Growth at Saxtons River Distillery leads to expansion, new locale

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BRATTLEBORO — Saxtons River Distillery is planning to move to another main thoroughfare in town.

"We have grown and have been looking for a good site for two years now," said Christian Stromberg, distillery owner and operator. "Having looked at just about every property in town, what appealed to me about Route 9 is the fact that it's a good road. It's an access road for the rest of the state. The reality is it has double the traffic we have now."

Stromberg started the business in Saxtons River in 2006 and moved it to West River Road off Route 30 in Brattleboro in 2011. He said getting visibility is critical — the distillery's retail shop is important to its viability. Part of the appeal, he added, is showing the production side.

The idea is to construct a new building for the distillery and renovate an existing barn at the American Traders property owned by Tim and Lucinda Cuthbertson at 257 Marlboro Road in Brattleboro. The town's Development Review Board approved of the plans during a hearing last Monday.

"We are hoping to move into the existing barn at American Traders with our retail, events and offices before the end of the year," Drew Kacik, marketing and promotions manager at Saxtons River Distillery, told the Reformer. "Bottling and labeling will soon follow in the former American Traders production wing shortly after. The new distillery project will break ground next year as soon as possible. Once completed, in roughly two years, the plan is to move distillation into the new facility. This will create a true destination for visitors as well as locals."

Adam Hubbard, of Hubbard Land Design, said the new production facility would be 48 by 120 feet. A new paved loop would be added to the property, keeping customers and delivery trucks in mind with parking spots by the retail space and a loading dock behind the distillery.

Hubbard said the plan is to plant apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, edibles and other pollinating vegetation on the property, all of which strayed from the town's landscape standards.

"Honestly, we're feeling the requirement was a little intense," he told the DRB.

Stromberg said he does not want landscaping to look like he picked trees out of a catalog. Brattleboro Zoning Administrator Brian Bannon did not think the plan would be violating regulations.

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"I think Adam's proposed a really specific program and approach to landscaping," said Bannon.

The design takes into account floodplain regulations and accessibility for people with disabilities. A bike rack and a charging station for electric vehicles were also included in the proposal that was altogether applauded by neighbors in the audience. Act 250 permitting from the state is not necessary, according to company officials.

Steve Lloyd, a member of West Brattleboro Association's Commercial Spaces Committee, said he's excited about the plans. He is a retired architect who lives near the site.

"A new business like Saxtons River Distillery is a good fit for West Brattleboro," he said. "Because it's manufacture and sale of a local product, it adds to the unique community identity. It expands the tax base. It offers jobs. Because Saxtons River Distillery would be making a substantial investment in this property, I anticipate that it would be there for a long time. This would add to the commercial stability of West Brattleboro."

Michael Bosworth, a member of the same committee, said he is "definitely" in favor of the project and hopes it will happen.

"This is the type of business I think we'd like to see move into West Brattleboro and to expand in Brattleboro itself," he said, adding that local ownership is good to see.

Expansion continues for the company. Kacik told the Reformer that three "brand ambassadors" were hired in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire to spread the word about the business. He's also hosting a cocktail class at the Massachusetts-based Boston Public Market's Kitchen once a month through December.

"Craft spirits are really getting attention right now and we want to be ready," he said.

The distillery just added two states to its distribution list: Maryland and Michigan — making the liquor available in 12 states now. Local products are used for making its Sapling Maple Liqueur, Sapling Maple Bourbon, Sapling Maple Rye, Perc Coffee Liqueur and dry gin called Snowdrop.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.


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