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ike a thunderous stampede of hoof steps drumming the ground, your heart can nearly burst from your chest when a new idea invades you. The bug can catch you and create a stirring that ignites ideas for change. Damian Garcia and his two brothers and sister, owners of Union Horse Distilling of Lenexa, Kansas, know a thing or two about ideas coming to fruition and taking them places they had never even imagined. Damian, who is the distillery’s Director of Sales, shares their story: “My brother worked at a microbrewery and he got the bug back then in college. About late 2008 he started talking about wanting to start something.” Soon after, they toured a craft distillery and the light bulbs went off. In early 2011 they secured a space and started setting up equipment. Union Horse Distilling is a treasure not only for its popular spirits, but also for its beautiful event space. The Garcia family has found success with producing four spirits and by entertaining the public. “Our mindset was just make the best whiskey we possibly could,” says Damian. But while they waited for their bourbon and rye whiskey to age, they experimented with creating a white whiskey and vodka to get profits coming into the business. Their Long Shot White Whiskey is made up of a sour mash recipe, and their Rider Vodka is slow filtered and made from 100% wheat. Union Horse uses local grains—whole kernel corn, wheat, and rye—and makes all their spirits in the grain to glass tradition. They use new Missouri American Oak barrels to age in small batches. For six to seven hours per day, they are mashing, cooking, and blending up their spirits, and even use a second shift to keep production going at a constant rate. Damian says their Vendome Still—Chester Copperpot, lovingly named after the explorer from The Goonies—is their workhorse and is even viewable from part of the event space as you tour the facility. In early 2010, Patrick Garcia, head distiller, started coming up with recipes for their bourbon and rye. “We saw that there wasn’t a lot of rye (whiskey) out there. It was a hard recipe to make, but we’ve got it down now,” shares Patrick. Damian continues, “When we came up with the rye whiskey, we wanted to make something that was unique and different. So we came up with our whiskey being 100% rye. It was a devil to make.” Now they are on their tenth batch of bourbon and eighth batch of rye whiskey. “Whiskey is hard. There are so many different variables—from the condition of your grain coming in, to the water WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

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Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.