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MicroShiner Inspiring a World of Craft Spirits

Winter 2015

SPIRIT OF THE M O U N TA I N

WINTER 2015

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contents Letter From the Publisher Drinking Music Spirit Review—Crater Lake Pepper Vodka Places to Enjoy—The Rose, Jackson Hole, WY Crafting Cocktails—Adam Dickerson 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Co. - Vail, CO Loggerhead Deco - Chicago, IL Exploring Vermont’s Craft Spirit Pairings­—Caledonia Spirits Winter Gear Round Up Tahoe Moonshine - South Lake Tahoe Cocktails - High Altitude Apres

winter

2015

9 10 14 16 18 24 48 69 78 92 94 117

Photo by David Turner « MicroShiner.com | PAGE 5


Publisher Editor at Large Music Director Staff Contributor Webmaster Marketing & Events Social Media

Cobey Williamson David Schreib Jeffrey Mattson Brian Cary Kelsey Binder Ryan Murphy Chi Pham

Contributing Design

Madison Angus

Contributing Writers

Alex H. Dowley John Stephenson Karen Clayton Ian Gregory Drew de la Rosa Matthew Hedgpeth Rob Durkee Tim Wenger

Contributing Photographers

John Stephenson Andy Shelter Giselle Hellemn Janie Viehman David Turner Jeremy Jensen Alex H. Dowley Working Dog Enterprises, LLC 1406 Summerdale Rd Corvallis, MT 59828

Š2014 All rights reserved. The contents of this magazine cannot be duplicated without the prior written consent of the owner. The views contained within the contents of MicroShiner Magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of its owners or staff.

Photo by Jeremy Jensen ÂŤ MicroShiner.com | PAGE 7


Letter from the Pub

PAGE 8 | MicroShiner.com Âť Photo by Janie Viehman


Letter from

the PUBLISHER In the tradition of the Salish band of native Americans, winter is the time for storytelling. The creation story of their tribe can only be told during the winter, and in days of yore the long northern night was spent gathered around the tepee fire, listening to elders relate tales that are the living history of the Salish people, a mythology that serves to connect the tribe to its future as much as its past.

It seems appropriate then that with this Winter issue we tell you of another story being told. While technically not a myth, it certainly contains elements synonymous with one: fabrication, allegory, and nectars of the divine. And like a myth, whether or not to accept it as true is entirely up to you. There is a lot of differing opinion on what makes a spirit craft. Some tout terms like “grain to glass”, where producers turn raw ingredients into drinkable spirit all under one roof. Others focus entirely on the palette, taking neutral grain spirits sourced from industrial scale manufacturers and transforming them into exquisitely formulated works of liquid art. Both have their merit. It’s when their story gets told that the trouble begins. A phrase currently buzzing around is “crafty, not craft,” as it takes little more than a tote full of sourced whiskey and some clever marketing to create a successful craft label. Much of the talk about craft spirits, and even a few lawsuits, seems to revolve around this very fact. Fingers are being pointed, most of them at the producers. People heard a good story and they bought it. But in some cases, the story wasn’t quite true. Now where there has been outright deception, we take a hard line. Bottles must be labeled according to the law, which requires that the location of actual distillation be disclosed. But we bristle at the notion that the onus lies only with producers. How many of the offended, we ask, ever bothered to confirm where their favorite craft whiskey was being made?

Craft culture is founded on two tenets: authenticity and responsibility. At the heart of this matter, that is what we are discussing, and both have been compromised. The craft spirit enthusiast expects that what they are buying is not just repurposed Beam in a fancy bottle, but ultimately they can hold only themselves accountable for ensuring that it’s true.

