A Tour of New Hampshire's Picturesque Tamworth Distillery

Extracting liquid from a barrel with a glass dropper

Some distilleries find inspiration in nature. Others look to their own heritage. For New Hampshire’s Tamworth Distillery, terrain and tradition play equal roles in the making of their small-batch products—testaments both to old-timey, forgotten recipes, and to the natural bounty found in their surroundings.

Exterior photo of a distillery housed in a New Hampshire barnTamworth Distillery in New Hampshire. All photos courtesy of Breanne Furlong.

An old pickup truck being loaded with boxes outside a distillery

At a glance, the place seems like it’s been there for decades: a pastoral, renovated inn in a tiny town amidst New Hampshire’s White Mountains. In fact, the distillery was opened just a year ago by former advertiser Steven Grasse, who dreamed up both Sailor Jerry’s Rum and Hendrick’s Gin. His most recent project, Art in the Age of Mechanical Production, is a range of artisanal spirits inspired by long-lost recipes in American history: root liqueur modeled after circa-1700’s “root tea”; a ginger and molasses spirit that hearkens back to the Pennsylvania Dutch. Tamworth is where those spirits (among others) are conceived and produced.

Man standing in a field with a basket All of Tamworth's grains are sourced from within a 150-mile radius from the distillery, and many of their botanicals are from nearby farms (or the distillery's own garden).
Basket of wild clover flowersAfter being used in distillation, many botanicals are repurposed into jams, infusions, granola bars, and other products.

Words like “small batch” and “grain to glass” are seemingly ubiquitous among today’s crop of craft distillers, and Tamworth takes this same approach. The distillery prides itself on being a true farm-to-bottle company: all of the grains they use are GMO-free and sourced from within a 150-mile radius of the distillery, and most of the botanicals are collected from either the distillery’s own garden, or from neighboring farms. Tamworth also repurposes its ingredients once they’ve served their duties in the distillery, making cattle feed from spent grain and granola bars or jams from other botanicals. The quality of their ingredients is clearly a priority, and that goes for the water, too—Grasse says he chose New Hampshire mostly because the state’s unique geology will never allow fracking, ensuring consistently pure, untainted water (sourced from the nearby Ossipee Aquifier).

Pile of grains in the palm of a handThe grains, all of which are sourced from within 150 miles, are repurposed into cattle feed after distilling.
Landscape of mountains on a lakeFounder Steven Grasse chose to open Tamworth in New Hampshire for the purity of the state's water.

Inside the distillery, visitors will easily spot Tamworth's gleaming 250-gallon copper still. It was custom-made for Tamworth by the renowned Vendome Copper and Brass Works, a fourth-generation family company and one of very few U.S.-based copper fabricators making stills today. The distillery’s 300 barrels are housed in a building that once housed a boxing ring (the balcony seats are apparently still visible) and a dentist’s office. A recent release was named after an eighteenth-century German naturalist, and others cite the likes of twelfth-century German monks and Thomas Jefferson’s botanist among their influences. It’s safe to say that this place runs on history—though with a fully functioning test kitchen and a very active imagination, only time will tell what sort of unlikely creations Tamworth’s distillers might have in their future.

Distillery employees drilling holes into barrelsThe barrelhouse at Tamworth was once home to the village's prizefighting ring.
Extracting liquid from a barrel with a glass dropper
A distillery employee pours liquid into a barrel
Men pouring honey into a fermentation tank
Large copper still in the middle of a distilleryThe 1,300-square foot distillery uses a 250-gallon copper still made by Kentucky's Vendome Copper and Brass Works, a fourth-generation family business.
Close-up of an engraved copper still
Employees checking fermentation tanks in a distilleryTamworth's other distillery equipment includes a Scotch-style brandy helmet, a whisky column, a gin basket, four fermenters, six holding tanks, a hot water reclaiming system, and a mash cooker.
An old pair of work gloves resting next to a mash tank

 A distillery employee mixing in a mash tank.

Distillery employee working in a test kitchen

A distillery employee mixing liquids with a glass dropper
Distillery employee mixing liquids in a test kitchen
Distillery employee holding a glass vial of liquid
Distillery tasting room with guests trying drinks
Distillery tasting room filled with guests
Aerial shot of a distillery's tasting room
Bottles of gin and brandy displayed on a barTamworth Garden Apiary Gin, a gin slightly sweetened with local honey, and Eau De Vie, an unaged apple brandy.
Man in a baseball cap standing outsideSteven Grasse, founder of Tamworth Distillery.