Tucked just off the Guide Meridian, Bellewood Acres Farm is a frequent stop among locals for apples, corn and pumpkins in the fall but in the last year, they have expanded into spirits. Their tasting room, a black wood affair with old fashioned barrels and metal furnishings, looks in on their distillery, a mass of polished bronze. You feel part voyeur, as if peering in on an elaborate moonshine operation tucked away in fields, and part honoured guest. The tasting room sports generous pours and comfortable leather seats.
The liquor lives up to the trappings. Bellewood Distillery sells five liquors, three vodkas, an apple brandy and a gin. Their standard vodka is made with a mix of apples harvested right onsite and provides a fresh, dry kick ($23 for 375ml). Their Honeycrisp Vodka ($25 for 375ml) provides a natural sweet warmth, while their Raspberry Vodka retains the tartness of the fruit and begs to be added to a glass of lemonade.
Their apple brandy ($29.99 for 375ml), titled Eau de Vie, with its warm bouquet and light flavour, has already picked up a bronze award in 2013 from the American Distilling Institute. You can taste the difference fresh apples make as the flavour feels like a natural outcome of the drink, warming the belly without overpowering the senses.
However, the real star of the show is their gin. Infused with seven different botanicals (neatly displayed in mason jars for the taster to shake and smell), the gin ($25 for 375ml) provides a wonderful blend of citrus, cinnamon and cardamom flavours along with the traditional juniper berries. The aftertaste, rather than the harder bite of some gins, is a pleasant herbal finish. If you only taste one liquor at Bellewood Distilling, sample their gin: it will persuade even the most hardened gin critics.
In addition to their brands of spirits, Bellewood Distilling sells bitters, ginger syrups and cocktail shakers, making their tasting bar an essential stop on any trip through the area.
*Prices in US dollars
Visit www.bellewoodfarms.com for more information.