Caledonia Spirits, Hardwick, Caledonia County, Vermont, USA.
The North East of Vermont is an agricultural based area consisting of three counties, and since the 1950’s, has been commonly referred to as the Northeast Kingdom. Established in 1792 Caledonia County is part of this “Kingdom”, and is so called because of the large number of Scottish settlers to the area (first used by the ancient Romans, Caledonia is the Latin name for Scotland).
The distillery is in the town of Hardwick and like many towns in Caledonia County is the central hub to a large community of farms, as can be found in nearby Greensboro which is home to Todd D. Hardie. Originally from Maryland, Todd comes from a farming background and one of his specialities is bee keeping. This interest began when he was 12 and, along with an Agricultural Science degree from Cornell University, has led to over 3 decades as a commercial apiarist (and farmer). These days being a farmer requires a large dose of entrepreneurial skills and Todd has proved to be no exception to this. While experimenting with uses for honey and making Mead, thoughts started to formulate on making other drinks with honey, and in 2008 Todd set up Caledonia Spirits & Winery.
In 1817 Todd’s Great-Great-Grandfather, Thomas Hardie left Edinburgh, Scotland and set up a new life as a farmer in Maryland, USA. A phrase by Thomas Hardie is used in the farms marketing today: “The best fertilizer is the footprint of the farmer,” showing how much farming is still in the blood. But what about the Spirits? Thomas Hardie left behind a brother and his two sons, John and William, started making Scotch Whisky in 1857. Today, J.W. Hardie Ltd. is still operating in Inverness, bottling and blending Whisky for Tomatin Distillery, proving farming is not the only thing to run in the Hardie family’s blood.
Todd Hardie used to manage nearly 2,000 beehives up until the beginning of the Millennium. However as his drinks business increased, and the move to Greenboro being a less suitable location for beekeeping, most of the hives have been “farmed” out. These have gone to long-term colleagues already in the bee-keeping industry, with much of the honey used by the distillery supplied by the same people.
Check out this You Tube video of Todd Hardie talking about how using outside support has helped grow the business.