Saveur Special Issue - The Saveur 100
# 3 Best Thing to do with fruit in Connecticut
We love the crystal-clear, intoxicatingly aromatic eaux-de-vie of France and vicinity - but eaux-de-vie from the Nutmeg State? Well, yes. Westford Hill Distillers in the Connecticut town of Ashford makes clean, gloriously intense clear fruit brandies - from raspberries, cherries, and William pears - that capture the very essence of the fruit. And they come in some of the most beautiful bottles we've ever seen.
"Connecticut distiller makes 'water of life'"
by Jeanine Loughlin (The Chronicle)
ASHFORD - Tucked in the bucolic setting of Connecticut's northeast hills, Margaret Chatey , founder and owner of Westford Hill Distillers, produces Eau-de-vie by hand.
Eau-de-vie, which translates from the French language to mean "water of life," is a clear brandy that can be distilled from many types of fruit. The best known are Kirsch, with is made from cherries, and Pear William.
- May 4, 2001
"Distillers lift spirits to new levels:
Microbrewed brandies, whiskeys intrigue the American palate"
By Jerry Shriver
SAN FRANCISCO - In a gleaming room inside the venerable Anchor Brewing Co., owner Fritz Maytag oversees two squat copper-pot stills that slowly pour out small batches of rye whiskey similar to the kind made in George Washington's day. Maytag sells all he can make - $90 a bottle.
Across the bay in a cluttered Alameda warehouse, Jeorg Rupf and Lance Winters of St. George Spirits distill the juices of pears, raspberries and other fruits into brandies that critics say rival the world's finest. They also make a one-of-a-kind whiskey.
New York Times
"In Connecticut, 'Waters of Life' Flow Mightily"
By Richard W. Langer
Hitchhiking the back roads of Switzerland one day in 1962, I came across a
valley where where bottles grew on trees. The orchard fruits sparkled in the
brilliant mountain sunlight as I paused by the roadside in puzzlement.
"That's the way we get the pear inside," the orchardist tending the crop explained. "Once
the flower has been pollinated, we push the young fruit into the bottle, where
"America's Artisan Spirits"
by Stuart Maclean Ramsay
Their small copper pot stills are capturing the true essence of fruits to
make eaux-de-vie (waters of life)-aromatic, glass-aged young brandies that
cleanse the palate as an after-dinner digestive. Pressed pomace, grape skins,
and seeds left behind after the fermentation of grapes are distilled into fresh,
fruity, grappas, imprinted with varietal and regional identity. Crisp, textured
vodkas and naturally aromatic gins are revitalizing classic cocktails. Exotic
whole fruit-infused vodkas are energizing bartenders, adding richness and intensity
to moribund mixed drinks. Distillers are crafting world-class, Cognac-style
brandies using superior grape varieties and innovative, small-production whiskeys.
The Rosengarten Report
"The Products I'm Loving Right Now"
Westford Hill Hand-Distilled Eaux-De-Vie
I'm a big fan of Alsatian eaux-de-vie -those remarkable, clear-as-water, eastern French distillations that taste so vividly of specific fruits. Oh, grappa's great, sure . . . but downing grape-based grappa is not as exciting, to me, as imbibing a fiery spirit after dinner that tastes exactly like pears, or cherries, with no cloying sweetness at all. One of the reasons the Alsatian versions of these fruit brandies are so exciting is that, in addition to the devastatingly accurate fruit flavors in the best ones, there can be a funky, earthy . . .
Willington Ashford Mansfield Horizons
This is Eau-de-vie
By Linda Yau, with Margaret Chatey
It is called "Water of Life."
Atop one of the highest hills between Ashford and Long Island Sound, sits Westford Hill Distillers, as inconspicuously as any neighborhood farm. It is very much a part of the rolling Ashford landscape.
Since the mid 90's Margaret and Louis Chatey have been producing a product that has been called by such terms as "sophisticated", "intense" and "complicated". In fact, eau-de-vie has many characteristics and uses.
"Make it better with BRANDY"
by Niraj Chokshi
Wine is the alcohol of choice to accompany fine food - at least in America. In parts of Europe, though, brandy is more prevalent.
In the past few decades a handful of brandy distilleries have been popping up in America and now speckle the West Coast and the Northeast giving brandy a new, American image.
Personal Business Open Bar
"An Entrepreneurial Spirit. America's small distilleries are crafting sophisticated eaux de vie."
By Elin McCoy
Margaret Chatey sells ripe fruit from neighboring farms at her own 200-acre spread in Ashford, Connecticut, but you won't find her hawking it in bushel baskets. Chatey, a former advertising industry executive, distills 50 tons of cherries, berries and pears every year-most locally grown-into the clear, fragrant European-style brandies known as eaux de vie.
The Artisan Table
"Water of Life: Fruit Eaux-de-Vie"
Chef/Owner Restaurant du Village, Chester, CT
On a bright winter morning, after winding my way down a small country lane, I arrived at the Ashford, Connecticut farm home to Westford Hill Distillers, artisan producer of eaux-de-vie, pure fruit brandies. Margaret Chatey welcomed me into the cozy kitchen of her circa 1700 home, complete with a blazing hearth. We walked across the garden to the large red barn housing the distillery. Designed by Louis Chatey, the barn was built to house their operation. It is a traditional post and beam structure in keeping with their landscape of this rural region. Presently, Westford Hill does not farm, though plans are in progress for the planting of an orchard. The proceeds of the distillery allow the Chatey family to preserve their 200-acre family farmland as open space. Additionally their purchases of domestic fruits and berries help sustain and support several other family farms. The local Lyman Orchards grow the majority of apples and pears; the cherries and plums are from New York State; and the raspberries and strawberries come from the Pacific Northwest.
"Local distillery toasted for its self-sufficiency
Westford Hill focus of documentary"
By David Hinchey
ASHFORD - With rising energy and fuel costs, one filmmaker has focused on an Ashford distillery to
showcase what he believes might be a shift back toward self-sufficient food production.
Andy Blood, director and photographer from Wolf Gang Pictures in Middletown, said he and his
crew wanted to capture what they think is the growing trend towards self-sufficiency.
"There's no reason to think gas prices won't keep rising," Blood said, adding if gas prices
reached $10 per gallon, it would be difficult to get food trucked in from California or shipped from
Peru or Mexico.