Bars aren’t hurting for a variety of vodkas — the stuff runs the gamut from cheap to costly and comes flavored with everything from huckleberries to black pepper to bacon (really). But around here, new organic lemon and orange versions made by Green Mountain Distillers in Stowe are knocking competitors off the shelves — or so says company co-owner Tim Danahy. “The reception has been incredible. People are dumping their Absolut Citron and Stoli Ohranj,” he boasts.
What prompted the company to add flavorings to its quadruple-distilled Sunshine Vodka? “When we were tasting [flavored] vodkas, we thought a lot of them had an artificial taste,” Danahy recalls. “It took us a year to get the formula down. It definitely tastes like real lemons and oranges.”
Numerous Stowe restaurants, such as Piecasso and the eateries at Trapp Family Lodge and Stowe Mountain Lodge, have picked up the new fruity vodkas. Soon Danahy expects to see ’em in the Queen City. “It’s hard in Burlington because there’s so much absentee ownership,” he says, and explains that a restaurant’s local staffers may not be the ones choosing its booze. So far, he and business partner Harold Faircloth III have had good luck at the Vermont Pub & Brewery, Leunig’s and Halvorson’s.
To showcase its three vodkas, GMD has changed its packaging: The spiffy new bottles combine etching with paper labels printed in soy ink on recycled paper. Similarly, the company’s website is getting a long-overdue overhaul. One current problem? The page labeled “Whiskey” is blank.
But perhaps that’s by design. “We try to forget it’s there,” says Danahy of GMD’s whiskeys, which are barrel aging in a back room. “Our first batches are 4 years old now … We just sampled them a month and a half ago and they’re phenomenal. The original ones we did are Irish single malts.” But the plan is to wait three more years before putting the hooch on the market. “Every time we’re strapped for cash, we walk back and look at them,” Danahy says, laughing.
For now, fans can look forward to a cranberry vodka that GMD hopes to release around the holidays, and to a bracing new gin. When will it be available? Danahy’s not sure: “We’re working on a recipe, but we don’t do anything until we’re totally satisfied,” he says.