Did You Know (Smells Like Maypo)

copper still, aging barrels and bottled vodka from Ryan and Wood Distilleries

Photos by E.J. Lefavour

That on a day they are mashing, when you enter Ryan & Wood Distilleries, the place smells of Maypo?  You know, the hot breakfast cereal you ate when you were a kid.  It was the big vat of grains fermenting with yeast and distilled water that created the smell.  Bob took me on a fascinating tour of the distillery Wednesday; a photo of the still (a beautiful thing made in Germany that looks like a strange musical instrument/decompression chamber), the aging barrels and the finished product is above.  I’m not much of a drinker, and more apt to drink wine if I do; but I might have to break down and get a bottle of Folly Cove Rum or Beauport Vodka one day.  I have never cared for gin at all, don’t like the smell or taste of it; but the gin they make at R&W has such a lovely aroma, I might even be willing to try that. 

It was really interesting talking to Bob Ryan.  He is a Gloucester man, who grew up in a tough section of town, worked the piers, as his father had done, started a bank, and now has a distillery.  When I asked him what prompted him to open a distillery, his answer was very profound.  After recounting stories of the factories that have closed down around Gloucester, LePage’s Glue, overnight, leaving many suddenly unemployed, he wanted to show people that they can do something new.  That is important for people to keep in mind, especially in a tough economy.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going (the man I trained with for the Boston marathon always said that), and it’s true.  As bad as things may seem, this is still the land of opportunity, and people who are willing to run with an idea and give it their best, have a much better chance of succeeding than those who prefer to wallow in the notion that things are so bad. 

If you have a chance to take a tour of Ryan & Wood Distilleries, do; you will really enjoy it.  If you are a drinker of rum, vodka or gin (whiskey is coming soon also – they are just awaiting labeling approval), try Ryan and Wood’s Beauport Vodka, Folly Cove Rum or Knockabout Gin.  It’s made in Gloucester with great care and passion for creating an exceptional product.  Also, their bottles, which are lovely, are imported from France, not China.


  • I would love to check this place out . Does anybody know if they give tours?


  • Hi Frank, Ryan & Wood Distilleries is located at 15 Great Republic Drive (Blackburn Circle), Gloucester, their email is info@ryanandwood.com and telephone is 978-281-2282. I’m sure if you call or email them, they can tell you when they will having a tour. Also, if you go to the FIND US page on their website: http://www.ryanandwood.com/site.html you can sign up to receive notice of upcoming events and new products. From the outside, it is a very unassuming office looking place, but on the inside — well you saw the photos.


  • Well, thank you E.J.! Very nice of you to post this DYK on Ryan & Wood Distilleries. And Good job on hitting the drive points of why and what we are doing. By the way, I’ve known many good “Gloucester Men” in my lifetime. Certainly the “Finest Kind”. It is odd to read that phrase, however meant, regarding me.
    Yes, Frank, and all of you GMG readers, we really do enjoy people coming through and touring our plant. Last year we got a lot, a lot of visitors, but not too many were locals. Besides the physical aspect of being here, we do try to install, in a fun way, a bit of education on how and why “The Spirit of Cape Ann” is produced.
    Bob Ryan


  • Bob, I meant it in the kindest most admirable way. First, you were born and raised in Gloucester, and you are a man; but more importantly, you spent your years on the piers, and came up through life exhibiting that inspired, courageous spirit that I think exemplifies a Gloucester Man. The finest kind indeed!


  • Patricia Doherty

    After reading about the Ryan and Wood Distilleries, I just wanted to say that I purchased the Knockabout Gin and it has a wonderful taste- great to sip without adding anything to spoil the taste.
    Also, I believe in supporting local businesses.


  • When I come back to visit in September think I will come by – good job


  • EJ – thanks for the pics and behind-the-scenes info…I love all of their products, can’t wait to try the new rye whiskey…and I’ll have to do a tour soon.

    Bob – keep up the great work!



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