It is the consumer’s responsibility to determine what their definition of value is, and to seek out and support those producers, and only those, who share a similar set of values in their product. Some of these spirits taste great; perhaps that is what you value. Some are made with a concern for developing local capacity; some are made with a consideration for terroir. Each individual label has been created around a certain set of values, but it is up to the individual consumer to evaluate them based upon their own. My personal ideal incorporates elements of all these things, and I am fortunate that my local micro-distiller, Montgomery Distillery, shares my view. But if I go somewhere else, I don’t want Ryan’s gin; I want something local, and it is up to me to ask for it. Even then, I have to educate myself so I can be certain my choices align with my values. I can’t expect producers to do this for me, and neither can you. In this issue, you will find craft spirits that were made using NGS or sourced whiskey. TINCUP, for example, is a sourced whiskey, cut and bottled in Colorado. Jeff at Tahoe Moonshine uses a small amount of NGS in some of his products. Ron and Jeremy Elliot use neutral grain spirits as the basis for their award winning products at Smuggler’s Notch. Does this mean they’re not craft spirits? I don’t think so, but then again, I’m not you. And that opportunity for personal determination is the point, and the beauty, of enjoying craft spirits. Cobey Williamson Publisher


DRINKING MUSIC

By Jeffrey Mattson

Drinking Music Mississippi | Las Cruces | Los Angeles | Brooklyn Music and spirits are inextricably intertwined. Whether it’s the rat pack & martinis, the jazz age and bathtub gin, saloon whiskey and a player piano, or just pickin’ on the porch with a jar of shine, where you find one, you will likely find the other. So many analogies exist between the two that we felt, as a magazine about craft and spirits, inclined – nay almost obliged – to dedicate some space to music.

product, often for no greater purpose than sheer enjoyment. Just as it is in the spirits business, the music market is awash with corporate product. Artists are groomed and selected based on one thing: their ability to sell records. All of the coarseness and irregularity is eliminated, and much of the nuance and the intangible lost. To paraphrase Neil Young at the onset of the digital age, the real music lives between the 0 and 1.

Music is a craft. Doing it well depends on bringing a number of

In that regard, and in keeping with the theme of this pub-

elements together in just the right proportions, and like craft

lication, what we hope to offer you here is that space

spirits the resultant product is always greater than the sum

between the step and the curve that is so important, yet

of its parts. Differences in equipment, training, ingredients,

often goes overlooked. Here we hope to share some bands

recipes are reflected in subtle, and sometimes not so subtle,

and music that you might just find playing onstage in your

variations in character, flavor, tenor, and tone. Each begins

local tasting room or watering hole. Here, as with the micro-

with a handful of raw material that, through a practiced and

distilleries we focus on, you just might happen upon some-

perfected process, culminates in a refined and handcrafted

one you know, and together enjoy a little drinking music.

Bass Drum of Death Rip This

DIY garage rock from Oxford, Mississippi with classic punk resolve. John Barrett and late-comer Len Clark. It’s time to get down to brass tacks. Recalling

early

American

negligently electric. “If the

py and it’s searing through

punk like The Ramones and

taste makes you ill, don’t

an old boombox. Crank up

The Misfits but with a little

mind me or my pills”. Junky

the punch and drive a little

more temper. Denim jackets,

patterned couch, the stale

faster. If you’re feeling that

raunchy

cigarettes,

smell of boot sweat and wet

spanning itch of some tem-

cheap beer and a self evident

ski gear, muted static on the

pered

ethos. It’s vigilantly hasty,

tv, I’m feeling crunch hap-

your mother superior baby.

guitar,

PAGE 10 | MicroShiner.com

punk,

then

they’re


Winter 2015

The Low Culture

Screens

Dirty 4-piece from Las Cruces, New Mexico and signed to Dirtnap Records. Chris, Sam, Cade and Joe. They play instruments. “I’m tired of waiting, so I’m

a riot. Beyond this, my lar -

not

rock,

ynx couldn’t help but sting,

garage. This is what you’d

but I was sweaty, exhausted,

waiting”.

Punk

expect, glorious drum fills,

and reclaimed. Maniacal and

exasperated

yet

furious

vicious, persistent and racing

guitars.

