About Barr Hill Vodka
In the early 18th century, the rolling hills of Vermont's landscape were dotted with numerous breweries and micro-distilleries. In 1852, however, yielding to the state's temperance movement, Vermont banned alcohol and shuttered the state's burgeoning craft spirits industry. Though alcohol was legalized again in 1933, Vermont's Prohibition movement cast a long shadow, and distilleries across the state remained dormant for decades.
Today, on the banks of the Lamoille River in Hardwick, Vermont (population: 3,174), Caledonia Spirits remains rooted in the traditions of sustainability and Vermont's agriculture.
Todd Hardie, Caledonia Spirits founder, spent over four decades as a beekeeper before deciding to incorporate his raw, organic Vermont honey into craft spirits. His first honey house, which required a $1,000 down payment and had a mortgage of $133 per month, was home to 180 colonies. Coincidentally, the land in northern Vermont where he kept his first bee houses straddles the Québec border, and had been the site of a Prohibition-era speakeasy named Bucket of Blood.
Barr Hill Vodka is crafted from raw, organic Vermont honey sourced from one of Hardie's now 1,900 colonies. "Honey is incredibly expensive to harvest," Hardie notes, and harder still to ferment. "Even with a Bachelor's of Science in agriculture, I didn't know that the way you're taking care of your bees and your people goes into every product — every bottle,"he says. "With a strict science background, they don't teach you that, but it's true. The consumer will know the difference between a good and a mediocre product."
After cold fermenting the honey for approximately three weeks, Hardie, together with Ryan Christiansen, Caledonia Spirits' master distiller, distills the wash through a 25-gallon custom-designed fractionating column still. After distillation, each bottle of Barr Hill Vodka is brought to proof and sealed with beeswax (what else did you expect?) cut from a huge hunk of luminous lemon-yellow wax from Singing Cedar Apiaries.
Barr Hill Vodka has soft notes of honey and vanilla, with a smooth, clean finish and a unique, crisp texture. "The best fertilizer is always the footprint of a farmer," says Hardie. This vodka has his footprint all over it.
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Historians are not clear on the exact origin of vodka since different sources link its beginning to both Russia and Poland. But one thing is clear: this somewhat simple spirit, first used as a medicinal concoction, has become one of the most versatile drinks in the world.
It can be distilled from any type of grains, potatoes, or even grapes worldwide. Due to its simplicity, this unaged spirit's main flavor factor is the quality of water and the ingredients used in the distillation process.
Primarily used in cocktails, vodka can also stand its ground when enjoyed neat.
Check out our impressive selection of vodkas, find your new favorite in The best-reviewed vodkas, and explore our treasury of best vodka bottles under $50.