Whiskey Review: Village Garage Distillery’s Village Bourbon

, | February 13, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by The Village Garage Distillery. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

In September of 2021, Vermont’s Village Garage Distillery released Village Bourbon, the first whiskey offering from the newly opened distillery (2021). The five-year-old straight bourbon whiskey is crafted from native Vermont corn and rye and aged in American White Oak barrels. The bourbon’s label states the spirit is, “[h]and selected and bottled by Village Garage Distillery…” but until their own in-house bourbon is available in the summer of 2023, the distillery makes it clear that, “[t]he current bourbon release is made at a fellow Vermont distillery to Village Garage’s specifications, with the same mash bill and locally sourced corn and rye.” Regardless of provenance, this initial offering raised my eyebrow – in a good way.

Village Garage Distillery calls downtown Bennington, Vermont, home. The town itself is located near Woodford Mountain in the southwest corner of Vermont, a stone’s throw from New York state. Although Bennington may have a relatively small population (+/- 16,000), it’s a lively town according to Yankee Magazine, “Bennington, is a jumble of artsy shops and cafés that have a jittery beat-poet buzz, spiced up with some highly regarded museums.” Village Garage appears to have embraced the vibe, locating the distillery in the former garage of Bennington’s highway department — known colloquially as, you guessed it, “the village garage.”

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According to co-founders and Vermont natives Matt Cushman and Glen Sauer, their families have farmed the local for back eight generations. So, with roots deep in their native soil, they founded the distillery. Working with their Head Distiller, Ryan Scheswohl, they not only source their grains from Vermont farms; the spirit’s water is drawn from Bolles Brook as it winds its way down from Woodford Mountain, lending weight to the distillery’s slogan: “The Spirit of the Green Mountains.”

Village Garage Distillery Village Bourbon review

Village Garage Distillery Village Bourbon (image via Devon Lyon)

Tasting Notes: Village Garage Distillery’s Village Bourbon (Batch #2)

Vital Stats: Aged five years in American White Oak barrels. 90 proof, 45% ABV. Mash bill: 60% corn, 40% rye. MSRP $60.00

Appearance: The spirit’s color is copper fused with caramel and a glint of gold when bloomed with a little backlight. The legs formed medium-fast and ran long.

Nose: A surprisingly light and mellow nose, I experienced subtle oak with hints of applesauce and trace aromatics that evoked childhood memories of fruit roll-ups.

Palate: Richer than the pleasantly understated nose initially lets on, this “high-rye” bourbon starts out lightly sweet, then quickly moves to a more rich and peppery place, ending with a kick of spice and a long, warm finish. The bourbon is complex enough to satisfy the more studied but readily approachable for the causal drinker.

The Takeaway
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Summary

According to a video released by Vermont Tourism and the Distilled Spirits Council of Vermont, over the past twelve years Vermont’s distilled spirits industry has grown from less than a handful of distillers to over twenty. So, if you’re looking for a New England spirit and imbibing a Vermont newcomer’s maiden offering piques your interest, I recommend giving Village Garage’s bourbon a sip (or more). Looking forward a bit into 2023, it will be interesting to taste their upcoming in-house offering compared against this bourbon.

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Devon Lyon

Devon Lyon has spent the past two decades producing video content as well as writing copy and scripts for clients around the globe. But no matter how strong his natural wanderlust, it’s the Pacific Northwest he calls home. Whether it’s the growing local craft spirit scene, world-class wines, or a...