Maple Cask Rum isn’t just rum mixed with straight maple syrup. The story behind this spirit is much richer.

When we decided to make a Maple Cask Rum, we knew we wanted to partner with a local Vermont syrup company. After meeting the Wood family, who has collected sap from their own family maple trees for four generations, we knew we had the right partner. Wood’s produces high quality maple syrup in a variety of flavors, but their barrel aged maple syrups are among the most popular. 

Wood's Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

Wood’s barrel aged maple syrup comes in two varieties—Bourbon Barrel Aged and Rum Barrel Aged. Both are produced in a similar manner, filling newly emptied barrels with hot maple syrup, and then aging them for several months. Mad River Distillers partners with Wood’s Syrup Company to bring together two craft products (Vermont-made syrup and our Vermont-made rum) to create Wood’s Rum Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. We provide them with our freshly emptied rum barrels to fill with syrup and age. As the syrup ages and soaks in the barrel, the essence of the barrel is imparted, resulting in a delicious syrup with only trace amounts of alcohol (just 1%) and the flavors of both vanilla and butterscotch. 

Al Wood pouring maple syrup into a Mad River Distillers barrel

“When I first started aging maple syrup in bourbon barrels, I knew it would be a hit with my customers. I then started getting requests for rum barrel aged syrup. I got on the phone with Mad River and started talking with General Manager and Head Distiller Al Hilton, and he and I made a plan to get some barrels. It was another hit with the customers! The rum does have a butterscotch-vanilla tone which is so good on french toast—my favorite! Mad River continues to be a great partner.”

Al Wood, owner of Wood's Vermont Syrup Company

Mad River's Maple Cask Rum

So how do we make our Maple Cask Rum? First we begin with our First Run Rum, which we then age in barrels that previously contained Wood’s Rum Barrel Aged Maple Syrup. These barrels, recently emptied of the aged maple syrup, impart rich and complex flavors in the rum. After aging our rum in these barrels for some time, the First Run Rum is transformed, adding a nose of tropical fruits and butterscotch flavors, with hints of smoky whiskey. The final product is a rum that is perfect for sipping or incorporating into a number of cocktails (such as our Maple Bourbon Sour).

Maple Bourbon Sour cocktail on a table

"We really value our local partners and collaborators. Our relationship with Al Wood is a unique one in that it is 100% mutually beneficial. We are both reusing barrels that would otherwise be cast away, in a way that adds value to both of our finished products." 

Alex Hilton, General Manager & Head Distiller at Mad River Distillers

An Award-Winning Partnership

Mad River’s partnership with Wood’s Vermont Syrup is a circle. We provide barrels recently emptied of our rum to be filled with maple syrup for aging. In turn, Wood’s provides barrels back to us, recently emptied of their maple syrup. This circle of flavor is an award-winning formula. The Maple Cask Rum has received several awards, including Gold and Silver Medals from Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, a Gold Medal from the Spirits of the Americas competition, and a Bronze Medal from the American Distilling Institute.

Bottle of Mad River Distillers Maple Cask Rum

“Mad River Maple Cask Rum – Rich, tropical and confectionary nose, with a bourbon quality that shows good balance and great promise. American rum returns to greatness with this sipper, rich in flavor and substance.”

Tasting notes, Spirits of the Americas competition

Consider The Source

Our Maple Cask Rum isn’t just a combination of syrup and rum. The story behind our rum, and the syrup, is much more rich. The next time you’re shopping for a flavored spirit or a flavored maple syrup, consider the source. Where did the flavor come from? Is it artificial or natural? How was the flavor imparted? At Mad River Distillers, we’re proud of our partnership with Wood’s Vermont Syrup to not only make our popular Maple Cask Rum, but to make their delicious Rum Barrel Aged Maple Syrup, both with naturally imparted flavors. 


To learn more or to see where you can purchase either product, please visit:
woodssyrup.com
madriverdistillers.com/liquor-type/maple-rum

Written and published by Brianne Lucas on September 14, 2021.