The First Certified Climate Neutral Distillery in the USA
Appalachian Gap Distillery in Middlebury is the first distillery in the nation to achieve climate neutrality by offsetting its entire carbon footprint, according to the nonprofit organization, Climate Neutral.
What started as a passion for making things by hand, including guitars, furniture, and beer, has become a passion for making great sprits. The founders, Lars Hubbard and Chuck Burkins, formed their friendship over 20 years ago over pints of home-brewed beer. Their distillery, established in 2010, is an expression of their own -- and their team's -- beliefs in hard work, absolute honesty, social and environmental responsibility, and the magic of really, really tasty spirits.
They started with a blank slate: a building bought out of foreclosure in need of complete renovation, no equipment, and no experience in large-scale spirits production. Over the course of the next three years, they built out the space, raising the roof to make room for the distillation column of their first still, super-insulating the walls and roof, cutting trenches for water and waste lines, leveling the floors, installing a heating plant and chilling plant, and finally installing their still and the rest of their equipment.
They thought through the entire process, from grain to bottle, with an emphasis on sustainability. All electricity for the building is generated by the solar array on the south side of the property; all solid and liquid stillage are given to local farms for livestock feed; natural gas derived from methane capture at local farms will soon power their steam plant.
Involved in every aspect of the design and construction of the original space, they completed a large expansion over the summer of 2017, installing a vodka still, erecting a large rickhouse, warehouse space, dedicated bottling area, and a beautiful new tasting room.
The hands-on approach continues with their award-winning spirits. Every person who works at the distillery -- the founders, their employees (and future owners), their tasting room and event staff -- works on every part of the process, from mashing to distilling to bottling to shipping. They know exactly what went into every bottle of spirits: the work, the care, the pride, the passion.
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