Straight

forward,

rhythm section, no superflu-

stripped

down,

filled

with

ous riffing. To quote the song

resentment, filled with sen-

“California”,

timent. These zealous dudes

getting f***ed up in Califor -

ain’t here for you. Paint’s

nia drinking whiskey on the

still

1989

beach”, you heard em, grab

Toyota, a couple bucks in my

some whiskey and quit watch-

pocket, haven’t showered in

ing tv, it’s time to ramp your

days, but we’re gonna cause

heart with some distortion.

peeling

on

the

“tonight

I’m

Big Ups

Eighteen Hours of Static Brooklyn, New York. Joe Galarraga, Amar Lal, Carlos Salguero Jr. and Brendan Finn. Part punk, part post-hardcore, whatever. They’re

a

melodic

lulls,

good

equally

rabidly

and

fraction

city, the sun’s gone down,

they’re

and we’re all faceless, point-

energized,

less,

they’ve

had

enough,

they sound exhausted man.

breaking rank and flaunt-

Shrill anthems. Existential

ing feedback and distortion.

crises abound. Punk sans

The personal psychosis one

the politically charged emo-

undergoes

tions,

and

from

modern

punk

watching

Black

drawing

Friday unfold as you grapple

disillusion-

for a reason why. “I think it’s

ment. “I think what I’m try-

fine, it doesn’t really bother

ing to say is, I don’t wanna

me” they quip sarcastical-

live a life like this”. Scents of

ly. Quick and to the point

Fugazi and Saetia. A glazed

with

unthinkable

rapture.

Photos by Micke Keysendal


DRINKING MUSIC

The Far West

Any Day Now

Los Angeles based. Lee Briante, Robert Black, Aaron Bakker, Brian Bachman and Michael Whiteside. Where are we going? Traveling partners for the exquisitely rash. Alt-folk rock americana. With hints of Dylan, Cash,

whiskey in our hands and the

and The Band we’re riding

subtle drawl in our hearts.

that exploratory spirit. Modern takes on all. Gospel organ. “Everyone’s chasing a ghost…..everyone’s the next James Dean”. I’m in Oklahoma during the prohibition and I’ve stumbled upon some sweet dark drink after months of sobriety and wandering introspective thoughts. Desperate tumbleweeds nip at my city slicker boots. I’m a poor man’s angst. These guys are the best parts of an adventurous America. Smoke filled bar, good friends, player piano, we ain’t got a worry but for the

Rose’s Pawn Shop Gravity Well

Straight outta the wild wild west, good old Los Angeles, southern California. Paul Givant, Tim Weed, John Kraus, Stephen Andrews and Christian Hogan. Apparently named after the

jos and a rhythm section that

see your face in these dead end

lead

ex-girlfriend

draws the distinctly folk blue

streets”. Indeed indeed. Hand

who stole all the band’s gear

grass instrumentation in the

me the moonshine darling,

and sold it at varying and as-

alt-rock direction. “Every day I

tonight we dance as ghosts.

singer’s

sorted pawn shops. It is with that sentimentality in mind, should we embrace the density of this band. Parts folk, parts blue grass, parts altrock. Upbeat, vivacious, filled with fervor. One must ardently dance with so lush a trouble on your soul. The themes have us clutching our hearts, the music has us dancing in the night. It’s the perfect reciprocation following redemption. Acoustic guitar plucks, rambling fiddles, babbling ban-


Winter 2015

For those who prefer not having some guys in a boardroom determine how their skis should fit.

