Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bartlett Maine Estate WInery Wins Award for Distilled Spirits

Spirit world | Bartlett winery’s latest distilled passion wins accolades
Mainebiz editor

Like starting a business, creating a good wine is all about timing — selecting the fruit, monitoring the fermentation, aging in the appropriate barrel.

Kathe and Bob Bartlett know a lot about wines, as their Gouldsboro company, Bartlett Maine Estate Winery, has won numerous awards over its 30-year history. But recently, market trends have finally aligned for them to pursue another passion: distilling fruit into the intensely flavored spirits, or eau-de-vie, they fell in love with while touring Europe in early ‘90s.

“But the timing wasn’t right,” says Bob about making the spirits when the couple returned to Maine. “Everyone was making vodka ... there was this instant market. It was the juice drink or soda of that generation.”

Now tastes have changed. “Eau-de-vie has gotten more popular,” says Kathe, prompting the couple to form Spirits of Maine Distillery in 2007 and invest in the equipment to make the dry, aromatic spirit that for centuries has been used in Europe as a digestif following a meal.

This spring, two of the Bartletts’ eaux-de-vie took honors at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, which drew more than 1,000 entries from 61 countries. The Spirits of Maine pear eau-de-vie won a double gold and its apple brandy earned a silver medal. “We were very excited by the recognition,” says Kathe, noting the awards validate their many years spent perfecting techniques for fermenting fruit.

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