A relatively new distillery to the craft spirit scene and a first-timer at Philly Farm & Food Fest, we had to fire some questions at Chad Butters, Co-founder and Craft Distiller at Eight Oaks Craft Distillers, to get the real story behind their Applejack, local ingredients, regular happenings at their New Tripoli tasting room, and more.
You’re a relatively new distillery. Have there been any celebratory breakthroughs or milestones for you and your crew early on in the game?
Yes. The way we see it, as a new distillery, there are breakthroughs just about every day. Everything we are doing we are doing for the first time so it is all very much discovery learning, which is a lot of fun. Our biggest milestones have been our Vodka winning a silver medal at the ADI competition for best grain-to-glass vodka and the recent release of our first aged spirit, our Penna Rye Whiskey which is a really nice, soft and smooth whiskey with hints of vanilla and smoke.
If four words could come to everyone’s mind when they hear the name “Eight Oaks”, what would you want them to be?
If you had to pick one, which spirit stands out among your lineup – either from the producer or consumer standpoint – and why?
Great question. It truly is like trying to pick your favorite child (which we all have but would never admit). 🙂 Each have their own unique history and personality. I would have to say that if I picked one it would have to be Applejack. Applejack just has a fantastic and rich history. It is the original American spirit. It also allows us to work with the wonderful family at Scholl Orchards, where we source our apple cider. The spirit is a big hit with our guests because it is unique and very versatile. AJ goes great on the rocks with a twist of lemon, in a stripped down old-fashioned or it can be a great addition to a strawberry lemonade and in the fall and winter it is awesome in apple cider or even hot chocolate.
How can people make a day of enjoying local food and drink and the beautiful countryside of the area? Are there any big events that happen at Eight Oaks annually or are you doing some regular monthly events?
We have a great place for people to come and hang out. There are no TVs or distractions. It’s meant to be a place to just come, shut off the cell phone, have a cocktail, look each other in the eye and have a conversation. A place to gather and connect. We do have a really nice yard out back that overlooks our fields where we grow all of our own grain. There are picnic tables and firepits and plenty of space to hang out..so you can bring the kids, the dog..whatever and just have a good time. We have happy hours every Friday from 5-8PM, live music every Saturday from 2-5PM and we do special events like a Spiked Hot Chocolate Bar, Smores and Cider and Bloody Sundays as well as our annual Bluegrass and Folk Festival in September. Facebook is the best way to keep up with what is going on at the distillery.
You make some amazing craft cocktails at your tasting room in New Tripoli, PA, rotating the menu seasonally. Can you name a few that were your absolute favorites?
The menu does rotate monthly and we keep it simple. We just have about 5 cocktails on the menu and everyone kind of gravitates to their favorite. The Log Cabin and The Haymaker come to mind as stand out favorites.
The Log Cabin is Applejack with Apple Cider and a homemade honey-rosemary simple syrup on the rocks. It is delicious.
The Haymaker is our American Vodka with pear nectar, homemade ginger-mint simple syrup and ginger ale on the rocks…refreshing, unique and really good.
Eight Oaks is “locally grown” and “farm fresh”. What does that mean for a distillery like yourself? Who do you work with locally and what are some farm fresh ingredients used?
To us it means that we grow our own grains right here at the distillery or at my farm a few miles away. We have a great farmer, Kevin Utt, who actually does the hard work of planting, tending and harvesting the crops. We select the grain varieties, work up crop rotations and plan crop sizes. We grow wheat, rye, corn and barley all of which is non-gmo and milled fresh on site the day we need it. We also source our apples from Scholl Orchards in Kempton which is just 6-7 miles from the distillery.
Catch Eight Oaks Craft Distillery at Philly Farm & Food Fest on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Tickets available now!