A Bouquet of Vermont Spirits: Silo Distillery

By Sarah Zobel | February 16, 2016
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Vermont spirits

Photos by Chris Maggio/Silo Distillery

Craft breweries were on the rise when Peter Jillson was working his way around the world in sales and marketing for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. By 2011, when he decided he wanted to return to Vermont to settle down for good, microbreweries had saturated the region. Craft distilling, meanwhile, was just taking hold. Casting about for a way to reestablish himself in the state, Jillson, an eighth-generation Vermonter, knew he also wanted to help stimulate economic development and create jobs. The result: American Crafted Spirits and its Vermont-centric Silo brand.

Peter Jillson and Ann Marie Delaney
Peter Jillson runs Silo with his partner, Anne Marie Delaney

Though you’ll find vodka, gin and whiskey under the Silo label, these are no mass-marketed liquors. With all of the grains and botanicals that are used in the spirits sourced in Vermont, they’re undeniably local products. And a scan of the Silo offerings—including lavender vodka, elderberry vodka and a reserve gin that lists among its ingredients local apples—makes plain they’re no run-of-the-mill rail mixers either. There’s also moonshine: “It’s not what most people think of, made in the back stills of Tennessee,” says Jillson, but rather a clear whiskey that hasn’t spent time in a barrel. A lemon verbena vodka is the newest offering. Although law requires labels to use the word “flavor,” Silo’s spirits are in fact fully infused.

“There’s a lot of love and care that go into each batch that makes it special,” says Jillson. The business, which began production in 2012 and opened its doors for sales in May 2013, is located in Artisans Park in Windsor, rubbing elbows with such local favorites as Harpoon Brewery, the Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company and the Simon Pearce factory outlet. Jillson runs Silo with his partner, Anne Marie Delaney; he’s in charge of the distillery (and sales in southern Maine, where he attended college), while she handles their event space and tasting room. Customers are welcome to taste before committing to a bottle, of course, but they’re also invited to provide input into new products.

“We can think we have the greatest spirits in the world, but if our customers don’t think so, then it really doesn’t mean much,” says Jillson. Delaney says it takes a while for every product before the team decides its right, and by the time each one is available in the tasting room, it may already have gone through several recipes, with input from outside tasters: “Did they like it? Was it right? People are tasting and giving feedback all the time. It’s the best way to do it, and we continue to do it that way,” Delaney says.

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Sarah Zobel writes about health, education and housing and homelessness.




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