Smugglers Notch Vermont is world renown for amazing skiiing, and a plethora of outdoor activities...and now a world class distillery. ForWhiskeyLovers recently sat down with distillery president/co-owner Jeremy Elliott to see what what he and his father Ron are cooking in the woods of Vermont.
Father and son team Ron & Jewremy Elliott began their distillery journey in 2006 right in Jeffersonville, Vermont. For any of you Jeffersonville or even Vermont natives, you can find this distillery at the foot of the famed Smugglers’ Notch (This is a site where bootleggers used to run through). This smuggling route was first used during the 1800s to move goods during the trade embargo and then again in the 1920s to move liquor during prohibition. Due to the current day and age, they do not need to smuggle anything anymore.
Smugglers' Notch Distillery provides a very unique taste as they use different ingredients to make their spirits one of a kind. Smugglers’ Notch uses the finest ingredients blended with pristine Vermont spring water. Be sure to get your hands on one of their finest bottles as you can get them right here at ForWhiskeyLovers.
From distillery questions to specific product questions, we have it all! Be sure to check out our one-on-one interview with the head/co-owner of Smugglers’ Notch Distillery, Jeremy Elliott!
Smuggler's Notch Distillery History:
Doug Stone: What is your background…what were you doing before you opened your Smugglers Notch?
Jeremy Elliott: Before opening the distillery I was a Research and Development Chemist for a large Pharmaceutical company. It was a great job. In 2003, the company announced it was shutting down the facility to move overseas to take advantage of tax benefits. At that moment I realized it was time to make a change.
DS: When did you open your distillery, and what made you want to open it / become a distiller?
JE: My father and I started the distillery in 2006 and sold our first product in 2010. After I was told I was going to lose my job as a chemist I assessed my skills, talked to my father who had a business background, and together we decided to pursue the alchemy of a father/son dream. When we started there was ~170 distilleries in the US, now there are over 2000.
DS: Why choose to make a whiskey at all and why a Bourbon?
JE:We launched our bourbon in 2013 and quickly sold out. We didn’t realize the appetite for good small batch carefully crafted bourbon.
What is total annual output of Smugglers Notch per year?
We are bottling everyday to keep up with demand. Our products stand on their own and
once a customer tries them they buy more.
DS: How well has the Whiskey been received and any plans to expand your range of whiskeys?
JE: Very well. We have received numerous accolades for our Whiskeys including our Wheat Whiskey which was called one of the top 100 spirits of 2017 by the Wine Enthusiast. The best feedback has been from our customers though. They appreciate the time we take to get our blends absolutely perfect every time. It is an art that we have perfected.
DS: Tell me about the actual still, design and capacity etc
JE: We use a still designed by Jesse from Trident Stills in Maine. It is a hybrid pot/column still with a dephlegmator. It works great, the service Jesse provides is top notch, and it is made in the USA.
So Jeremy, there's whisky in them Vermont Hills, eh?
DS: Tell me about your different bourbons
JE: We make a Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The bourbon is a blend of 2 different mash bills, both high in Rye. We age them in 5 different barrel sizes which we source from 2 different cooperages. We blend the bourbon for corn silage on the nose, a robust mid palate, no linger on the back end and no cherry.
We also make a Maple Bourbon. This is a great product as after we empty a 53 gallon bourbon barrel, we fill it with organic maple syrup for 4 – 6 months, then we put the bourbon back in for an additional 6 – 18 months. Our Maple Bourbon has a slight maple nose, full body, and finishes slightly sweet. It is definitely not your “sweetened” bourbon as it grabs all residual sugars from the barrel.
DS: How long do you age them for?
JE: We are sitting on Bourbon up to 6 years old, however the barrels tell us when they are done.
DS: What makes it special/different from other bourbons?
JE: It is all in the blending. We profile each barrel and use portions to make the final product. Every batch is chosen and approved by myself. I laugh sometimes as I went to college for chemistry, but blending is all palate and I believe you are born with that.
DS: Details of mashbill?
JE: We use a 36% and a 21%. Corn:Rye:Barley Malt
DS: You give several cocktail recipes on your website for the bourbons – do you feel that it’s an ideal style of Bourbon for cocktails?
JE: Our bourbon pairs well with many cocktails.
Is there more to Jeremy's life in Vermont, than Whiskey?
DS: What is your favorite word?
JE: 110% percent
DS: What is your least favorite word?
DS: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
JE: When people shake my hand and say thank you for creating a wonderful product.
DS: What turns you off?
JE: Pretentious people
DS: What is your favorite curse word?
JE: Oh Shit.
DS: What sound or noise do you love?
JE: High Horsepower Motors
DS: What sound or noise do you hate?
DS: What profession other than distilling would you like to attempt?
JE: Fly Fishing Guide
DS: What profession would you not like to do?
DS: When you aren’t drinking your own spirits, whose are you drinking?
JE: American Lagers
DS: What inspires you when you are making a whiskey or other spirit? Are you influenced by other whiskey makers and, if so, by whom?
JE: I am inspired by the feeling a spirit leaves you with. It curates a legacy.
DS: Are you inspired by other artists like chefs or musicians? If yes, who are they and why/ how does their work find its way into your whiskey?
JE: I appreciate artists, however I don’t model my spirits after them. Our spirits come from a reflection within.
DS: How will you measure your success?
JE: When my son says, “Dad I want to make whiskey like you.” Then I’ve made it.
DS: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
JE: Did you take the wrong turn?