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SPIRIT REVIEW

Words by Ian Gregory / Photos by Giselle Hellemn

Winter Warmer: Crater Lake Pepper Vodka - Bendistillery, OR Located along the periphery of the Willamette National Forest, Bend, Oregon is home to Bendistillery and its slew of award-winning Crater Lake brand Spirits. Drawing inspiration from the natural volcanic activity of the nearby Cascade mountain range, the craft distillery filters their vodka repeatedly through crushed lava rock, producing a smooth spirit with a decidedly clean finish. A more exotic offering from

in on a crisp, Cascade morn-

the stills at Bend is their bold

ing, only to rouse yourself for

Handcrafted American Pepper

another day on the slopes by

Vodka, an 80 proof formula-

knocking back a Bloody or

tion that infuses their origi-

two containing a healthy pour

nal recipe with the heat and

of Crater Lake’s spicy spirit.

flavor of no less than five different strains of potent pep-

Outside of the tasty, tomato

per. The result of this process

juice libation and left to stand

sees the pure, mountain-wa-

on

ter qualities of Crater Lake’s

pepper-packed vodka tends

standard overtaken by the

to bring more heat than most

aggressive addition of spice,

people can handle, even if you

creating a taste profile which

should find yourself within

is more reminiscent of the

the snowy confines of the

liquid magma found flowing

Pacific Northwest. Served neat

beneath

or chilled, the straight liquor

Willamette

Valley.

its

own,

however,

this

offers an interesting experiBilled as the “perfect spirit”

ence for the nose. While there

for a Bloody Mary, Bendis-

is definitely the distinct aroma

tillery’s fiery infusion does

of a high quality grain distil-

work well amidst the other

lation, the more pronounced

bold ingredients of the classic

impression is the warmth of

brunch cocktail. Regardless

pepper, which engulfs the si-

of the complexity of the reci-

nuses like the spicy wisps

pe, the heat and finish of the

of steam wafting up from a

Pepper Vodka is never lost in

jalapeño-laced

the shuffle, holding its own no

unmistakable scent is just a

matter what inventive accou-

prelude to the real heat lin-

trement may be added to the

gering within the sienna hued

glass. This tenacious quality

vodka. At first sip, the spirit

has surely played a signifi-

is smooth in texture but jar-

cant part in Bend’s product

ring in taste. Though there

becoming the favored founda-

is a hint of garden freshness

tion of local mixologists craft-

in the background, the brief

ing their own unique concoc-

bright notes are soon out-

tions for the ski town clientele

matched by a heavy spice,

of Mt. Bachelor. It is certainly

not unlike the sensation one

not hard to imagine sleeping

would achieve by biting into

PAGE 14 | MicroShiner.com

pizza.

This


Winter 2015

a raw pepper. On the finish,

Pepper

the silkiness of the liquor

enough punch to stand its

Vodka

does

pack

leads to a rapid coating of the

ground when incorporated

mouth and throat in a way

into the increasingly elabo-

that gives new meaning to the

rate mixes of today’s Bloody

term “firewater”. The linger-

Mary. The natural infusion

ing flavor is not quick to leave

of spice into the lava rock-

the tongue, so even a slow-

filtered liquor also eliminates

sipping pace would only suit

the need to add hot sauce,

those who enjoy a particularly

which can sometimes taint a

spicy palate. The truly adven-

cocktail with oil and preser-

turous may even dare to at-

vatives. Though its fiery flavor

tempt a shooter, but the only

is certainly not for everyone,

reward for an act so bold is

don’t be surprised to see this

an instant case of heartburn.

Bendistillery spirit catching on as the go-to for Bloodys

Despite

its

nearly

over-

being poured well beyond

whelming heat, Crater Lake’s

the slopes of Mt. Bachelor.

One of a kind Barrels.

You personalize the rest.

