MIDDLE RIVER — Loveton Farms Distillery, “Maryland’s first nano-distillery,” which produces small-batch, handmade spirits, has officially opened its doors and held its first tasting experience for visitors on Sept. 9 in a space created by the distillery’s director of communications Klarke McKissick to feel like an “outside oasis.”
Named in honor of Loveton Farms in Sparks, Maryland, which once belonged to the family of the owner, McKissick’s husband John Franzone, the distillery distributes spirits through 67 state stores and is marketed as community driven and developed. For example, it has made spirits that are infused with fruits that come from local community partners.
“In Baltimore County and in Maryland, your love is thick, and you love Maryland-made products,” McKissick said. “You are the proudest, happiest people I have ever met, and you want to partner to support your neighborhoods and your people.”
McKissick, a self-proclaimed alcohol enthusiast has worked for other beverage brands as a promotional model, including for Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, but she wanted to start her own enterprise, because she felt like there was “no truth” in distilling.
“There are a lot of products put together with artificial flavor,” she said. “No one distills from their own distillery anymore.”
Having her own company gives McKissick creative freedom to change the industry, she said, so that people are not drinking cheap-tasting vodka.
“You deserve the best, and we are going to give that to you,” she said. “We will change the industry, with you, the community, holding our hand.”
Loveton Farms’ spirits have recently won three bronze medals from the American Craft Spirits Awards, a competition for craft distilleries.
“We have some of the smoothest rum you have ever tasted because of the processes we use,” she said.
Loveton Farms makes its alcohol with distillation equipment built by distillery manager Raymond Fioravante, who has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Fioravante had wanted to start a distillery business out of school but did not have the financial resources. Now, he has found a way to pursue what he sees as his calling, which, he said, is extremely fulfilling for him.
“It is the most satisfying thing in the world,” he said. “One of the worst things that I hear from former students and other engineers is that they can’t find a job or hate what they do, which is soul-crushing.”
Fioravante said that found the opportunity through “serendipity,” when he completed contract work for distillery owner Franzone at another of his companies.
“He mentioned that he wanted to start a distillery, and I said I know a guy – it’s me. And the rest was history,” Fioravante said.
Fioravante made all of the equipment, including the stills and steam jacketed kettles.
“It may not be the prettiest, but it is state of the art,” he said.
He also oversees the production of all of the alcoholic drinks, including the fermentation and distillation.
“It is like cooking,” he said. “You can derive specific and unique flavor profiles from the same starting ingredients.”
Loveton Farms had planned to open in 2020, and then COVID-19 hit. It started making and distributing hand sanitizer instead of alcohol to assist with shortages, and to help strengthen the company’s reputation for when it could begin making alcohol again. McKissick said that once the shortage eased, the community urged them to open their doors to sell alcohol.
“Everyone said, ‘OK, thanks for the sanitizer, but where are the cocktails?’” she said. “For us to be able to open for an event, it means growth for the company, and we look forward to growing larger.”
Loveton Farms Distillery is located at 11620 Crossroads Circle Suite H, Middle River, MD 21220, and is open from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays.