The Distillery elm brook farm

Where to Buy | elm brook farm spirits

What began as a quest to make a best in class agriculture product sourced from pure resources grown here on our farm, has resulted in the creation two fine spirits – Rail Dog Barrel Aged Maple Spirit and Literary Dog Premium Sipping Vodka.

Rail Dog and Literary Dog are available at the following locations:

  • our distillery on our farm in East Fairfield, Vermont. Please contact us at to arrange a visit;
  • the Country Store at Smugglers' Notch Resort, open daily;
  • the Summer Burlington Farmers' Market located at City Hall Park 8:30am - 2:00pm every Saturday from May 12 to October 27, 2018. Our booth is located by the fountain in the center of the park; and
  • the Stowe Farmers' Market located on Rte. 108, Mountain Road about 2 miles from the intersection of Rte. 100 and Rte.108, next to the Red Barn Shops and across from The Stoweflake Resort from 10:30am - 3:00pm every Sunday from May 20 to October 14, 2018.

In an effort to reduce landfill waste and to provide better value to our loyal customers, we silk screen our bottles and use crystal stoppers that are dishwasher safe. Wash and re-use our bottles to make your own syrups, dressings, and infusions!

Elm Brook Farm Spirits

Literary Dog
& Rail Dog

We make our spirits in small batches. Enter you information and specify you prefered pick up time. We'll email you a confirmation and get your personal order ready for you. Please bring a valid ID showing that you're at least 21 years of age. Additional fees include 6% Vermont sales tax and 15¢ bottle deposit. We accept cash, check, and credit card payments.
~Thank you~

Elm Brook Farm
250 Elm Brook Road
East Fairfield, VT 05448


Rail Dog | barrel aged maple spirit

Rail Dog is an outstanding Specialty Spirit created naturally from a truly Vermont source... maple. The result of our unique process is an exceptionally smooth liquor that tantalizes the senses before it nestles on your pallet in the cozy world between cognac and whisky. With Rail Dog you can enjoy the complex flavors of vanilla and almond without even a hint of the harshness associated with other aged spirits. The aging process smooths the spirit and draws out the flavors and aromas of sweet maple.

Aged in American Oak

Our Maple Spirit is aged in American Oak barrels from Minnesota where the winters are long and cold so the tree rings are tight and protect the alcohol from air or moisture while it slowly steeps in the oak flavors from the charred and toasted barrels.

  • Rail Dog Neat
    Rail Dog Neat

    Neat is an undiluted shot of liquor served at room temperature as apposed to straight up, which is usually used to describe a drink that's chilled with ice (shaken or stirred) and strained into a glass. Rail Dog Neat will warm you from the inside out.

    P.S. Also try Rail Dog Staight Up; it will warm you from the outside in ~ both are exceptional!

    Snow Dog

    1 oz Rail Dog
    2 oz Literary Dog
    1 oz Light Cream or Half & Half
    1Tbsp Dirty Dog Maple Syrup
    Shake until frothy in a cocktail shaker and pour over ice in a whiskey glass.
    Better than a White Russion or Baileys Irish Cream - it's dessert in a glass!

  • Rail Dog Tri Tip

    makes enough for a 2.75 - 3 lb. Tri Tip
    1/3 cup Rail Dog
    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
    1 tbl. lemon juice
    1 tbl. brown sugar
    2 tbl. fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sweet marjoram, savory & parsley (finely chopped)
    Fresh cracked pepper
    2.75 - 3 lb. Tri-Tip Roast
    Parsley or other greens for garnish

    Whisk Rail Dog, olive oil, soy sauce and lemon juice together until well blended. Add all other marinade ingredients and blend well. Bathe Tri-Tip roast in marinade in a large zip lock bag overnight. Turn every couple of hours to distribute marinade.

    When ready to cook, let meat stand at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes to shorten cook time. Drain the marinade. Grill over indirect, medium-high heat about 15 minutes per side, watching it closely with the meat thermometer after the first 15 minutes. We recommend using the Big Green Egg "kamado" grill at 400 degrees, but any BBQ can work.

    If using an oven, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and set your tri-tip fat side up. Cook 20 minutes or less until meat registers 125 degrees in the thick part of the roast and 150 degrees around the edges. This will give you medium rare in the middle of the roast. Turn over and cook until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees for a medium roast (additional 5 - 10 minutes).

    When done to your liking, let roast rest for a few minutes on your carving board before slicing so that it will retain its juices. Garnish plate with parsley or other beautiful greens.

    Recommended Sauce: Mix a tbs. horseradish, 1/2 cup sour cream and 1 tbs. Rail Dog ~ a tasty condiment for this delicious roast! And don't forget the glass of Rail Dog Neat.

  • Read about us in the Seven Days!

    Read about us in the Boston Globe Magazine!

