Artisanal rum and whiskey whisked one Boston power couple away to...Vermont?
Maura Connolly is a cool-cat tri-athlete, and her husband, Jon Egan, a hotshot lawyer. Their children, Olympic-caliber athletes, just recently trotted off to college. So, right when this Back Bay power couple could kick back and smell the roses, Connolly and Egan, ever the overachievers, started a business. A distillery, to be exact, one they bought and established up near their second beloved home, in Vermont’s Mad River Valley.
“We had always thought about planting a vineyard,” says Egan. “But, a sommelier friend discouraged us, because of the local climate.” Then, the couple’s love of Calvados, the French apple brandy, pointed them toward spirits. “We already had the apples on the land, but apple brandy has a limited audience,” says Connolly. So, they began experimenting with small batches of rum and whiskey. “With the abundance of organic produce in Vermont, [those two spirits] were a natural transition.”
Six sold-out products later, Mad River Distillers is a hit. “We make a product that is truly artisanal,” says Connolly. “Our vision is farm-to-glass—we collaborate with local, family-owned farms and bring the fruit of their labor to market in the form of our spirits.” On March 4, the couple will host a tasting at the Whole Foods in Boston’s tony Ink Block. Even if you can’t make the event, you can always find the couple’s top-selling single malt whiskey, Hopscotch, plus other Mad River products, at beloved local eateries like Porto, Select Oysters, Deuxave, and La Voile. If you find your drink to be strong, just raise a glass to the powerful couple behind it. 172 Mad River Green, Waitsfield, VT, 802-496-6973
The team at Mad River Distillers provided the recipe for one of their favorite cocktails.
1.5 oz. Mad River Bourbon
.25 oz Strawberry Simple or 1 strawberry muddled with simple syrup
.75 oz Lemon Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake first 4 ingredients and strain over ice into a rocks glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a sliced strawberry.