The founders of Stonecutter Spirits moved from Detroit to Middlebury to age their whiskey inside Vermont’s creative community.
Sas Stewart is the epitome of modern artisanal hooch. The cofounder of Stonecutter Spirits in Middlebury, Vermont, would look just as comfortable designing upcycled furniture or fronting a folk-hop band as she does making experimental cocktails.
The Detroit native moved to this shire town in 2012 with her then boyfriend, now business partner, Sivan Cotel. Their peppery, cardamom-forward Single Barrel Gin and Heritage Cask Whiskey—distilled like a bourbon in Kentucky, then aged in cabernet barrels for a finish Stewart describes as “round and plush”—can be found on cocktail menus throughout the state, as well as at Stonecutter’s groovy, Scandinavia-meets-the-Green-Mountains tasting room.
Launched in a former tile factory and named for Middlebury’s history of marble masonry, Stonecutter is “a little promise that I’m making to Vermont,” Stewart says. The investment in heavy equipment and the time it takes to properly age their spirits means she and Cotel intend to stick around and be a hub for their community. A new Vermont-distilled whiskey is currently aging in barrels until 2019; on-premises distillation will begin later this year.
A big part of Stewart’s mission is to partner with and promote fellow local producers, from interior designers to bookbinders. The goal is to make Vermont a destination beyond the bucolic. “We are covered bridges and skiing,” Stewart explains. “But we’re also a lot more than that.”