Spirits of Old Bennington to close
"It's a tough market, and we haven't been able to make enough inroads to make this profitable, to keep it going," Kenneth Lorenz, owner of the distillery, told the Banner Wednesday.
The distillery announced the closure on its Facebook page Tuesday.
"The Hardest Post to Write," says the post. "We are Closing Down. Thanks for the Memories."
The post had garnered 66 likes and 37 comments as of Wednesday afternoon, most of them expressing sadness at the news.
"People are kind of sad to see it go," Lorenz said of local reaction to the closing. "To see it fail more than to see it go. We didn't really have that big of a following locally."
Besides issues with connecting with distributors both in Vermont and out-of-state, Lorenz said, he also had trouble with beverages not being listed by the state's Division of Liquor Control, which must approve liquors before they are allowed to be sold in Vermont stores.
Jeb Gorham and Stacey Hills were previously partners in the business. The partnership was dissolved last week.
"They declined to list, most recently, my gin," Lorenz said. "It was hard to even get stuff in stores in Vermont."
Lorenz plans to hold a farewell party all day on Oct. 20, where equipment will be up for sale.
A closing date has not been set, but he plans to close the distillery before the end of the year.
"By Thanksgiving, we'll be wrapped up and out of here," he said. "That's the plan."
Spirits of Old Bennington was Lorenz's first foray into operating a distillery. It operates out of a leased space in the old Vermont Tissue Company plant, nestled about next to the Paper Mill Village covered bridge on Route 67A.
Previously, Lorenz worked in manufacturing for General Electric and other large companies, he said.
He plans to leave the distillery business.
"Because it didn't succeed," he said.
Spirits of Old Bennington, a craft distillery, makes gins, rums and canned cocktails, according to its website.
Products are sold directly to stores, and there were also tastings, along with presence at local farmers markets, Lorenz said.
Lorenz also distributes product in New York State, but it's been "slow growth" there too, he said.
The market for distilleries isn't really viable in Bennington County, Lorenz said.
"You don't have a big enough tourism base here, unless you want to run a bar/distillery," he said. "It's pretty difficult."
Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at email@example.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.
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