At Hooker Mountain Farm, we believe diversity is a good thing, especially when it comes to farming.
Gone are the days when small, subsistence farms blanketed the New England landscape, but maybe those old timers were on to something. After all, the first agricultural boom that settled this neck of Vermont back in the early 1800s was growing grain. And sure enough, those first hill farmers didn't do it for the grain, they did it for the whiskey.
The act of distilling alcohol from grain is a key piece of American technology that has all but vanished from our agricultural traditions.
You see, in diversified farming, where animals are involved, they need to eat. Many types of livestock, especially chickens and pigs, love to eat grain, but to get the most nutrition out of that grain, it must be cooked first. If one is raising all that grain, then cooking it, just to feed it out to animals instead of their family, well, that seems like a lot of work, huh?
We want you to realize that all alcohol starts with agriculture.
Then imagine the farm that has a pot still instead of just a kettle. By cooking grain, like the farmer would anyway, but then fermenting it and then distilling the mash, that farmer still has his grain to feed out and a barrel of alcohol to boot! Better yet, now that the cooked grain has been fermented and much of the starches removed, it's much higher in protein and more digestible.
So, when people ask us about our business model here at the farm, I tell them it's very forward thinking, it's from about 1815.
During the height of the war of 1812, our town of Cabot had roughly a dozen different distilleries in it, doing exactly the same thing we are now. Raising grain in this fickle climate of extremes amongst the rocks, feeding our distillery grain back to our pigs and chickens, relying on the waste of cows and hogs to fertilize our fields, hoping for more sunshine and then hoping for some rain, picking the wild fruits of our fields and forests, looking to trees to give us warmth and sweetness, raising our family and making the best damn alcohol we can.