“I grew up in a log cabin with no electricity or indoor plumbing,” he recalls. So from a young age he took to hobbies like furniture making and luthiery, which is the repair and construction of stringed instruments like the violins and guitar.
Prior to the thought of making Vermont whiskey at a sustainable distillery, it was the beer brewing bug that bit Lars first.
He took pride in serving pints of homemade lager to friends and strangers alike.
On a lark, and as a way to take a break from their busy professional schedules, Lars and his business partner Chuck Burkins decided to take a weekend distilling class in Geneva, New York.
While they may have written it off as a fleeting obsession or passing fancy at first, it became clear to them both that distilling Vermont whiskey by hand wasn’t some itch they could just easily scratch and make go away.
“I wanted to do something other than stare at a computer screen,” Lars says. “To have a chance to make something special that people could enjoy.”
Even though he’d keep the day job with his agricultural consulting business, and Chuck would continue to work as a biochemist, the two received their license to operate and opened the doors to Middlebury, Vermont’s Appalachian Gap Distillery.
A local, sustainable distillery making Vermont whiskey by hand
From day one, it’s been important to Lars that they limit their ecological footprint as much as possible.
For example, all of the electricity used in their building is provided by a special solar array.
The solar array at Appalachian Gap Distillery powers their facility in a sustainable way.
100% of their liquid stillage and waste grains are donated to local farmers to be used as animal feed.
All cleaning and process water is captured, tested and pH checked to ensure no pollutants, like biochemical oxygen demand, are released in the waste stream.
Windows are double-paned and treated with a low-e coating; the walls and roof of all heated areas of the sustainable distillery are super insulated.
Making sure his facility is ecologically viable means as much to Lars as being sure the craft spirits Appalachian Gap Distillery produces are among the very best the state of Vermont has to offer.
Genuine Vermont whiskey, and more!
Aqua Vodka from Appalachian Gap Distillery is quite the novel craft spirit. It’s made using Aqua ViTea Kombucha, a premium, sustainably sourced organic tea that’s also produced locally in Middlebury.
Appalachian Gap Distillery extracts the naturally occurring cane spirits from the organic Kombucha and works their magic on it to create a one-of-a-kind vodka that is packed full of flavor.
Appalachian Gap Distillery’s range of craft spirits offers something exceptional for every palate.
Like an herb garden in full bloom, Mythic Gin hits with a botanical aroma of pine, cinnamon and citrus before revealing smooth floral flavors that hold a lingering sweetness.
Ingredients such as rosehips and Szechuan peppercorn, that are rarely used in gin, provide this particular craft spirit with distinct evergreen notes and hints of spiced fruit alongside the traditional juniper berry.
If rich, smoky flavors are your thing, then Appalachian Gap Distillery’s Papilio Agave-Maple Spirit is the perfect bottle for you.
The light, sweet, roasted flavor of Vermont maple syrup meets the kippered goodness of real, imported blue agave to deliver a craft spirit that’s somewhat reminiscent of tequila, but all together unique.
Vermont whiskey that’s aged in the barrel can take on all kinds of interesting and complex flavors.
Let that same Vermont whiskey age in three different kinds of barrels, and what you’re left with is a rich craft spirit that has flavors in common with both bourbon and Irish whiskey, but possesses a character all its own.
Ridgeline Vermont Whiskey spends time resting in ex-bourbon barrels, new American oak barrels and port wine barrels, resulting in a complicated and luxurious whiskey that tastes of dried fruit, vanilla, leather and tobacco with a sweet, spicy, almost buttery finish.