Meet the Distiller

Hello friends of SILO! My name is Chris Maggiolo and I have the distinct pleasure of serving as our company’s head distiller. It is an amazing thing to be a part of such a distinct and energetic industry as the spirits industry and an even more amazing thing to participate in part of the craft movement here in Vermont.

That said, I haven’t always been a Vermonter…

I grew up in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, amidst the same mountain range which SILO calls home. I attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where I studied Historical Archaeology and Environmental Policy. My mentor, archaeologist Fred Smith, quite literally wrote the book on the history of Caribbean Rum, and that’s where my interest in spirits began. I spent the summers of 2008 and 2009 in Barbados, first doing fieldwork on sugar cane plantations, and then studying the local food and beverage scene.

After spending a couple of years working for the Williamsburg Winery I moved to Boston in 2011 to pursue a Masters of Gastronomy from Boston University. Concentrating on the craft beer and spirits movements, I spent the next four years researching the history and culture of alcohol production, consumption, and distribution. Concurrent with my studies, I helped build wholesaler and retailer relationships for Beverage Media Group and managed a local homebrewing store, and with whatever free time I could muster, I volunteered with local breweries and distilleries. I held a regular internship with GrandTen Distilling in South Boston* which was the capstone of these experiences and truly helped prepare me for the work I do today. (*An amazing outfit if you’ve not yet visited!)

In June of 2015, I accepted the position here at SILO and moved to the Upper Valley. My philosophies and those of SILO are closely intertwined. We commit to furthering the local and regional agricultural economies through the act of distillation. We seek to educate consumers about spirits and their production and consumption. A well-crafted beverage may be a beautiful addition to a meal or gathering and we truly hope that you’ll join us at the distillery to experience just that.

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Chris giving a tour of the distillery.

Life certainly hasn’t been the same since moving to Vermont and joining the team. I’m engaged to be married, I’m closing on a house this very afternoon, and I’m loving every minute of it. Thanks for joining me on the ride.

Your friendly neighborhood distiller,

Chris

Summer at SILO

This Summer SILO is teaming up with The Skinny Pancake to deliver even more local love to the Upper Valley. 

With the sun shining, the Bloody Mary bar stocked, Woodstock native Andrew Prior on the guitar and homemade Kimchi crepes on the menu; Skinny Sunday hit all of the senses last Sunday. 

From the homemade "Kim-cheese" to the classic Lumberjack - Skinny Pancake strives to provide local food to communities within the Upper Valley and beyond. As a major proponent of supporting local farmers and using quality ingredients ourselves; we were thrilled to have them. 

Wondering how you can make your very own SILO signature Bloody? Learn how from a SILO bartender. 

Now that you are a pro at making a top notch Bloody Mary, test your skills with us this Sunday, July 23rd, as we welcome Strangled Darlings to our patio for an afternoon of… what else, but: Music and Marys.

Pups welcome on the patio! Just look at that happy face. 

Want to have your own private event here? Find out how!

Stay tuned for the next Skinny Sunday! 

Independence Day

July 4, 2017
Chris Maggiolo, Head Distiller

Welcome to our inaugural blog post! As I’m writing this on July 4th, our nation’s Independence Day, it seems fitting to explore a brief overview of the history of distilling as it pertains to America. Enjoy!

“As American as apple pie” is a phrase known to most of us, and while pie certainly reflects America’s agricultural past, distilling (and perhaps to a greater degree, whiskey) also has a rich and stirring history. Whiskey came to the American colonies with the first European settlers, namely Scottish and Irish immigrants, and became quickly embedded in the day-to-day lives of the colonists. During the Revolutionary War, whiskey and rum were among the most valuable commodities and were frequently used as currency. While rum was undoubtedly popular, the war contributed heavily to its decline and the rise of domestically produced whiskey. Most whiskey at this time was made from rye, though corn whiskey would develop in a region of Virginia known as “Kentucky”.

Fun Fact: In the early 1800s, Allegheny County, PA was producing a half barrel of whiskey (typically rye whiskey) for every man, woman, and child living in America.

So prolific was this spirited commerce that many tariffs and taxes were levied against the production of distilled and fermented beverages. In 1791, the “Whiskey Tax” was established as an excise tax applied to distilled spirits. This led to widespread rural unrest and eventually culminated in the aptly named “Whiskey Rebellion”. Farmers who had been distilling their surplus grain protested against the new tax and some even raised up arms against the tax collectors. President George Washington retaliated with force and eventually pardoned those “whiskey boys” who were caught.

Whiskey consumption continued to soar, peaking in 1830 with an annual rate of seven gallons per person older than fifteen. Consumption then plummeted with the advent of the Temperance Movement. 1845 saw an average per capita consumption of 1.8 gallons. With the Civil War, spirits again became a valuable economic good.

The “Noble Experiment” of Prohibition arrived with the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920 and banned the production, sale, and use of alcohol in the United States. One could, however, get a prescription of medical whiskey from a doctor.  Prohibition was repealed in 1933 after it failed to curb alcohol consumption, instead contributing to a rise in organized crime and binge drinking.

Did You Know? In 1964, congress declared bourbon whiskey to be the nation’s official distilled spirit.

The American Craft Spirits Association defines a craft distillery as an independently licensed distiller producing fewer than 750,000 proof gallons (a gallon of alcohol at 100 proof) annually. Founded in 1982, St. George Spirits in Alameda, CA is widely considered to be the first craft distillery in the United States. As of August 2016, there are as many as 1300 craft distilleries in operation nation-wide. With the success of the craft beer industry paving the way, craft distilling is witnessing unprecedented growth.

While “As American as bourbon whiskey” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as its Apple Pie cousin, it can’t be denied that our nation’s past is tied inextricably to that of distilling. Fireworks, barbecues, and a cold beer may still be the hallmark of Independence Day, but a nice red, white, and blue cocktail or a dram of whiskey have their patriotic nods, too. No matter which way you roll, stay classy and stay proud.

And Happy Independence Day.