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Legends Behind the Craft

Aug 3, 2023

Ryan Christiansen, President, and Head Distiller at Barr Hill by Caledonia Spirits, discovered his passion for fermentation through brewing beer at home. This fascination led him to open a home brewing store, but fate intervened when he met beekeeper, Todd Hardie. Their shared vision of infusing spirits with the essence of honey inspired Ryan to venture into distillation. A decade later, his dedication to working with bees and raw honey has yielded exceptional spirits, enriching cocktail culture and redefining the connection between agriculture and mixology.


Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Ryan shares his journey into the spirits industry

  • The state of the bee population in Vermont and the distillery's efforts to support pollinator habitats

  • Ryan discusses the technical aspects of distilling gin and vodka from honey

  • The unique approach that differentiates them from traditional honey producers and distilleries

  • A spotlight on Barr Hill Vodka, its production process, and the mission connecting cocktail culture to agriculture

  • The flavor profile sought in honeys used for Barr Hill Gin and how they choose the correct honey for the distillation process

  • The Bee's Knees Week and Bee the Change and their efforts to promote pollinator habitat in visible locations

  • Insights into Barr Hill's barrel cooperage and the aging process of barrel gin

  • Understanding where honey comes into play during the gin-making process

  • The journey from beekeeping to rye farming and the process of crafting whiskey

  • Reflections on the growth of Barr Hill and Caledonia Spirits, and lessons learned along the way

  • A glimpse into the unique Kingdom Strength Tom Cat


In this episode with Ryan Christiansen

We sit down with Ryan Christiansen of Barr Hill, a Vermont distillery known for crafting exceptional spirits from honey. Ryan takes us on a journey into the spirits industry and shares his passion for beekeeping and sustainable practices. We delve into the technical aspects of distilling their unique gin and vodka, exploring how honey plays a central role in the process. 

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon are joined by Ryan Christiansen, the President & Head Distiller of Barr Hill by Caledonia Spirits. Discover the flavor profiles they seek in their spirits and how they differentiate themselves from other distilleries and honey producers. We also explore their dedication to supporting the bee population in Vermont and their partnership with "Bee the Change" to promote pollinator habitats. From their acclaimed Barr Hill Vodka to the intriguing Tom Cat Gin, learn about the innovative approach and meticulous craft behind Barr Hill's offerings. We'll also gain insights into the journey from beekeeping to rye farming, witnessing the growth of Barr Hill and Caledonia Spirits, and Ryan's reflections on the path taken.


Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

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