Eat, Drink And Be indie: Tasty Recipes, Inspiring Maker Stories & Exclusives

Berkshire Mountain Distillers

Chris Weld demonstrated a (perhaps slightly alarming) early interest in the finer points of distilling. When he was in 8th grade, he tried to make his own still for a science project, only to be thwarted by mom when she realized it was a federal offense (A for effort, though). Thankfully, his chemical inclination led him to become not a boozehound but a biochemist, which he later complemented with a Master's in emergency medicine. He spent twenty years as a Physician Assistant in one of the San Francisco bay area's busiest emergency rooms before returning to his East Coast roots and a slower pace with his family, settling in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Maybe it was the nostalgia of returning to the northeast, or maybe it was the aroma of freshly picked apples from the neglected apple farm they'd purchased, but Chris' childhood affinity for spirits was reinvigorated. The farm also happened to host historic granite-based spring water (once deemed the finest in the world), and he was looking for an exit from the medical field—so Chris decided he'd start a distillery.

Initially intending to make apple brandy, Berkshire Mountain Distillers (BMD) soon grew (with the help of Chris' aptitude for developing product formulas) to include a wide range of award-winning spirits including Ice Glen vodka, Greylock gin, Ethereal gin, Ragged Mountain Rum, Berkshire Bourbon and New England Corn Whiskey. Though it's the Berkshires' first legal distillery since prohibition, Chris started out selling the spirits door-to-door from the back of his truck—like a true old-school moonshine pusher.

These days, his small-batch, local, artisanal spirits are widely available in 19 states, and BMD is seen as a forerunner in the craft distiller movement that's lauded by leading mixologists.