We spoke recently with Jesse and Kasey Lupo of Real Maine member Mossy Ledge Spirits. With experience in welding and carpentry, Jesse began making his own style of stills and distillery equipment around 15 years ago and selling them across the country. That blossomed into the Lupos starting their own distilling business, complete with tasting room and mobile bar.
Your tasting room opened five years ago, and since that time, your offerings have grown from a few spirits to more than 20. What are some of the ways that new spirits come to be?
Some is what Jesse has always wanted to make – the whiskeys. Some is what Kasey likes – the cordial flavors. Others are from customer requests, such as cherry cordial, pineapple cordial and blood orange cordial. Cinnamon cordial was steeped with fresh cinnamon sticks because we had some laying around, and it came out amazing. That led to the sweet tea cordial, steeped with tea bags. Holy Hell vodka was made when our neighbor and good friend John brought down some extra jalapenos from his garden. We tried to make a white rum and it was too strong on flavor, so we made it into dark rum. Apple brandy came about because our local orchard had a windstorm and lost a lot of apples to the ground. They made it into cider for us, and we fermented and distilled it into brandy. Our barrel rested gin was made with barely used apple brandy barrels.
What ingredients from Maine do you use in your spirits? Why is it important to you to use those local ingredients?
We have always been about supporting local. All our grains come from Maine Malt House in Mapleton. Our apples for the brandy are from Conant Orchards, right here in Etna. When we don’t grow enough jalapenos to get us through the year, we order them from Dennis Food Service, which is in Hampden and employee owned – they also shop local. Our recent batch of jalapenos came from Lewiston. Our pizza dough is made in Auburn. We get our black strap molasses from Feed Commodities International in Detroit, ME – we’ve learned not to have them try to fill containers on a 35-degree day.
Your tasting room and mobile bar are 100 percent solar powered. Why is being environmentally friendly a priority for Mossy Ledge Spirits?
Kasey has always been very environmentally conscious – she even hated that a few trees had to be cut to get full sun on the solar panels. For Jesse, it just made financial sense. It is something that we always forget to mention unless you come for a tour. With the mobile bar, it was a no brainer – a generator would be loud, and the point of the mobile trailer is to take it where there isn’t a bar.
What is something Mainers might not know about the craft distilling business?
We don’t drink as much as you think, but yes, sometimes we do drink in the morning. We still work even when we are on vacation or taking time away from the distillery. We in the craft alcohol business don’t make as much off the products as people think we may.
Real Maine is the state’s official agriculture and agritourism promotions program. From distilleries to fiber producers to Christmas tree farms, plan your Real Maine agricultural experience. Visit www.RealMaine.com to connect to farms, food, and agriculture throughout Maine.