Originally Featured in the ABV Network Whiskey Corner Blog on March 6, 2019
A Treasure So Close to Home
Anyone who has visited Colorado is aware of the craft beer scene. You can’t swing a dead cat and not hit a craft brewery. Whether on tap in local restaurants or local tap houses there seems to be a new beer popping up weekly. I’ve even been to places that feature homemade brews on their taps to help the up and comers get their feet on the ground.
So is it any surprise that the whiskey business in Denver is also making its mark? There are dozens of Distilleries throughout the state creating essentially their own whiskey way. With the use of the high altitude, local crops and the ever present spring waters,Colorado whiskey has a market all its own.
I recently had the opportunity to tour one such local distillery located slightly south of Downtown Denver. Now us Colorado Natives would call this location Antiques Row for the hundreds of Antique shops that dot the next block. With the legalization of marijuana years back; Broadway is now known as the Green Mile. Tucked around the corner in what seems to be a warehouse front you will findLaws Whiskey House.
You walk into a small but very hip gift shop where you check in for your tour. We were greeted by a young lady who took our group behind velvet curtains into a small room. A half dozen repurposed church pews fill the room for the day’s lesson, the lesson of making whiskey. We sat and followed along with the chalkboard reproduction of the distillation process.
We were given the history of Al Laws, the namesake and creator of Laws Whiskey. His vision and love of the craft and the spirits is what led us this far. Eldorado Springs water, Whiskey Girls Farm and other local farmers provide the grains for every product they barrel. Being born and raised in Colorado I was very proud of the fact they focus on using our local resources. So with our heads full of the whys, we were now going to witness firsthand the how’s.
Our first stop was the grain room where the hammer milltransformed Colorado grains into what would become the AD Laws mash bill. This being my first ever distillery tour I was taken by the aromas. The nose is my favorite part of the bourbon experience so to walk into this place set my senses into overdrive.
We were led to a riser area where the open-air fermentation process is hard at work. A huge pot/column still sits like a giant copper monster in the corner waiting to do its part in this carefully choreographed dance. Across the wall is painted the words: “There are no shortcuts”. It was easy to see there is a lot of pride that goes into their process at every level.
Our final stop was the tasting room. Surrounded by dozens of barrels stacked around us we were given tastes of Al’s dreamwork. Our guide took us through the tasting process. Similar to the Kentucky chew she walked us through sip by sip of two samples, one bourbon and one rye. She explains with humor that with the first sip you start to salivate. “You are salivating because you’ve just been poisoned.” Quick to recover, we finished up the tour with each of us buying a flight. I went with a Rye flight with a cask strength Secale Straight Rye sitting at 130 proof. “If you add water, you’ll just piss it off” so after a few minutes the oxidation kicked in and made it as smooth as a lower proof but still a kick in the pants.
We finished off our night walking a few blocks down the snowy road to Bear Creek Distillery. More of a bar front, we enjoyed the atmosphere of a large window with a beautiful Kothe still housed behind it. I had an Old Fashioned while my husband ordered a flight of Bear Creek Bourbons and Ryes. No tours on this day, so we enjoyed the drinks and company of friends while surrounded by locals playing board games and laughing.
What a great way to spend a Saturday night in Denver. Good friends and great bourbons. One could become very spoiled with such hideaways so close to home.
Now on to tour the next local craft and if my dreams come true it’ll be Kentucky or Bust