The Land of Gin and Whiskey
Among its many myths and images, Vermont is now considered a place to get excellent alcohol. Today’s visitors may not know that we used to be one of the driest states in the nation, or that prohibition lasted longer in Vermont than most other parts of the country. But that dry spell may have led to a booming alcohol culture.
This Episode’s Featured Object:
Part of a Grappa Still
Marjorie Strong: They used it to make their own grappa. We knew it happened, but we’d never seen it. You know, often they were destroyed when the place was raided. They would destroy the still. Clearly the Bianchi family were not raided.
Images: Celebrating the 1914 cider harvest in McIndoe Falls, Vermont.
Shacksbury Cider co-founder Colin Davis says their “Arlo” cider is likely closest to what Vermonters drank in the past.
Interior of a Barre stone-carving shed. Note that the sides and ends of the shed are closed, which caused major health problems due to stone dust.
The Peduzzi boarding house in Barre.
Adam Krakowski: I see a lot of people that when they visit Vermont, the first thing they want to do is buy a bunch of Vermont beer or find what could be their first four pack of Heady Topper.
Bill Mares: It’s kind of beer hiking, is what it is. People go on these beer tours. They come up and they take the tour around Vermont. They used to hike the Long Trail. Now they just get in their car and they drive to Greensboro and stand in line, and then go home with these stories about the beer.
Among its many myths and images, Vermont is now considered a place to get excellent alcohol. Visitors ski, camp, take photos of leaves…and hunt for our handmade hooch.
Artisanal alcohol has a long tradition in the Green Mountains. Take the liquor Italian immigrants made in Barre.
Marjorie Strong: They would have truckloads of grapes coming in and they did their own local, homegrown, especially grappa. Grappa’s not something you can get easily. You have to kind of do it yourself.
Before Your Time is presented by the Vermont Historical Society, the Vermont Humanities Council, and VTDigger. Our show was produced by Mike Dougherty, Eileen Corcoran, Amanda Gustin, and Ryan Newswanger, with help from Mary Labate Rogstad. Thanks to our guests Colin Davis, Adam Krakowski, Bill Mares, and Marjorie Strong.