Shelburne firm invests in craft spirits

Shelburne-based venture capital fund FreshTracks Capital announced recently that it will be invest in Caledonia Spirits, a rapidly growing Vermont distillery that produces Barr Hill Gin, Tom Cat Gin, and Barr Hill Vodka.

“The craft spirits trend is still early in its development, similar to where craft beer was 10 or 20 years ago,” said T.J. Whalen, managing director of FreshTracks. “We believe the entire craft spirits segment will continue to expand, and we’re confident that Caledonia Spirits will continue to gain national prominence.”

Located in Hardwick, the distillery was established in 2009 by Greensboro resident Todd Hardie as an extension of his Ferrisburg-based company Honey Garden Apiaries, where he spent more than 30 years raising bees and selling honey. In that tradition, Caledonia Spirits products are distilled on site, and use raw northern honey in the recipe.

Head distiller Ryan Christiansen of Orange took over operations of Caledonia Spirits in 2015 and is now president of the growing company, which distributes to 30 states. The investment from FreshTracks Capital is expected to help the company expand distribution.

“We believe in supporting Vermont’s agricultural economy by making our products with the highest-quality, local, raw ingredients,” Christiansen said. “As we grow the company, we remain committed to our founding principles, and to Vermont, a place that makes Barr Hill products so special.”

Caledonia has received several notable national and international awards for its spirits, including the “Gin of the Year” award at the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition, the “Double Gold” award at New York International Sprits Competition, and “Best in Class” at the American Distilling Institute’s Judging of Craft Spirits.

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