While home for Christmas, I had the opportunity to visit my friend Jamie over in Tamworth. A lot has been brewing in this northern village, things that have put this small town (deservedly) back on the map. It started with the Lyceum, but has slowly grown, the roots of change stretching farther down the road. Unlike a lot of what has gone on up north, this change is actually a beautiful one. Instead of knocking down gorgeous but crumbling historic buildings and replacing them with a cheesy "post and beam-" style atrocity, the folks involved have worked to preserve the character and beauty that make this town what it is. Most of the text below was originally published here as part of my full-time work. I've included some additional images, and if you're looking for a pretty amazing cocktail, I recommend clicking through to the original post...
Something exciting is happening in the small New Hampshire village of Tamworth. I've spoken before of my affinity for Art in the Age spirits -- it's a Philly institution, after all -- but over the past few years, AITA has grown a solid following in this Northern outpost, thanks to the opening of the Tamworth Lyceum, a coffee shop, mercantile, and performance space all rolled into one. Since it opened, the Lyceum has been an essential stop for me whenever I find myself travelling home, to pick up a gift, grab a coffee, and chat with the good friends that make this place what it is. I can always count on running into a friend or two (on this day I was finally able to meet my Instagram pal, Chris) and be inspired in some way, shape or form.
In a world that feels increasingly filled with cookie cutter replicas, it's refreshing to find spirits that have struck out on their own. Those who aren't afraid to follow passions, to experiment, to try something new. Even more so when those passions collide to bring something truly special to the surrounding community and beyond. Over the past couple of years, the Lyceum has begun to grow, both in popularity and size and it has become evident that a master plan is slowly but steadily coming to fruition. After preserving a section of the long-empty-but-historic Tamworth Inn, in the winter of 2014 Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile -- a farm-to-bottle test distillery in the White Mountains of New Hampshire -- was born.
I've been following news of the Distillery closely, and on my most recent trip home for the holidays, I had the opportunity to see the operation up close. Driving along the familiar back roads of New Hampshire, snow flurried against my windshield as I made my way to that lovely, historic village. Rounding the bend, the Lyceum sneaks into view first, its small lot filled with local and not-so-local license plates. A little further down the road, another cluster of buildings grabs your attention. Perfectly preserved, gorgeously built, this is where the Distillery, barrel house, and botanical kitchen call home, and -- eventually -- where an inn and restaurant will welcome visitors from near and far.
Edge past the tractor. Navigate a snowbank. I'm greeted at the door by my long-time friend Jamie Oakes, who ushers me inside and into the warmth created by the stills. A tell-tale, spicy aroma wafts through the air. The kind of scent familiar to those who grew up around apple orchards and New England fall festivals: fermenting apple cider. After a tour of the stills, which are busy making applejack (a historic libation crafted from cider), we head back into the crisp, early winter air and head down to the barrel house, a renovated barn that houses -- you guessed it -- barrels of what will eventually be pure, perfect New Hampshire whiskey.