Perfect for your brands, promotions, packaged products and more www.1000oaksbarrel.com 703.885.1483


PLACES TO ENJOY

By John Stephenson

Cathouse Cocktails: The Rose, Jackson, WY The earthy aroma and distinct warming of refined whiskey, served in seductive high-back red leather booths under the bawdy glow of crystal chandeliers... a setting reminiscent of when the likes of Jim Bridger, Jedediah Smith, and David Jackson walked the snow-strewn streets. And yet, a bordello-inspired

success of this sexy saloon is

gin mill seems well suited to

an emphasis on mixed drinks

this traditional cowboy town,

prepared from fresh ingredi-

where the biggest landmarks

ents and quality craft spirits.

are named for breasts - “Les

The staff of skilled mixologists

Trois Tetons”.

exhibit exacting standards in their execution, and continue

The Rose is the first and only

to seduce and amaze even the

classically

cock-

regular customers with inno-

tail lounge in Jackson Hole.

vative punches and specialty

Opened just three years ago,

cocktails.

in

inspired

collaboration

York’s

renowned

with

New &

After a day in the powder,

Company, their loyal clien-

Death

nothing warms the body and

tele includes both locals and

arouses the soul like a whis-

returning visitors. Key to the

key-inspired

PAGE 16 | MicroShiner.com

libation,

and


Winter 2015

in this mountain town the

stairs and sharing a lobby

wizards at the Rose are the

with the hip and happen-

indisputable masters. Along-

ing Pink Garter Theater, The

side such popular cocktails

Rose is a snowballs’ throw

as the Spy Hunter (Conne-

from the famed antler-arched

mara Irish whiskey, Yellow

town square of Jackson. And

Chartreuse, lime, mint, Berg

whether it’s enjoying a cock-

& Hauck’s celery bitters) and

tail prior to catching the hot-

the Shady Business (Ritten-

test band at the Pink Garter,

house 100 rye, Fernet-Bran-

or a nightcap after a long day

ca, maple, lemon, mint), new

on the mountain, The Rose is

mixes are concocted daily.

a provocatively pleasant de-

The Sour Puss, Hell’s Half-

parture from the more tour-

Acre and the William Munny,

isty taverns in this world-

recently represented the Rose

class ski town.

at

Whiskey-

time you visit “The Hole” slide

the

Wyoming

sponsored

2014

So the next

Bartender

into one of its warm booths,

Shootout State Championship

pick your poison, then set

in Laramie.

back and prepare to smell, sip and savor an expertly crafted

Tucked away up a set of

cathouse cocktail.


CRAFTING COCKTAILS Spirits Ambassador Adam Dickerson shares a new take on winter cocktails


Winter 2015

CRAFTING

COCKTAILS When

it

comes

to

Adam Dickerson

winter,

traditional thinking in regards

Spirits Ambassador New Holland Artisan Spirits New Holland, Michigan

to cocktails goes something like this. They have to be: Sweet. Need a candy cane garnish. Are a Pumpkin Spiced Latte-Tini. Need to be served

Lilly C.K. 2 1/2 oz Knickerbocker Gin 1/2 oz Clockwork Orange 3/4 oz Lillet 5 Dashes of Orange Bitters

warm. Egg Nog is the only option. Right? Stir all ingredients with ice in a mixing Wrong.

glass, strain into a martini glass. Zest a

Recently west

Adam

Spirits

Dickerson,

Ambassador

at

Shake all ingredients with ice and dou-

lemon peel over the glass, rim the glass

Mid-

ble strain into a highball glass with

with the peel and use as garnish.

New

ice. Top with club soda and garnish with

Holland Artisan Spirits, dispelled some

rosemary sprig and cinnamon stick.

of the myths associated with winter

Recently, I have found myself quite enthused with the intricacies of a dry mar-

libations while sharing a number of

You don’t need a pumpkin pie in a glass

tini. I am constantly tweaking ratios un-

cold weather cocktails that serve well to

to call it an autumn drink. This cocktail

til I find the perfect recipe for my palette

remind us the only thing you really need

incorporates some seasonal spices that

or the palette of my guests. I have made

to create a great winter cocktail are good

we associate with fall and winter while

it my personal mission to prove to my

spirits and a little imagination.

