Mad River Distillers is based in Warren, Vermont, where it was founded in 2011 by John Egan, Brett Little, and Maura Connolly to produce high-quality, handcrafted spirits using locally-sourced, non-GMO ingredients and local spring water. The company now has four rums, three whiskeys, and a brandy in its lineup — and more stuff is on the way.
Our first encounter with Mad River looks at two of its rums. Let’s dig in.
Mad River Maple Cask Rum – This is a rum made from demerara sugar, aged in charred oak barrels then finished in spirit barrels that previously held maple syrup. Initially quite rustic, this rum eventually sheds some of its aromas of burlap, raw wood, and mushroom to reveal more layered aromas of licorice, raisin, and Eastern spices. There’s nothing much in the realm of maple syrup here, as the palate is on the raw side, pungent with greener vegetal notes and oily petrol, but here the rum also opens up given some time to reveal a reprise of sweet licorice plus bitter amaro, juicy prune, and a touch of ginger on the finish. Interesting — but ultimately rough — stuff. 92 proof. B / $36
Mad River PX Rum Limited Edition – Same deal as Maple Cask, only the finishing barrel is a Pedro Ximenez sherry barrel, quite unusual for rum. Rich and nutty, this is the opposite of Maple Cask in that the sherry is evident right from the start, with a nutty, wine-scented aroma that overlays a funky interior. The palate is in keeping with the nose, a pungent and forceful collection of flavors that coalesce into notes of raisin, fig, and sharp tobacco notes, with a finish that exudes cloves, nutmeg, and well-torched sugar. This is again an intense rum with tons of flavor, but here the balance is better, and the overall character is so unique that it’s hard to put down. 92 proof. Reviewed: Batch #2. A- / $42