One of the most unusual and interesting projects that YFI Custom Homes has worked on recently was the renovation and conversion of an old barn at York Corner in Maine into the Wiggly Bridge Distillery. The craft distillery began in a small storefront in York Beach as the father-son combination of David Woods and his son David became self-taught distillers. Both were aficionados of fine whiskey and both wanted to make a product so it seemed a natural to try their hand at creating a distillery. That small bourbon distillery has now turned into a serious business making six different liquors with a comfortable tasting room serving elegant and sophisticated cocktails. We had the honor of spending some time there recently with photographer Rob Karosis, capturing the essence of the structure, breathing the heady aromas of sour mash and molasses and taking a behind the scenes peek at a working distillery.
In a recent interview in The York Weekly, Mr. Woods acknowledged that “…it is the most complex and challenging project of my life with the greatest amount of personal satisfaction. I’m creating something from nothing with the help of my family. But I will say that at this point in my life, it’s a formidable challenge.”
The building at York Corner was built in 1887 and served the community most recently as a hardware store. Mr. Woods said that it probably would have been cheaper to tear the barn down and start over but he admired the integrity of the structure and wanted to protect the original barn. Extensive work was required before the facility could open including replacing a dirt foundation, new wiring and windows. The horse stalls have been replaced with a tasting bar and the barn’s former root cellar is filled with white oak barrels filled with ageing spirits.
YFI’s Glenn Farrell says of the renovation that “we have worked on many projects with the Woods Family going back to projects with Dave’s father and mother Ralph and Betty. It is great working with him because Dave has a great deal of imagination and his son is a chip off the old block. Dave Jr. taught himself to weld and made the stills after research and time on Google. Dave and I really wanted to bring the old barn back for its new purpose. You just can’t get the feel we were looking for by doing a new building. We pulled and tugged and winched parts back into position and left what we couldn’t change which gives it unique character.
The Woods attribute the success of their distillery with its award-winning products to their distilling process which begins with their handmade copper stills. It took a great deal of time, effort and research on the part of the Woods family to realize the success they have seen so far. They are producing approximately 510 proof gallons per month in the York Corner location and hope to add a small, fine dining restaurant in the future.