CAMDEN—On a dreary, Friday afternoon where a nor’easter was spending the last of its energy across the Midcoast, the interior of the new Blue Barren Distillery, adjacent to the Lyman-Morse marina was cheery and bright with flowers, an array of hors d’oeuvres and tasting glasses. Gone from the industrial room were the large plastic totes of blueberry wine that previously dominated the space. Co-owners Andrew Stewart of The Drouthy Bear and Jeremy Howard, a seventh generation blueberry farmer with Brodis Blueberries in Hope, were on hand all weekend to give guests a special preview of their 2019 Spring tasting of the distillery’s first product, Eau de Vie, a blueberry brandy crafted from the blueberries they both harvested from Hope.
Stewart and Howard gave an hour-long presentation on their journey of the new distillery, why they chose blueberries for their first product and how the brandy was distilled. “This year we had some factors that delayed the brandy,” said Howard. “We had to harvest the blueberries, but our equipment hadn’t arrived yet, so we turned it into wine. Next year, when we harvest the blueberries, they’ll go right into the fermenters, and the blueberry mash will go directly into the still.”
Each guest got to sample the clear fruit brandy, which surprisingly, had very little blueberry taste. Stewart and Howard could have opted to re-infuse blueberry color back into the Eau de Vie, but chose to keep it stripped down on its own merits. Guests then had the chance to make up cocktails on the sidebar with the brandy as the base as they learned more about the distilling process and their Vendome stainless steel and copper one-hundred-gallon pot still.
The tasting room is still undergoing renovations and Stewart and Howard plan on a May opening with tables outside. Anyone who wants to buy a bottle of Eau de Vie now while they still have it, visit their Facebook page.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org