Edible Food Finds: Beaver Pond Distillery


Photo by Michael Piazza

Charming Petersham, Massachusetts, is home to Beaver Pond Distillery, situated on a picturesque pond a few miles outside of town. In contrast to the remote location and rustic exterior, the barn’s interior is a pristine laboratory with a 12-foot copper machine straight out of a Jules Verne novel. It’s the alcohol still that Jerry Friedman uses to make an elegant spirit called eau de vie.

Eau de vie is an 80-proof essence of fruit, dry as a bone with a head-clearing bouquet. There’s apple, apricot, pear and plum—also known as slivovitz, a traditional Eastern European spirit. Jerry developed a fondness for eaux de vie while backpacking through the French Pyrenees as a student. He was ultimately moved to start making his own spirits after a successful career in the occasionally dispiriting world of immigration law.

Jerry sources his fruits from local orchards and has been known to drive some distance to select the perfect peaches or pears. He mashes the fruit and extracts the pits. The fruit is then fermented and distilled. Because alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, a still works by heating the watery mash and boiling it to the point where the alcohol evaporates and is captured in a separate tank.

The result is a smooth sip, perfect on its own or mixed into a cocktail. Look for Beaver Pond Distillery eaux de vie in select liquor stores in and around Petersham and a few Boston-area locations.