remaining refreshingly tart. The rye and

friends that they actually do enjoy gin

lemon juice shine while the maple syrup,

and a proper martini, they just needed to

apple bitters and ginger liqueur provide a

discover it first. This recipe is a twist on

warming balance. At New Holland, we are

what some would consider a dry martini.

unapologetic in saying that we confidently

Opting for Lillet in the place of Dry Ver-

drink gin, year round. That same principle

mouth provides nice citrus notes and the

2 oz New Holland Walleye Rye

applies here. If you enjoy a tall, refreshing,

splash of New Holland’s Clockwork Or-

1/2 oz Grade A Maple Syrup

effervescent cocktail during warm months,

ange Liqueur further fortifies that pres-

1/2 oz Lemon Juice

you should feel just as confident drink-

ence. The balance of citrus, spices and

1/4 oz Domaine de Canton

ing that in front of a warm fire with snow

herbs in Knickerbocker Gin are perfect

Pinch of nutmeg

falling outside your windows. With the

for this drink.

Rosemary leaves

right balance and a delicate use of sea-

All spice

sonal spice, your winter cocktail just got

All together, I think this drink can be a

2 cloves

surprisingly refreshing.

nice starting point on one’s journey to-

~

Pinchfist

4 dashes Bar Keep Apple Bitters

ward the enjoyment of the dry martini.

MicroShiner.com | PAGE 19


CRAFTING COCKTAILS

The Ice Cap 2 oz New Holland Cask & Smoke 1 oz Ruby Port 1 Large Cold Brew Coffee Iced Cube Stir Whiskey and Port in ice and strain into a chilled rocks glass with Coffee Ice Cube Simplicity is underrated. Some of the most delicious cocktails in the world involve two or three ingredients, and that is what I tried to capture here.  When making this drink, I envisioned it being served after a meal, with a warm, chocolaty dessert but by no means does it need to be limited to that.  Cask & Smoke is a peated whiskey and it finds such a nice balance with the sweetness of Port.  When poured over a coffee ice cube, the drink only improves with time, adding a velvety mouth-feel and a peppy boost of caffeine to counter what would have been one intense food coma. 


Winter 2015

CRAFTING

COCKTAILS

Adam Dickerson

MicroShiner.com | PAGE 21


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The perfect powder ski.

Handmade Skis & Snowboards | Jackson, Wyoming | www.igneousskis.com


The Story of the 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Company

Words by Matthew Hedgpeth

Photography by Janie Viehman

I-70

is

whiteout.

Dozens of cars inch along through unpacked winter, leads

slush.

this to

At

times

serpentine

renowned

during

road

Rocky

that

Moun-

tain powder is near snowbound; it is the price one must be prepared to pay should he wish to partake in some of the country’s finest skiing. Yet it is a Saturday evening in midNovember

and

Vail,

the

resort

named after the engineer of the road that became the interstate, is still another week away from opening.


PAGE 28 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


Off the highway, blanketed in snow and

tainside, one bettered by the flow of spirits.

illuminated

moun-

As is the case with many of history’s great

tain town-cum-ski resort of Vail Village

ventures, the seed of the 10th Mountain

is more or less asleep. A few groups of

distillery was planted late one fateful

young men, decked out in the particular

night. In a way spirits begat spirits as,

style of serious riders and skiers, trudge

cocktails in hand, Avignon and Thompson

along the whitened cobblestones. The

sat down looking for the answer to one

soft, muffled sound of clothed laugh-

question: what does Vail need? Recalling

ter drifts from the mouths of couples

the circumstance, Avignon said, “We felt

wrapped in vests and caps as they head

[The Vail Valley] seemed stagnant in terms

toward the bars. More than mere signs

of its business demographic. Not to take

of life, these are microcosmic reminders

away from anybody, it just hasn’t really

that winter is approaching in the valley.

evolved” [in the same way that Denver,

by

lamplight,

the

with its distinct neighborhoods and wealth Tasting

of new businesses, for example, has]. “And

Room, which officially opened in Septem-

we don’t have that quantity of people here,

ber 2014, is poised to be a vital part of this

but we certainly have interesting people

setting. Nestled in the southeast corner of

from all over the world, so why can’t we do

the village, across the street from local

that? We thought, well, we love all these

outfitters Gorsuch Ltd., the space is small

spirits…maybe there’s a market for some-

and spare of unnecessary decoration. It is

thing really defined in the spirits world.”

