Scott Galbiati and his wife, Jessica Jewell, founders of The Northern Maine Distilling Company and creators of Twenty 2 Vodka, confirmed Friday that they have decided to move the business to Penobscot County.
“It is purely a business decision,” Galbiati said. “I can’t elaborate more than that, unfortunately, but it is nothing more than that. It was a difficult decision and we hate to do it. We see just on Facebook how much loyalty and love our customers have for us in Aroostook County, so its hard to leave.”
Galbiati said that he could not go into much detail yet about the relocation, saying only that the business was moving to space owned by Houlton native Chad Walton in the former Lemforder building. Walton is president and CEO of SnapSpace Solutions Inc., which opened its doors inside the 126,000-square-foot former Lemforder plant in February 2011 and converts shipping containers into buildings.
Galbiati and Jewell are currently packing up the distillery headquarters for the grain-based vodka, which is in a warehouse near Houlton International Airport.
Jewell grew up in Monticello and met Galbiati when they were students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.
Their product started winning accolades immediately after it was launched. The vodka won a bronze medal in December 2009 at the World Spirits Competition in Geneva, Switzerland, and a gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2010. It earned Gold for Quality at the 2011 MicroLiquor Awards and Platinum for Vodka in the 2011 SIP awards. Last year, the vodka earned Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition
Houlton Town Manager Gene Conlogue said Friday afternoon that he hadn’t had any direct contact with the company owners about their leaving town, and only heard secondhand reasons for why they were leaving. He said that the town would miss having the company in the community.
“We are sad to see them go,” he said Friday. “They were an asset to the community. It is hard to see any business go.”
In Brewer, the community’s economic development director, D’arcy Main-Boyington, said, “I’ve heard a lot of buzz about them over the last few years, and know that they have won some great awards for their vodka. We are happy to welcome them to the City of Brewer.”
A copyright article from the Bangor Daily News by Jen Lynds