Like craft beer, craft spirits show no signs of slowing. Split Rock Distilling at 16 Osprey Point Road in Newcastle is the latest company hoping to capitalize on Maine's thirst for locally-produced, locally-focused alcohol. The Lincoln County News announced last August that co-owners Topher Mallory and Matt Page were shooting for a June 2015 opening. Though there's been little activity on the Facebook page, the Twitter account has seen steady progress updates, and Mallory told Eater they're still on target.
"We've been flying under the radar, building out the space, and June or July seems very realistic for us," Mallory said. "The last component, our still, should be here in early May, then we'll have a couple weeks to test run and start producing vodka, gin, and rum in June." At the same time, bourbon will go into barrels to age; in the future, other whiskeys like single malts or smoked varieties could appear—perhaps even a Scotch-like whiskey produced with Maine peat.
Mallory said everyone in the industry has been supportive, including neighboring Oxbow Brewing Company. He emphasized that the company will focus on education in the tasting room as well as exploration of unusual ingredients and practices as a way of setting the brand apart from the bigger players. "We're excited to experiment. We've looked to places like Corsair [in Tennessee] and asked, 'How can we incorporate organic ingredients, Maine ingredients?' Just as importantly, 'How can we pass that on to the consumer looking for an experience rather than just a buzz?'"