How one independent Vermont distillery is sharing the local love one small batch at a time
“Silo’s are everywhere in Vermont,” Erin Bell, head distiller and production manager at SILO Distillery tells us.
“And they are an iconic representation of the long standing agricultural history and contribution that Vermonters make locally, regionally and nationally.”
Now, through her work at SILO Distillery, Erin Bell has etched a place in that storied history for herself.
“Our name is a tip of the hat to the people whose hard work brings us high quality grains, herbs, fruits, vegetables, and botanicals. And allows us to distill and produce spirits that are rooted in a place and a people.”
From their barnhouse headquarters in the city of Windsor, Erin, along with her dog Link and the rest of the team at this Vermont distillery work around the clock to transform all those locally harvested ingredients into their collection of celebrated craft spirits.
“Everything we do and make is sourced as locally as possible,” says Erin. “We also mill our own grain. Which we have learned is relatively unique as well.”
But none of this may have shaken out the way it has if not for what Erin refers to as a “happy accident”.
She explains, “I was living in Boulder, Colorado when the flooding happened there in 2013.”
Erin continues, “Simultaneously, I was offered a job to come back and help launch the brand here. From there I just immersed myself in all things craft and distilling and found a passion and a gift for it.”
Since then, this Vermont distillery has been producing exceptional craft spirits that have won over the local community, and more than a few judges at some pretty prestigious competitions.
This Vermont distillery’s award-winning lineup
SILO Distillery’s signature Vodka is made from 100% Vermont-grown corn.
This smooth, clean craft spirit presents a bright, lemon peel and peppercorn nose. And is flush with the fresh flavors of sweet corn, honey and custard.
It’s the perfect foundation for any vodka-based cocktail. But creamy and effortless enough to enjoy all on its own.
If you’re the type who likes their vodka infused with a little flavor, SILO Distillery has four fantastic varieties to sample.
First up, Cacao Vodka.
SILO Distillery’s Cacao Vodka brought award-winning recognition to the Vermont distillery.
Made with repurposed bean shells sourced from small cacao farmers, this award-winning cacao vodka offers flavors like dark chocolate, roasted cacao bean, cherry and lemon peel before finishing with hints of coffee and caramel.
For something on the sweeter side, you might try SILO Distillery’s Lemon Vodka.
Undeniably bright, this crisp, citrus craft vodka is made from Meyer lemons and peels, giving it a smooth, candied lemon peel taste with just a hint of the fruit’s spongy white pith coming through at the end.
Fans of floral flavors and small batch, botanical craft spirits love the Lavender Vodka from SILO Distillery.
The clean, strong presence of lavender is present throughout. But hints of honey and vanilla make their presence felt too, creating earthy coolness with a refreshing citrus twist going into the finish.
For something that’s truly inspired and out of the box, SILO Distillery proudly presents their Cucumber Vodka.
Hundreds of cucumbers are peeled by hand and then steeped in SILO Distillery’s award-winning cucumber vodka, adding a unique, straight from the garden aroma and taste.
The flavors of cucumber, sweet corn and celery are perfect for a breezy summer day and pair beautifully with citrus and herbs alike.
Lest you think this Vermont distillery’s collection of craft spirits is strictly limited to delicious vodkas like cacao vodka and cucumber vodka, SILO Distillery Gin is here to remind that there’s another clear spirit here to savor.
Combining Vermont-grown corn and apples with Massachusetts juniper berries results in a modern gin that delivers a fresh take on an old classic.
Smooth enough for sipping, citrus and pine come together, forming a balanced taste that leads effortlessly into a soft, sweet, green apple finish.
While Erin does state that SILO Distillery is a, “committed clear spirits maker,” she’s just as proud to announce they do also, “dabble in small batch whiskey”.
Single Malt Whiskey from SILO Distillery is a blend of locally harvested corn and rye that gets aged in bourbon barrels, making it spicy and rich with notes of graham character, almond and just a hint of cereal grain.
Robust whiskey meets sweet tones of maple syrup in SILO’s Maple Whiskey.
When 100% Vermont corn whiskey is infused with Amber-grade Maple syrup from nearby sugar houses, you get SILO Distillery’s Maple Whiskey.
Filled with the warm notes of cherry, brown sugar and stone fruit, this sweet and vivid maple whiskey is pure Vermont. And perfect for enjoying year round.
The Vermont distillery committed to keeping it local
There are a lot of things that make SILO Distillery and the spirits they produce special.
Ask Erin Bell, and she’ll tell you it’s, “Mostly our commitment to local, I think.”
She elaborates, “Vermont is known for its natural bounty and farming. We utilize this local network of farmers, growers and producers to produce the majority of our spirits.”
SILO Distillery sits on tree-lined land, surrounded by a group of local artisans.
“100% of the grain we use to distill our products is from Vermont farms, and we support 60+ acres of farmland in our raw material purchases every year.”
According to Erin, keeping things local is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
“The local products lend themselves not only to our community minded business model, but our flavor profiles as well.”
For Erin, that’s the real difference that independent distilleries like SILO make in their communities and in general.
“We connect people to products and producers on a local level. We offer innovation and opportunity that may be either impossible or undesirable in mass produced brands. We create jobs inside and outside of our businesses.”
Perhaps most importantly, Erin states, “We help redefine expectation.”
A Vermont distillery inside a community of artisans
Erin and SILO Distillery aren’t the only ones looking to add their name to the ledger of Vermont’s agricultural history.
In fact, Erin Bell and SILO Distillery are surrounded by similarly-minded craftsmen and women.
She describes the area around Windsor, “We are physically located in an artisanal park with many other makers: cheesemakers, jam and preserve makers, chefs, glass blowers and a brewery.”
She goes on, “Our physical neighborhood has lent itself to the development and expansion of our identity and exposed us to consumers who may not have found us otherwise.”
“Our participation in the Vermont community as a whole is also developmental. Not only are we sourcing from Vermont farms and businesses, but we are creating a space for locals to gather for business or pleasure. And the community has gladly gathered around us in turn. Vermonters have always been a ‘local first’ kind of people.”
That sense of oneness as a community is both essential and rewarding.
When asked what the most fulfilling part of working at SILO Distillery was, Erin Bell didn’t hesitate with her reply.
“Connecting with people.”
Connecting with people is easy when you have craft spirits from SILO Distillery.
“Between the producers we buy from to our customers and industry partners, we have a great network of folks who support us, who are interested in what we are doing, who like our point of view and support our commitment to local.”
Seven years in and SILO Distillery is still going strong. Thriving inside of a supportive community and expanding beyond it.
“We work hard, we’re adaptable, and we love our community,” Erin says. “I don’t think that sets us apart, per say, but it’s what is important to us above all else.”
Erin Bell sums it all up with a few final, inspiring thoughts.
“What we do does not exist without our local food and beverage community. It doesn’t exist without the ag folks, or the restaurateurs, or the mechanics, or the trendsetters.”
“Building a business that is community minded can generate the power to change the world for the better. When we support our neighbors and they support us, no one can lose, and longevity becomes more than an idea, or a glimmer on the horizon.”
“And when you build that community up from day one, it’s very easy for it to sustain and to flourish. You won’t get rich quick, but you’ll fill up your soul.”