HARRINGTON, Maine – When Myron Spaulding ran his barbecue joint in Jonesboro, he had plenty of regulars that gave him their homemade liquors to try.
“Half of the customers at the restaurant would say ‘Oh, look at this batch I made. Here, I have a pint for you,’” he said.
While the whiskey-loving pitmaster said there is plenty of backwoods distilling of moonshine going on Down East, the eastern reaches of Maine haven’t had an on-the-books distillery where residents and visitors could get locally made spirits.
Spaulding changed that this weekend when he opened H&S Spirits, a distillery producing whiskeys, moonshine and liqueurs that are just beginning to hit store shelves.
“It’s kind of neat,” he said Sunday during the Harrington distillery’s soft opening. “Where else can you drive on Route 1 in Down East Maine and stop at a distillery for a tasting?”
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Set in a former grange hall, the business is the state’s 23rd distillery. Spaulding started H&S with his wife, Linda, and some other investors. The distillery plans to open to the public in October.
One of the points of pride for Spaulding is his use of local fruits. Among his first commercially available drinks is a pair of liqueurs made with cranberries and blueberries from Harrington.
They’re not overly sweet, and Spaulding likes to have them alone after dinner or in a sparkling wine for a spritzer.
“I’m producing products that are from this area,” Spaulding said while dolling out samples to a couple locals, including a Down East shop owner who was interested in putting the drinks on her shelves. “I really want to try and highlight some of the fruits in this area.”
Spaulding also offers a clear moonshine, a cinnamon whiskey and a whiskey called Harrington Hooch. Several other batches of whiskey are aging in oak barrels and are destined to emerge as bourbon no sooner than 2026.
Thirsty patrons should also keep their eyes out for a cranberry brandy in the future, and, depending on what other local fruits he can get his hands on in the coming seasons, possibly something made with Maine grown-strawberries, peaches and apples.
Like when Spaulding took up barbecuing 30 years ago, this new passion for distilling spirits started out as a hobby and grew into a business. Spaulding needed something to do during the pandemic when he decided to close his restaurant and do catering only. The retiree ended up finding a mentor in one of his liquor-making restaurant regulars and worked his way up to his current small commercial 50-gallon still setup.
“My wife told me I had to find something to do in the winter,” Spaulding said. “I said, ‘Okay, I am going to start a distillery.’”
H&S Spirits plans to have a grand opening on Oct. 1 at its tasting room and distillery on Route 1.