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Windsor distillery is a finalist for Good Food awards

  • Head distiller Erin Bell carries some equipment to be cleaned past the still at Silo Distillery in Windsor, Vt., Saturday, Jan. 7, 2020. Silo made the list of finalists in the Good Food Foundation's annual food awards with their flagship vodka in the overall spirits category and semi-dry cider in the cider category. "For a vodka to place among whiskies based on flavor alone is a big deal," said Bell of the recognition. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Head distiller Erin Bell seals corks into place on bottles of maple bourbon at Silo Distillery in Windsor, Vt., Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. The distiller's flagship vodka and semi-dry cider are finalists in the Good Food Awards which will announce the winners on Jan. 17. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/7/2020 5:01:29 PM
Modified: 1/7/2020 10:14:32 PM

Like a cocktail cupped in cold hands, the Silo Distillery in Windsor, all blond wood, soft light and gleaming glass, held a promising glow on a recent winter’s evening with the work week winding down. Inside, visitors sipped hard cider, maple whiskey and lavender-infused vodka, browsed rows of bitters and bourbon-soaked olives and peered through a glass wall to massive tanks holding local grains on their way to becoming spirits.

Flowing into some of the visitors’ glasses were drinks that, in turn, may be on their way to the spotlight. Silo Distillery is a finalist in two categories of the Good Food Foundation’s annual Good Food Awards. Its Semi-Dry Cider is a contender in the cider category, and its vodka is in the running for an award in the spirits category.

The distillery, which opened in 2013 in Artisans Park, has made a name for itself with inventive spirits such as its cucumber-infused vodka. But its classic vodka was what clinched a spot among the five regional finalists.

“For a plain vodka to win an award like that is actually great. That means it stood out,” said co-owner Anne Marie Delaney, who will attend an awards ceremony in San Francisco on Jan. 17.

Likewise, Silo’s Semi-Dry Cider is a no-frills refreshment. “It’s very simple. Very basic,” said Erin Bell, head spirits distiller and production manager for Silo.

The Good Food Awards celebrate two meanings of the word “good.” Products are first selected in a blind taste test, then the companies have to pass a vetting process to ensure they use environmentally sound sourcing and agricultural practices.

Silo, which entered the contest for the first time this year, was founded on the local foods ethos, Delaney said. “What I tried to do from the beginning was to find out what was available in Vermont and see if we could use it,” she said.

Silo vodkas are made with corn from Grembowicz Farm in North Clarendon, Vt.. Apples for the cider, which Silo introduced three years ago, come from Moore’s Orchard in Pomfret. Because the cider makers use only one farm’s harvest, in contrast with many cider makers who source from multiple orchards, it sells out before the next harvest rolls around.

“That’s the nature of the beast,” Delaney said.

Bell reaches out to local farmers as much as possible for specialty ingredients as well. The team has also developed conservation strategies, such as reusing the wastewater from the distillery and donating the spent grain to farmers for livestock feed.

Silo products are currently sold in nine states, primarily in New England. Delaney and Bell hope a Good Food Award will help the company broaden its market.

Meanwhile, they’re expanding the product line as well. Next month, they’ll introduce an amaro, an Italian digestif made from 14 different botanicals, grown mostly in Vermont.

The new product reflects a growing appetite for craft cocktails in the American market, Delaney said. “In Italy, most of the little towns have their own amaros,” she said. “American distilleries are taking a stab at doing what the Europeans have been doing.”

Silo is one of 12 Vermont companies vying for awards. Vermont Amber Candy Co. in White River Junction is also in the running for its Pumpkin Seed Chipotle Toffee.

Sarah Earle can be reached at searle@vnews.com or 603-727-3268.

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