Our Team

The Mad River Distillers Team

John Egan Founder of Mad River Distillers

John Egan


Maura Connolly

Maura Connolly

Co-Founder & Director of Sales

“We have a great team at Mad River, which makes the job really fun. I meet amazing people every day as I visit bars, restaurants and liquor stores."

A graduate of Northeastern University in Boston—with a Bachelor's in Communications and a Master's in Public Administration—Maura brings her thoughtful energy and communication skills to her position as both Co-Founder and Director of Sales at Mad River Distillers. While managing the sales process across distribution states (both on and off premise), travel is often on the agenda.

When not traveling for work or adventuring with family and friends in her free time, Maura enjoys cooking, yoga and riding her bike. Her personal mantra is to “live every day to the fullest,” and that’s just what she does.

Favorite Cocktail? Boulevardier and a Sazerac with Mad River's Revolution Rye.

Mimi Buttenheim


“There are not many true craft distilled whiskies in New England. Mad River Distillers has a commitment to producing all of our alcohol from scratch and being transparent about the process."

Mimi joined the Mad River Distillers team in 2015. After graduating from Brown University with a Classics degree and earning a Certificate of Baking and Pastry Arts from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in California, Mimi held General Manager positions at a boutique Napa Valley Winery and at a craft vodka distillery. Her career in food, wine and spirts spans 20 years and crosses multiple coasts. As President, Mimi is involved in nearly every aspect of the business as she works closely with manufacturing, wholesale and retail teams to meet production and sales targets and to execute the vision of the founders. 

In her free time, you might find Mimi riding her horse and competing in the disciplines of eventing and dressage. In the winter, rather than ski or board down the mountain, she prefers an après-ski cocktail in the lounge. She’s an avid cook who appreciates good food, and the good company of her husband and dogs (as well as her daily pour over coffee!).

Favorite Cocktail? Boulevardier with Mad River's Revolution Rye (with Cynar instead of Campari)

A picture of Alex Hilton

Alex Hilton

General Manager & Head Distiller

“At its core, Mad River Distillers is a family of like-minded people who enjoy a good time and good company."

Alex was born and raised right in the Mad River Valley. Previously a carpenter, he's a true craftsman who appreciates the value of hands-on experience, whether in building homes and furniture or in crafting small batches of whiskey. He actually performed all the renovations on the old horse barn that is now the distillery! In his position as General Manager & Head Distiller, he oversees the distilling and production operations in both Warren and Waitsfield.

When he's not distilling or handling production, he's working on his sawmill at home making lumber for one of his various projects around the area or even at home. He also enjoys getting outside to hike and bike with his family, listening to live music, and cooking delicious food.

Favorite Cocktail? A Manhattan with Revolution Rye!

John Carroll picture

John Carroll


“I enjoy the process of making spirits."

Originally from Kentucky, John now calls Vermont his home. He previously worked in operational and technical management in the marine industry, but pursued his other interests—spirits—and completed a distilling course at Vermont Technical College before joining Mad River as our Distiller.

When not at work "making the booze," John is most likely hanging out with his family. On a perfect day, he'd explore the ocean on a boat.

Favorite Cocktail? Mad River's PX Rum on the rocks!

Brad Fellure

Assistant Distiller

I love Mad River Distillers commitment to making spirits from grain to glass, and sourcing as local as possible along the way."

As Assistant Distiller, Brad is responsible for operating all distilling equipment during the weekend, along with preparing alcohol for production needs. A graduate of Perdue University, Brad previously worked at Hotel Tango Distillery in Indianapolis, but now calls Waitsfield his home. We're so glad Brad joined our team, bringing not only his great distillery experience, but his curiosity and self-reliance.

When not at our distillery, you might find Brad enjoying a college sports game, attending a concert, or relaxing by the water.

Favorite Cocktail? Rum 44 steel bottom.

photo of Mo Horan.

Mo Horan

On-Premise Sales Manager for Massachusetts and Connecticut

“I’m excited to return to the Mad River Distillers team, which is a brand based on authenticity and a sense of place."

Originally from South Boston, but now hailing from Quincy, Mo got her start in the beverage industry while bartending and as a bar manager, developing a love for craft cocktails and brands. She gained further beverage industry experience working with Fever Tree and Tanteo Tequila, where she honed her expertise in sales strategy, customer relations, and market penetration.

Mo isn’t new to Mad River Distillers, who worked with us previously in 2017. We’re very excited to welcome her back to our leadership team! Funny, witty and adventurous, Mo's idea of a perfect day is spent on the beach relaxing, with a cocktail in hand.

Favorite Cocktail? Vanilla Rum Strawberry Daiquiri!

Cara White

Sales Representative for Massachusetts

“I am thrilled to be part of the Mad River Distiller Team; one that is filled with ambition, experience, integrity and love of working with people to achieve happiness and success!"

Cara joins our team with 16 years' experience in the Massachusetts liquor industry. Having previously owned a Tastings & Event business before working as a Distributor Wine Sales Rep throughout all counties of Western, MA, as well as a small portion of Worcester County, MA, she has established strong relationships across both stores and restaurants. An avid foodie, she truly enjoys marrying spirits with food, whether it is for a tent card resting on a bar top, to a wine and spirits dinner event. On top of this impressive experience, she has a certificate in Interior Design, which she puts to use for both clients and friends.  

Cara is a native New Englander, born in Keene, NH and raised in Hampden, MA. A 3-week stay in Quito, Ecuador launched an endless appreciation of the world and its myriad cultures. This passion for other cultures, and her curiosity, once led her to live and work in Miami Beach, Pennsylvania and Las Vegas. A (now retired) youth soccer coach, Cara enjoys the outdoors—bass fishing/ice fishing, hiking, growing hot pepper plants for her annual hot pepper jelly batch, and swimming—and she enjoys dress shopping, dining with great people, and spending time with her two daughters and two canine kids.

