It’s winter time in New England. That means cold. That means waking up in the morning and losing feeling in your extremities before the hot water hits the shower head. That means scraping stubborn frost off your windshield into line blow lines that your windshield wipers won’t even deal with, while your warm breathe fogs the inside of the windshield and the morning glare blinds you. If there is one thing it means a lot of, that’s snowfall. Except thus far this winter…we seem to have gotten off with just a touch of the stuff, enough to paralyze anything south of the Poconos for a week, but not enough for your average New Englander. I’ve got a little secret, over Christmas, I was given a little extra snowfall, as it were, and of a kind I much prefer…
No, I did not get cocaine for Christmas, no feliz navidad Medellin over here, officer. Instead I got my snowfall as it tends to come, sweep east from the moisture of the Great Lakes, dusting over the Green Mountains, and landing swift and pure in my lap. I got my Snowfall from Appalachian Gap—Appalachian Gap Distillery that is.
Appalachian Gap is an outfit out of Middlebury, Vermont, a town which itself is a miniature mecca of drinking delights. Otter Creek Brewing Company, Drop-In Brewing Company, Vermont Hard Cider (of Woodchuck fame,) Lincoln Peak Vineyard, and hell I just realized the coffee I drink every morning from Vermont Coffee Company comes from Middlebury. Into this (presumably drunken) scene arose Appalachian Gap, whose spirits are as unique as the town itself. They have staple spirits like Mythic Gin, which in this case isn’t an adjective, and Mosquito Fleet Rum, the even have Kaffevän Coffee Liquor—but they also have some far out drinks too, like a spirit distilled from corn, barley, and coffee, Kaffekask. More inventive yet is their very Vermont take on tequila, Papilio, which is distilled from blue agave and…maple syrup? Yes, maple syrup. Next up, fermented and distilled Ben and Jerry’s liqueur. But none of those beverages are the subject of my article, because, if I’m honest, I haven’t had any of them. Tonight, the forecast is Snowfall.
Snowfall, in my experience is an experience devoid of most of the senses. Its sensation is numbness, its image is a blank yet lustrous white, its smell is an almost startling absence of smell, crisp, cold, pure. Snowfall, however, is a stunning sensation. The nose of snowfall is a wonderful and unique expression that does not draw easy comparison to anything within my frame of reference. It’s light, vaporous, and has a full sweetness which is I can only think to describe as “pure.” None of this aroma would give the slightest hint that this is 108 proof, which is stunning given that I am basically huffing alcohol fumes. That unique characteristic of sweetness carries on into the first sip, opening up marvelously to display a pastiche of flavors, with a hint of warm cornbread opening into an almost taffy like note of round chewy sweetness with light fruity esters expressing just the suggestion of a banana note. The finish, is like the glow of a woodstove, with a gentle warmth which engulfs the palate, and just a touch of rye spice dances on the tongue and down the throat, lessening with each breathe.
I’ll be honest, I tend not to drink too many white whiskies, because I find them frankly unsatisfying, and they’re just a step (or a filtration) too close to being vodka. The same cannot be said of this fascinating expression. I have to imagine that the mash bill of this spirit, 45% barley, 30% corn, and 25% rye, has a lot to do with how lovely it tastes. That is not a normal mash-bill, and to my knowledge leaves this spirit, and its aged counter-part free of any legal classification beyond whiskey or delicious. Yes, you heard me right my friends, there is an aged counterpart to Snowfall, and while I have not yet had it, I know that my next trip across the Connecticut River will find me on a search for at least one Ridgeline.