Couple produces first barrel-aged maple spirits in Vermont - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Couple produces first barrel-aged maple spirits in Vermont

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David and Lisa Howe are checking some of their 12,000 maple taps on their farm in East Fairfield. 

The Howe family has lived all over the world. They both were business executives, he was CFO for a major investment firm, but they decided to buy 550 acres in Vermont 20 years ago and work down on the farm. Like many farmers, they make syrup, but then the couple takes it one step further, producing barrel-aged maple spirits, the first such products produced in Vermont.

The first spirit they produced is called Rail Dog.

"Rail Dog is the first of its kind that is 100 percent maple sugar. It's not the only one, others are coming into the market now which is a sign that maple makes a wonderful spirit, so when you taste Rail Dog you are tasting something that reminds you of cognac that also has a hint of a Scotch whisky," said David Howe from Elm Brook Farm and Distillery. 

Rail Dog is aged in barrels for three-and-a-half to five years before bottling.

It took David and Lisa six years of research and development to perfect their products, even making all their distilling equipment on the farm, mostly from used dairy equipment. Their three products are named after their beloved dogs, who all are named after authors.

Literary Dog is a vodka that is also 100 percent maple, distilled more than 20 times and aged nine months before it's bottled. David describes it as subtle with a hint of toffee sweetness.

Their newest product is called Dirty Dog, and it contains no alcohol.

"It's maple syrup plain and simple that comes in an oak barrel. It's aged in our oak barrel for six months to a year, then we bottle it and, most of Lisa's customers, my wife Lisa's customers, tell me it's a sublime experience," said David. 

This two-person distillery puts out small batches of product that are sold directly to the public at some farmers markets. Most batches sell out quickly.

"Direct sales face to face, me and David, we tell the story we are still too small really to have a staff who is out there. We really want to tell people exactly how it is made, where it is made that it is made authentically from pure maple syrup on our farm," said Lisa. 

Lisa and David say there are no plans to go big. They would rather see more Vermont farms make their own spirits from crops they produce, making the Green Mountain State resemble the cognac region of France.

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