The

10th

Mountain

Whiskey

the picture of the modern outdoorsman’s watering hole: wood flooring and shelving

Avignon and Thompson then conducted

buffed to a worn sheen, oak barrel tables

some preliminary research and attended

and stools, the obligatory Colorado flag.

Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky to learn more about the indus-

It is only right, then, that the owners,

try and make connections with some of

Christian Avignon and Ryan Thompson,

the powerhouse figures in the whiskey

both look like they belong here. They are

trade. This was the missing piece to the

self-assured, yet comfortably dressed––

puzzle of how to take their entrepre-

laid-back. Even though neither of them

neurial will (Avignon owns and runs a

are “natives” (Thompson is from Texas,

masonry business; Thompson is a res-

Avignon from upstate New York), they’ve

taurateur) to the next level and produce

known each other since the late 90’s

original liquor recipes for the people of Vail.

when they met, fittingly, on the slopes. Whether coaxed by the warmth of the

Finally, when time came to pick a name

tasting room or by the fact that it be-

for their company, Avignon and Thomp-

longs to them, their happiness is patent.

son were sure they wanted it to be some-

In their smiles and postures they wear

how related to the mountain culture that

the confidence of men in their element.

had brought them to Vail in the first place. They settled on a meaningful trib-

After speaking with them, it is clear that

ute, one that anyone who has ever felt a

the notion of feeling at home has had a

tug of affection for the winter lifestyle can

profound impact on their interests. The

appreciate––whether he knows it or not.

way they talk about their company––as of

~

a child with promise––is borne on the back

Twenty miles away from the Village lay

of a palpable philosophy, their sober vision

the remains of Camp Hale. It was here

of an almost utopian lifestyle on the moun-

that the inaugural soldiers of what would

PAGE 30 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


PAGE 34 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

become

Division,

on dissolving the German divisions that

the first specialized American military

the

10th

Mountain

were holding the fertile terrain of the

unit of its kind, went to commence long-

Po River Valley, gateway to the Alps.

term winter combat training in 1942. Said Avignon, “I actually returned in In The Last Ridge, McKay Jenkins de-

’91 with my grandparents and my dad.

scribes the long progression of events

We toured that area of central Italy and

that gave rise to America’s mountain

stayed in a lot of the hill town villages

troops and the designation of Camp Hale

that [the 10th] liberated. We were there

as their training base. Initially a sort of

for about four to five weeks. It was a

pet project promoted by Charles “Min-

real eye-opener as a teenager to be ex-

nie” Dole, the man who helped organize

posed to veterans like that first-hand.

the National Ski Patrol System, it took

My

some convincing to get the War Depart-

that whole time––all those guys [were].”

grandfather

was

very

emotional

ment to approve the new unit. Ultimately Dole got what he wanted and the National

If the veterans embraced a somber mood

Ski Patrol was the first civilian agency put

in order to reflect on their brothers-in-

in charge of recruiting American soldiers.

arms who never made it home, the trip was also a cause for celebration. Avignon

Over the ensuing months and years,

continued, “I think what that trip really

Camp Hale, positioned as it was in some

taught me...these guys were just hard-

of America’s most beautiful and forbid-

nosed, hard working…[but they also]

ding landscape, became a hotbed for com-

loved to drink. I mean, they drank more

bat-conscious technical mountaineering

grappa and wine on that trip to Italy than

and logistical preparation. The soldiers

I’ve ever seen. They would get their hikes

in the 10th were tasked with figuring out

in, they would get their work done, and

the best means of survival in low tempera-

then they would have some cocktails.