Favorite Cocktail? Maple Cask Rum Hot Toddy (especially while bass / ice fishing!)

Mike Connell

New England Sales Representative

“Mad River Distillers customer centric principles are very important to me. It allows them to stand above the competition in the spirits category. I enjoy exposing new people to our quality spirits."

With a lengthy Sales, Business Development and Sales Management background, Mike joins us as our New England Sales Representative, responsible for on- and off-premise sales, events and business development. With both a bachelor’s and masters degree in Business Administration, Mike’s strong customer-focused approach and business-building skills are invaluable in helping the Mad River Distillers brand stay true to its customer-centric values. Mike strives to add value to every customer, distributor, and consumer he interacts with to continue to elevate the Mad River Distillers brand above the competition.

Currently living in Hopkington, Massachusetts, Mike likes to spend his time outdoors and with his kids. His ideal day is spent with family and friends at the beach listening to great music, enjoying a nice drink and grilled dinner, and watching a beautiful sunset by a fire.

Favorite Cocktail? Manhattan with Revolution Rye

Taylor Sacco

Taylor Sacco

Vermont Sales Manager

“I value good products, made with integrity. Being able to represent a product that I respect and can stand behind is pretty wonderful."

Taylor grew up in Hinesburg, Vermont, where he spent as much time exploring the woods behind his house as possible. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy, and then a Master’s in English at the University of Vermont. Taylor has a breadth of experience in the spirits industry—from his time as a wedding bartender, to his time as a distiller, and now in his role as a traveling Sales Manager for Mad River Distillers. Taylor has worked in sales, marketing and events as well (you'll even find this funny man featured in some of our cocktail recipe videos!).

Taylor likes to spend his down time with his wife and two sons. An ideal day might feature a breakfast dance party, exploring and swimming in the Huntington river, a picnic lunch, dinner downtown, and a horror flick (after the kids go to bed, of course).

Favorite Cocktail? It's factually impossible to beat a classic daiquiri using Maple Cask Rum!

Jay Needleman

Sales Representative / Account Manager

“Mad River Distillers is a lifestyle company. It's like the friend you want at your party that will arrive early and immediately pitch in to help setup without asking. My position allows me to meet a wide variety of people, from all walks of life, and teach them about a great product line."

In his role as Sales Representative / Account Manager, Jay's focus is on meeting and educating. On any given day, he may meet with buyers or conduct a consumer tasting event, where he showcases our spirits and educates on the quality of our distilling process.

Jay learned the ins and outs of business at a young age while helping with his family businesses. He later went on to business school and got into sales, but always followed the Golden Rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." He strives to treat other peoples' money as his own, to ensure that the value of any investment is well understood.

Jay's focus on being and seeing the good wherever possible, is well reflected in his character. He is social, passionate, easygoing, funny and thoughtful—all qualities that not only make for a great Sales Rep, but for a great father and partner to his family.

Favorite Cocktail? A Daiquiri with Vanilla Rum, lime juice and simple syrup.

Jesse Luberoff

Burlington Tasting Room Manager

“I like working for a small company who produces a high quality local product where I can showcase my creativity and focus on education."

Once an Associate Winemaker in Burgundy France, and an industry veteran of the Burlington area, Jesse brings excellent beverage experience to Mad River Distillers. Cicerone certified and a rare Bourbon collector, Jesse loves to share his knowledge with customers, in addition to creating a warm and welcoming environment. As the Tasting Room Manager, Jesse’s role is to develop cocktails and manage the retail space—selling spirits and high-end barware—and to educate both staff and customers alike on our spirits, cocktails and ingredients. 

When not in the Tasting Room, Jesse is often on the mountain—skiing or biking. His perfect day begins without an alarm, includes bacon for breakfast, a remote river hole in Vermont, casual dinner with friends, and a bonfire.

Favorite Cocktail? Old Fashioned with our Bourbon Whiskey.

Brianne Lucas

Marketing & Communications

“A great brand has a great story, great product, and great people—all of which you’ll find in spades at Mad River Distillers."

Strategic marketer and multi-tasking problem solver, Brianne has spent more than 16 years in marketing and account management, working on just about everything—print and digital ads, websites, video and radio production, packaging, direct marketing, social, and more. While Brianne’s client and industry experience is diverse, she has worked with a number of local brands throughout her career. The local, high quality product at Mad River Distillers is what drew her to this role, as well as her love of whiskey. She provides research and web support, develops content and graphics, promotes events… whatever is needed!

When not at her computer typing away, Brianne is likely to be found at one of the many Vermont parks or trails, exploring with her son and husband. She loves to walk, bike, listen to podcasts, and sing (but mostly at home.)

Favorite Cocktail? It's a tie between a Manhattan or Malena with Revolution Rye.

Wendy Stender

Wendy Stender

Administrative Assistant/Bookeeper

“I'm proud to work for Mad River Distillers, with its superior, hand-crafted products made in Vermont, and a company culture that is fun, unique, ethical, and supportive."

Wendy joins us with a diverse background in management, bartending and client relations. With experience in a wide range of business dynamics and infrastructures, she brings a valuable skill set in helping us manage the impressive piles of paperwork, spreadsheets, invoices, and more. She helps us to maintain the integrity of our customer relations, inventory and marketing endeavors.

Family-oriented, adventurous, thoughtful and ambitious, Wendy has always been fascinated by the spirits industry. She loves discovering locally crafted products, and likes that her position allows her to learn about the business and distilling, and in assisting with the marketing that allows others to discover our unique brand.

Favorite Cocktail? An Old Fashioned with Revolution Rye.