Vermont Distillers is one of a handful of micro or ''boutique'' distilleries that have opened recently around the nation, following the trend in beer production. In Portland, Ore., for example, Clear Creek Distillery manufactures a brandy made from locally grown pears, and St. George Spirits in Alameda, Calif., has produced several fruit brandies. Germain-Robin of Ukiah, Calif., produces a Cognac-style brandy.
These distillers have one thing in common: they produce small quantities of spirits that they say are of extremely high quality and command higher prices than most domestic brands. Vermont Distillers's Mad River Vodka and its Veranda Gin will sell for about $12 for a 750 milliliter bottle, more than twice the price of an inexpensive domestic brand and comparable to a top-of-the-line import.