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ready to open a new warehouse a couple blocks away from the distillery. At 31,000 square feet, it will store the bottling operation and up to 10,000 barrels, a major jump from about 1,700 now. Some of the space, as they grown into the new building, will be rented out for brewery storage as an incubator. The Alberta native has taken Friel’s lessons and applied them not just to a corn-based whiskey, but also to rye and barley. They’ve also done a deconstruction series of single-grain versions of each of the four grains that go into the flagship bourbon. Corn comes from the Whiskey Sisters in eastern Colorado, while other grains come from Colorado Malting Company. Laws believes that his materials are more than a commodity, and he’s proud to be using local grain from people he can know personally. “We pay more for materials, but we want to know who is growing the grain, where it’s coming from,” he said. One of those grains, CMC’s heirloom rye, went into the Laws spirit that recently won World’s Best Rye at the World Whiskies Awards. “We’re interested in traditional sour-mash whiskies, and just update them with these nuances,” he said. Their original malt whiskey recipe included two-row base malt, Munich, Abbey, 60L caramel, chocolate, and rye malts, but has been different each time, providing a spirit that is ever-changing. He’s also taken those Kentucky bourbon lessons from Friel to heart and applied them to the barley. “We do on-grain fermentation, sour mash, we use backset with our malt whiskey. We get all these scorched-grain flavors that become nutty, hazelnut, peanut,” he said. He’s had CMC smoke some of their barley with his barrels and used the resulting malt for whiskey. They’re preparing to release a series of whiskies this fall that have been finished in barrels including rum, cabernet, Port, Cognac, Armagnac, and muscat. “Those things are cool, that’s what you want to do. We’re in 12 states, but we don’t want to lose that intellectual curiosity. It’s an obsessive kind of thing.” His love of whiskey is singular. Laws has steered clear of gin, vodka and liqueurs. “I don’t like any of that. It would be disingenuous for me to do that,” he said, though noting that they’ve put up projects including rum, brandy and agave spirit. “We made it because we could, and it was a cool thing to do, but it’s not our core.” With a team of about 20 people, he said every person is a key member. They don’t have a head distiller or a master distiller. If you’re the distiller on duty, then you’re the head distiller. If you’re an employee, whether in the distillery, marketing, sales, front-ofhouse, then Laws believes “you should be at the table.” “We need those people, we need all their talents. This isn’t done by one person. It takes a team, everyone’s head on a swivel,” he said. “We’re not about one individual. All rise, all fall. We’re not looking at models of how to do stuff. We’re more like steer into the wave and figure it out. You don’t learn stuff when things go right.”



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Laws Whiskey House is located in Denver, CO. For more information visit or call (720) 570-1420. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  


Artisan Spirit: Fall 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.