In 2010, I wrote this piece for Maine Food & Lifestyle. But they delayed publication so long that after a year or two (yes, you read that right), I gave up on it going to print or being paid for it, apologized to my sources and moved on. It was one of two writing casualties for me as that publication slowly stopped publishing, but as I mentioned before, it happens to all freelancers.
The industry in Maine has exploded since 2010. I wanted the work of the many distillers who took time to speak with me and share their recipes for this piece to finally see some light. Thankfully all three of the distilleries I highlighted are thriving and I included links so you can see what they are focused on today.
The Hearts, Heads and Tails of Maine Spirits (original intended date of publication, Fall 2010)
Taste of Maine
If you're a gin drinker, you'll leave happy with a bottle of Back River gin. And if you're not a gin drinker, you will be after tasting it. Constance describes it as Maine in a glass, evoking the spirit of her hometown of Boothbay: the citrusy, ginger tang of the sea, juniper and pine aromas mellow into a warm (local) blueberry finish. Spirits distribution is limited to in-state and production levels are small. If you taste something and you like it, unfortunately can’t enjoy a full glass on site, so Connie encourages customers to buy new favorites before they become only a taste-memory.
Old hand, new tastes
Success found Bartlett again when only a few years later, his Spirits of Maine products were featured in the regarded text "The Art Of Distilling Whiskey And Other Spirits" by Bill Owens and Alan Dikty. Bartlett’s apple brandy received accolades from International Review of Spirits and his ghostly pear eaux de vie -- in its elegant bottle -- is a lush sipper that garnered gold 92 points from the Beverage Testing Institute, noting its “pear and cream” aromas. Bartlett has limited production of both to less than 500 cases total, compared with the 7,000 cases of fruit wine he produces each year, and distribution outside of the estate is limited. But the shiny, copper still remains busy: light and dark rums are now aging in oak barrels, peach and raspberry eau-de- vies will be available this coming summer and he’s “playing” with some other liqueurs too. The spirits world is excitedly waiting to see what comes next.
Gathering a following
“It’s been a long journey and a lot of learning to get to this point, but Jess and I are incredibly proud of the final product,” Scott said. Twenty 2 won recognition from the World Spirits Competition during its first year of production and has also attracted more than 3,500 fans on Facebook – where every Friday afternoon a unique drink recipe is unveiled. Among the favorites, the Dude's Caucasian, was inspired by Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridge's character in “The Big Lebowski” and features Allen’s Coffee Brandy and Houlton Farm’s Dairy Heavy Cream to complete the local flavor triumvirate. Good Friday, or any day, after 3 p.m., of course.
The Dude’s Caucasian, made with Twenty 2 vodka
The Spiced Apple Fritter Martini, made with Twenty 2 vodka
The Galbiatis served more than 500 samples of this cocktail at October’s Harvest on the Harbor Grand
Jeff Smith Sidecar, made with Spirits of Maine brandy