A Fresh Take on Old Spirits: This SOB's Revolutionary Distillery Story
It's fun when a company's name allows you to play with words and puns. Like getting our audience's attention by titling this article "This SOBs Revolutionary Distillery Story" in honor of our local distillery, Spirits of Old Bennington (SOB - get it?).
But let's get real - this stuff really is revolutionary!
Founded in 2014, Spirits of Old Bennington is a Southern Vermont Distillery focused on "Distilling Vermont Traditions to Perfection." Spirits of Old Bennington was born out of Vermont’s "Revolutionary" traditions. The spirits embody the complex character of the Shires of Vermont region. The ghosts of Vermont’s past and agricultural roots guide their crafting of the highest quality artisanal spirits. From battlefields to taverns to the covered bridges that gave cover to Prohibition-era bootleggers, the distillery engages local farmers, artists and innovative businesses to establish their supply chain for ingredients and build their brand. In true revolutionary spirit and like the Green Mountain Boys themselves, SOB is storming the craft distilling market with their premium, unique-flavored gins, rums and cocktails.
In 2016, founder and distiller Ken Lorenz opened his Tasting Room in the old Vermont Tissue Mill at 1514 N Bennington Rd in North Bennington. Ken, an engineer and project manager, launched the business while still working his day job. Today, Lorenz works at the Distillery full time and has distribution in Vermont and New York with his signature products Sedition Gin, Covered Bridge Rum and Kilted Wheat Whiskey on the shelves of 40 stores in VT and 11 stores in NY. For a great cocktail, their spirits have hit the back bars of great restaurants and bars in NY and VT.
The craft distilling industry continues to grow across the country with premium gin and rum products making huge headway in the market. Lorenz was keeping pace as a one-man show, but realized that he had reached a tipping point and to grow his business needed help. In the summer of 2017 he reached out to Dr. Jeb Gorham, Associate Professor and Director of Southern Vermont College's Sustainable Ventures Program. Gorham and his students worked with Ken on his original business model and plan in 2013 as a class project. Lorenz was in search of internship support, but Gorham offered to one-up his offer. Gorham and his Business Division colleague, Dr. Stacey Hills, who both work as professors and industry practitioners agreed to discuss opportunities for them to become involved with the Distillery, offering years of experience and expertise in business growth, branding and marketing. The partnership was a no-brainer.
The trio tested their team chemistry throughout early fall 2017 and officially signed an agreement where Lorenz, Gorham and Hills will move forward as partners. Gorham and Hills have become cofounders where Hills will serve as Brand Marketing Strategist and Gorham as Business Growth Strategist.
Hills earned a Bachelor’s degree from Russell Sage College and a Ph.D. in Management from RPI.
Stacey spent ten years as an academician at Utah State University before joining SVC as Business Division Chair and Associate Professor in 2013. Her expertise in branding and marketing make her a valuable asset to the team.
Gorham worked in the Fitness, Health and Wellness industry for over ten years before joining SVC in 2011. Jeb holds degrees from Skidmore College and the University of Maryland, College Park in science-related fields and a Ph.D. in Sport and Exercise Science – Sport Administration from the University of Northern Colorado. Gorham is the ideas guy and always thinking about how to reframe business directions and create the successful pivot.
Moving forward the team has lofty goals. There are plans for facility expansion into additional space at the current North Bennington Distillery, a strategic focus on premium gin and rum product lines, a new product line of canned cocktails, expanded distribution and a full overhaul of the brand and marketing tactics. Things are headed in the right direction as the Distillery was recently nominated for Vermont SBA’s MicroEnterprise of the Year.
Currently, the Distillery’s tasting room is opened for weekend tours and events where locals and visitors can experience craft spirits that embody the complex character of our region. From game nights to new product testing, the distillery offers a unique social scene. On any Saturday night you can expect to see the regulars and new faces engaged in conversation as Ken mixes cocktails, gives impromptu tours and shares new artisanal creations like his citrus, floral and hopped gin test batches.
To learn more about Spirits of Old Bennington visit: www.spiritsofoldbennington.com.