Of all the gin joints: Gov. Baker visits Berkshire Mountain Distillers to mark new pouring license
SHEFFIELD — The bartender filled a glass with ice. He poured a finger of Greylock Gin into the glass and topped it off with a splash of tonic.
Gov. Charlie Baker lifted the glass and took a sip.
"Wow," he said. "That really tastes like summer."
It was the first cocktail served by Berkshire Mountain Distillers, which recently obtained a farmer distilleries pouring permit. This new classification was created in 2013.
The company now will now serve drinks from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays at its South Main Street operation.
"It will help us compete with the big distilleries," said distillery owner Chris Weld. "It will help us get the word out there."
Baker was in town Thursday afternoon to tour the 9-year-old business, which distills local spirits with names like Ice Glen Vodka, Berkshire Bourbon and the award-winning Greylock Gin.
"Honestly, I was visiting a friend a few weeks ago and he had a bottle of one of their products on his table," Baker said. "And it was delicious. I thought, 'Geez, I've never heard of these guys. I should come out here and see what this is about.' "
"By the way," he said. "I'm not driving."
Baker, who folded his distillery visit into a visit out to several other Western Massachusetts venues, was treated to a tour of the facility by Weld — who also served as bartender. The facility includes a giant 14-foot still, as well as a greenhouse, packaging area and warehouse.
Weld has been in business since 2007. He first operated the business out of his farm a few miles away, later moving the entire operation to its present location.
"We're a growing organization," Weld said. "Greylock Gin was voted the Number 1 craft gin in the country by The New York Times."
Berkshire Mountain Distillers products are now distributed in 19 states. But Weld said the focus remains local.
"There's something to be said for supporting local businesses," he said. "You generate local products and generate local jobs. But you can't expect people to open their wallets if you don't have a quality product. We understand that. It's what drives us."
The governor seemed convinced.
"It's a neat operation," Baker said. "I commend them for hiring local people and referring their customers to local restaurants and businesses that sell their products."
Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.
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