From the classroom to the winery, and from a business plan competition victory to a distiller of maple-flavored liqueurs, it’s been quite a journey for one Vermont entrepreneur.
“I was a teacher in Marlboro, NH, in the early ‘80s,” says Ed Metcalfe. “When I got an offer from a friend to run a liquor store in Rhode Island for about twice what I was making as a teacher.”
Following his tenure at the liquor store, he later became a sales rep for Rhode Island’s first winery, a position that planted the seed to become a vintner himself. He did just that in 1985 – creating and owning North River Winery, Vermont’s very first winery. The apple wine with maple syrup and the gold-medal-winning raspberry apple wine were the best sellers.
Fast-forward to 2008 when Ed Metcalfe won first place in the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation’s annual business plan competition. He received $10,000 to jump-start his Vermont Distillers in Marlboro, Vermont on Route 9 next to the Hogback Mountain Scenic Overlook. (If you stop at the Hogback Mountain Gift Shop can ask for a small taste of the maple liqueur.) Today, working side-by-side with his sons, Gus and Dominic, Ed Metcalf’s Vermont Distillers’ produces an exceptional line of maple-flavored liqueurs.
Vermont Maple Cream Liqueur: maple makes the difference
The inspiration for Vermont Distillers’ signature (and very popular) liqueurs can be traced back to Ed Metcalf’s winery days. Originally, Vermont Maple Cream Liqueur was initially envisioned as a maple liqueur – without the cream. Ultimately, fresh cream became an integral part of the product giving it a smooth finish similar to that of an Irish cream liqueur. What really sets it apart, is the 100% pure maple syrup.
Getting the right maple flavor was a critical step in this product formulation. As with any maple beverage, it’s essential to test different grades within the distilling process to find the right balance. Following some experimentation (and after working closely with Bascom), it was determined that Vermont Grade B was the perfect match. The darker syrup gives Metcalfe’s Vermont Maple Cream Liqueur the unmistakably robust, smooth maple flavor that people thirst for.
This unique liqueur is best enjoyed chilled and served straight up or on the rocks. It’s also the perfect addition in mudslides, coffee, hot cocoa or served over ice cream. Ed says that first-time customers typically become instant fans and Metcalfe’s Vermont Maple Cream Liqueur has received high marks and “Publisher’s Picks” praise from leading industry publications.
“From its subtle maple aroma to its billowy soft entry, this liqueur tippy-toes on the tongue,” wrote the Spirit Journal, along with awarding 91 points to the Maple Cream Liqueur. “It soon lets go, dousing the mouth as if it were a pancake: a milky wash of maple syrup and cream with a hint of perky 34-proof spirit.”
One big reason Metcalfe’s Vermont Maple Cream Liqueur stands out from other similar products is real maple syrup. Chemically altered “maple flavors” taste artificial. Simply put, only real maple syrup can deliver the real maple flavor. The same commitment to “real food” quality includes the use of fresh raspberries in Metcalfe’s Raspberry Liqueur.
Vermont Distillers’ products are sold in most liquor stores in Vermont, with additional availability in Alabama, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. For more information, visit their website or check out their Facebook page for the latest news, offerings, and recipes.
Maple making a big splash in beverage industry
Prized for its flavor and nutritional benefits, maple syrup has become an increasingly more popular ingredient in a variety of food and beverage categories including:
Non-alcoholic beverages: Natural juices are just one example of healthy beverages that rely on pure maple syrup as a delicious and natural sweetener.
Beer: Breweries coast-to-coast are incorporating pure maple syrup into their signature ales. The darker maple grades complement the robust, complex nature of these brews.
Liqueurs and alcohol spirits: Maple is fast becoming a key ingredient in flavored bourbons, whiskies, moonshine, and other alcohol products.
Food: Cereals, bars, sauces, nut butters, bacon, glazes, spice mixes all taste better with maple. Anything that contains cane sugar can be replaced with maple sugar or maple syrup.
Whether the need is for beverages or foods, getting the perfect maple flavor is a unique challenge; a challenge that Bascom enjoys solving. For example, whiskey or other hard liquor brands may need a clear liquid. Does this automatically rule out a dark amber (or medium amber) grade over a lighter one? Not necessarily. It all depends on the process. No matter what beverage is being produced, different grades will react differently with different manufacturing and distilling processes. This is why it’s so important to experiment with different grades within specific processes to find the perfect flavor combination and eliminate any unwanted variables before it goes to market.
“The only complaint I’ve gotten is that people can’t keep it in their refrigerator,” explains Ed Metcalf. “It goes too fast.”
While Metcalfe’s Vermont Maple Cream Liqueur may sound like an outlier, the truth is that maple syrup’s use in spirits is positioned for some serious growth in the alcohol beverage industry.
According to a New York Times article “If Jack Daniel Were a Beekeeper” (“Flavored Whiskeys Expand the Market”, June 24, 2013), “Today, flavored whiskeys are the fastest-growing segment in the bourbon industry. According to Nielsen research provided by Beam, in 2012 flavored whiskey accounted for nearly 75 percent of growth among all whiskeys, and 42 percent of growth in bourbon.”
A perfect match
Vermont Distillers knew that that they could count on Bascom to produce an exceptional product. We invite you to call us at 888-266-6271 or contact us online if you’d like to learn more about our maple product R&D services and wholesale pricing.
In the mean time, let’s lift a glass of cheer to entrepreneur Ed Metcalf who knows that money doesn’t talk nowadays… it goes without saying.