    Read what others say about us:

    I had several sips of the Rail Dog last night. Wow is it good! I would say it is as good as the best cognac I have had. A wonderful flavor and gentle warmth, smooth as silk. You have a real winner. – John from Chicago
    I was at the Burlington Vermont, Farmers Market recently and had an eye opening, mouth watering, taste bud awakening experience. I tasted “Rail Dog” an adult sipping beverage made from pure maple syrup. It’s 100 proof and is not at all sweet. This amber spirit is “doggone” good and silky smooth that has a lingering hint of maple with notes of vanilla and nutmeg. I would classify it similar to a cognac or top shelf bourbon but better. Take yourself on an adventure and try “Rail Dog”. It will wag anyone’s tail and put a smile on your face. – Ricardo from Virginia

Literary Dog | premium sipping vodka

LD Vodka begins on our farm each year in late winter. Maple sap is pooled from thousands of trees literally drop by drop. By mid-summer this pool is transformed into a crystal clear rivulet of fine vodka no wider than a blade of grass. This slow delicate process produces an artisan vodka that is truly smooth while maintaining the subtle characteristics of toffee and cream with a hint of sweet maple.

Why Sipping Vodka

Before the era of mass production, artisanal/regional vodkas were purposefully created with subtle flavor profiles. Each vodka had its own unique and understated backdrop of flavors, which together with the purity of the distillation created an exceptional spirit. Prohibition and mass production put an end to most artisanal spirits replacing them with vodka being produced in large factories where flavors are stripped from the alcohol by the use of absorption and adsorption filtering. These mass-produced vodkas lack unique flavors and as such they are generally mixed with fruit juices or soda pop.

Literary Dog Vodka is not about mass-production. LD Vodka is small batch artisanal vodka that is distilled from fermented maple sugar on our Vermont farm to create an ultra smooth spirit while maintaining its pleasant and subtle background. This is why we believe it is best when sipped by itself (straight up or neat) or with a bit of water, vermouth or lemon peel.

  • LD Martini
    LD Martini

    2 oz LD Vodka
    3 drops of Dry Vermouth
    Put into a glass with 1-2 ice cubes. Stir! Strain into a cocktail glass, letting no ice cubes fall. Serve with a twist of a lemon peel.

    The All-American

    1 oz melted, ultra-premium vanilla ice cream
    1 oz very high quality, fresh press apple cider
    1 oz Literary Dog Vodka
    Shake and serve in a martini class, with or without a cube of ice.
    A perfect Autumn cocktail!
    ~Compliments of Dr. Marc

  • LD Shrimp Cocktail

    Chili Sauce
    makes 12 two-tablespoon servings,
    or 1 1/2 cups sauce

    1 cup tomato sauce
    1/3 cup raw honey
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    2 teaspoons dehydrated onion
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/8 cup LD Vodka

    Whisk all of the ingredients except LD Vodka in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. Remove from heat and immediately stir in LD Vodka. Cool to room temperature; cover and chill.

    Serve with 12 giant prawns and a shot of LD Vodka.

  • FiftyBest

    We were thrilled to learn in June 2014 that Literary Dog was awarded a Gold Medal in The FiftyBest Domestic Vodka competition; one of the largest tasting of American-Made Vodkas, ever!

    Edible Green Mountains

    Looking for Gluten Free Spirits? Read this article in Edible Green Mountains and learn how our spirits made from only pure maple are naturally gluten free!

    You can also read about us in a round up on Ski Town Vodkas!

    SKI Mag

Spirit Rivulet

Our Process | forest to flask

The creation of Rail Dog Barrel Aged Maple Spirit and Literary Dog Premium Sipping Vodka follows six succinct steps shown on the tabs below:

  • The Pipeline

    The beginning step is the slow collection of maple sugar from the forests of Elm Brook Farm. Once a year during the mid winter months thousands of maple trees are tapped and connected to a network of pipelines that are used to transport and pool the maple sugar, which starts to run in late winter and early spring. Literally the sugar is collected drop by drop from each tree and travels via a network of small pipes to one central location on the farm. From there the pooled maple sugar solution is concentrated by two physical chemistry processes, reverse osmosis and simple boiling. Some of the maple sugar is concentrated to a level where it is economical and practical to begin fermentation. The rest of the maple sugar is concentrated further and stored for later fermentations.

  • Fermentation Vessels

    Fermentation takes place in a sanitary and temperature controlled environment where a selection of yeasts are used to convert the maple sugar into a maple wine. The yeasts we use on Elm Brook Farm were selected to create a flavor profile that enhances the flavor of our vodka and eau de vie. The fermentation process takes place over a 2-3 week period. When the fermentation is complete it is is similar in flavor to a very dry aged wine.

