Middlebury distillery seeking to expand its footprint

MIDDLEBURY — Appalachian Gap Distillery officials on Sept. 12 will seek final approval from the town of Middlebury for a major expansion of their headquarters at 88 Mainelli Road, which would provide the growing company with much-needed storage, bottling and tasting room space.
Established in 2012, Appalachian Gap is a distiller of whiskey, gin, rum, agave and bourbon, sourcing much of the rye, barley and other raw ingredients from local farms. And company co-owners Lars Hubbard and Charles Burkins confirmed last week that they will soon add a vodka to their product list.
The duo is running the distillery out of around 2,000 square feet of their 6,000-square-foot building, which also hosts the Champlain Valley Creamery and the Friday Group, through which Hubbard and Burkins provide architectural specification services and related software to clients throughout the world who are designing large and complex buildings.
Needless to say, Hubbard and Burkins were more than capable of designing the 5,400-plus square feet of new space to be added to 88 Mainelli Road to accommodate App Gap’s growth. Much of that will be in the form of a steel-framed building to store and age App Gap’s whiskey. A connector between that steel structure and the main building will house some new warehouse and storage space, along with a loading dock. Finally, a 1,000-square-foot addition off the south side of the building will host the distillery’s bottling and packaging functions.
The project will also allow for modest expansion of App Gap’s tasting room — which has become an increasingly popular spot since the creation of an Addison County “tasting trail” that showcases area breweries, cideries, vineyards and spirits manufacturers.
“We are exploding at the seams in this place; we don’t have enough room,” Hubbard said, noting business has been growing at around 20 percent to 30 percent each year.
The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) has approved financing of $100,000 for what is being estimated as a $537,500 project. Appalachian Gap Distillery expects to create five new jobs within three years of its expansion, according to a VEDA press release.
App Gap products are currently available in Vermont, Massachusetts and Australia. App Gap entered the Boston market around six weeks ago, and the company’s gin is getting a particularly warm reception there, according to Hubbard.
Looking ahead, App Gap officials want to make sure they are not only satisfying growing demand, they also want to maintain enough stock to age. Some of their Ridgeline whiskey is now reaching the three-year mark.
“The whiskey that we made yesterday will be consumed three or four years from now,” Hubbard said. “One of the fundamentals of whiskey production is that you have to plan two, three, four years ahead for production, so that you can meet potential demand.”
App Gap currently produces around 1,000 cases of spirits per year, a figure Hubbard would like to ramp up to 2,000 within the next couple of years.
The company currently has around 1,500 cases of whiskey sitting in barrels. The new storage building will boost the distillery’s storage capacity to around 7,000 cases.
“If we grew any faster, we would be in trouble,” Hubbard said.
If all goes according to plan, App Gap will break ground on its expansion project on Oct. 1 and complete it the within six months. And when work gets under way, you will see Hubbard occasionally step away from his architectural and distilling jobs to pick up a hammer to assist with construction.
“I have a ridiculous capacity for working too hard,” Hubbard said with a chuckle.
“We don’t want this to get boring.”
More information on the Appalachian Gap Distillery can be found at appalachiangap.com.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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