  • Distillery

    By mid summer, the distillation process is in full swing with distillation taking place in two succinct steps. The first step is our stripping run where the maple wine is initially distilled in a hand-made copper alembic pot still. It is crucial to use copper at this point as the copper metal of the alembic still captures chemical compounds that can adversely affect the taste of the final product. From this initial distillation the unfinished spirit is sent to a fractionating reflux distillation column designed and built here on Elm Brook Farm to specifically distill maple based spirits. This tall column is made from copper and stainless steel. We designed the column to carry out multiple distillations and to slowly separate the flavors that we want to retain from those we discard. If Literary Dog is being made the flavors are a subtle blend of toffee and cream with a hint of sweet maple. If we are making Rail Dog, the flavors and aromas of sweet maple, almond and vanilla are apparent. What began as drops of maple in late winter ends as a tiny rivulet of delightfully fragrant spirit by summer.

  • Blending

    Blending also known as rectifying is a critical step in the creation of Literary Dog Premium Sipping Vodka and Rail Dog Barrel Aged Maple Spirit. Elm Brook Farm is fortunate to be blessed with fresh abundant spring water that begins as rain, travels by mountain stream to cracks in the rock where it is purified by underground bedrock and minerals to become pure water for blending our spirits. Both Literary Dog and Rail Dog are blended with Elm Brook Farm’s pure water to produce 80 Proof and 100 Proof spirits, respectively, that honestly cannot be duplicated. Without this source of pure fine mineral water it would be impossible to create these ultra fine spirits.

  • Aging

    Aging is a step in this process where patience is truly a virtue. Before Literary Dog Premium Sipping Vodka and Rail Dog Barrel Aged Maple Spirit are bottled they must first be aged. For LD Vodka the aging process is straightforward. We let our vodka rest for a month or two in storage to ensure the chemistry involved in smoothing the vodka is complete. Rail Dog takes a longer path. Our Maple Spirit is transferred to oak barrels where it will rest for several years until we deem it ready for consumption. It is for this reason that we took so long to offer Rail Dog.

    All good things come to those who wait.
    ― Abraham Lincoln
  • Bottling

    Bottling is the final step. Because so much care and time went into the creation of these products, we choose the best quality glass and maple wood stoppers to store and display our spirits. We hope you will be proud to choose Literary Dog and Rail Dog as we are proud to be making them. Our passion is in every bottle.

Long Copper Column

Distilling | what is local

What is an artisan distillery? Why is this question important? In 2011 there were approximately 150 new brands of vodka introduced in the United States alone (30 brands were launched in the UK.) Many of these new brands were manufactured at the same distillation factories using the identical ingredients. For these products differentiation becomes a function of unique bottles, labels, flavorings and marketing campaigns.

Many small brands do not distill themselves. Instead they rebottle ethanol purchased from large distilleries. Others purchase the alcohol and run it through a local still to give the appearance of distilling. Some are just rectifiers or better known as blenders. These brands take alcohol made elsewhere and mix it with local water to give the impression that it’s a locally made vodka.

So as a buyer of artisan distilled spirits how can you make sure you are truly buying a locally crafted spirit. Here’s a list of helpful tips and questions to make sure you’re buying the real deal:

  • Does the distillery use local ingredients for fermentation?
  • Where does the distillery ferment using these local ingredients?
  • Does the distillery have a copper alembic pot still?
  • If it’s making vodka does the distillery have a very tall fractionating - rectifying column?
  • Where do they age their brown spirits? There has to be a lot of oak barrels somewhere.

The artisan distilling movement is young and as such it can be confusing. At Elm Brook Farm, we make our Rail Dog Barrel Aged Maple Spirit and Literary Dog Premium Sipping Vodka here on our farm with ingredients from our farm. If we need more ingredients, our neighbors just down the road can provide us with more pure Vermont maple sugar.

“We operate in an honest, transparent and non-deceptive fashion. We inform customers truthfully and accurately about the sources and methods used to make our spirits through our labels, materials and communications. We expect fair dealing and respect amongst members. We obey all federal, state, and local laws."
― The American Craft Distillers Association Code of Ethics

Precise Measurement
Cooling Process
Vodka Perfected

Drink | responsibly

Literary Dog and Rail Dog are crafted to be world class distilled spirits. To understand how to best enjoy these fine products we have included simple cocktails, and food pairings. In truth, however, the best way to enjoy our spirits is to understand and practice one of the four cardinal virtues.

The cardinal virtue we have in mind is temperance – the ability to control oneself especially when one is facing the possibility of excess. To appreciate the subtleness, warmth and character of these fine spirits requires exercising the virtue temperance.

By the way the other three cardinal virtues are prudence, justice and fortitude. Practicing those virtues wouldn’t hurt us either.

David Howe

Master Distiller | David Howe

When David's not climbing mountains or waterskiing with friends, he's running the farm and producing distilled spirits for your enjoyment. David has a passion for everything he does. With a chemical engineer undergrad and an MBA from Cornell, he brings the right combination of skills to the business of producing fine artisan spirits.

Slalom water skiing on Dear Lake, MN
Riding Cranrock
Celebrating July 4th