ture, high altitude environments; this re-

That’s how they lived,” said Avignon.

quired testing state-of-the-art equipment. Of their own accord, these men dutifully

It is perhaps this well-balanced work

explored the vast Coloradan wilderness

ethic and, in the words of Jenkins, “their

and meanwhile formed the crucial bonds

sense of a shared identity beyond that of

that help make bearable the trials of war.

soldiers” that set apart the original men of the 10th. And yet, by the time the Division

Thanks to Dole’s aggressive cherry pick-

had finally been deployed at the tail end

ing of talent from New England ski schools

of 1944, the war was in its last phase. Not

and colleges, a number of the growing Di-

surprisingly, the Allied success through-

vision’s ranks came from the Northeast.

out the rest of the European Theater over-

Fred Vetter, Avignon’s grandfather, was

shadowed the mountain troops’ relatively

familiar with some of the men who had

minor achievements (only in the scope of

joined up from the nearby Glens Falls area

the war––their tactical maneuvers on Riva

in upstate New York where he was raised.

Ridge in the Apennines were theretofore

Vetter enlisted as a medic and was part of

unprecedented, which is in part why the

the front line offensive that culminated in

mountain troops were so immediately

a series of key battles near the Apennines

successful in completing their objectives).

Mountains (southeast of Florence, Italy)

Plans for the 10th to initiate a full-scale

during the winter and spring of 1945.

invasion of mainland Japan were aban-

Italy’s ultimate fall to the Allies impinged

doned after the horrific revelation of


PAGE 38 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


atomic warfare in Hiroshima and Nagasa-

One of those veterans is former platoon

ki effectively put an end to war in the Pa-

sergeant, Sergeant First Class (retired)

cific. Thus, with the war coming to a close

Steven Lycopolus, who needed an ap-

and no battles left to fight, the men of the

propriate rocks glass for a toast he had

10th had to look forward to peacetime en-

to make for the 10-year reunion of his

deavors, and to building a better future.

platoon from the 2/87 Infantry Battalion. The 2/87, a dispatch of the 10th,

To more than a few this meant put-

comprises a group of men who deployed

ting their training to further use. Some

to Afghanistan in support of Operation

founded businesses with an emphasis

Enduring Freedom in August of 2003

on outdoor lifestyle---Nike and NOLS are

and returned in June of 2004. The group

two of them---while others, like Freidl

“eventually

Pfeifer, raised funds to introduce large-

ing First’ – a nickname that stuck and

scale recreational skiing to the American

endures to this day,” said Lycopolus.

became

known

as

‘Fight-

public. This, perhaps, is the true legacy of the 10th Mountain Division. In to-

Though he can only speak for this small

tal, 62 North American ski resorts were

band of brothers, Lycopolus is “honored

either founded, managed, or had their

that [Avignon and Thompson] used the

ski schools directed by members of the

division name.” He continued, “Veter-

10th. So, while the Division was able to

ans can be very protective of their former

secure its piece of militaristic notori-

units and lineage. We have a connection

ety at the end of the Second World War,

with them that is hard to describe to the

more lastingly, the men who comprised

uninitiated. Finding out that [Avignon’s]

its ranks would influence the shape of

grandfather was a member of the 10th

every North American winter to come.

Mountain Division in WWII dispelled any

~

concerns about crass commercialism –

While it is clear that the 10th Moun-

he and [Thompson] have done it right.”

tain Division deserves recognition, the fact that it is still an active military unit

The pair has therefore enjoyed multiple

(the Division was deactivated at the end

opportunities to do their part in honor-

of WWII, reformed for training purposes

ing the dedicated servicemen of the 10th

from 1948-1958, and then formally re-

Mountain Division, foisting bottles and

organized in 1985) thankfully never gave

gear, along with their appreciation, on the

Avignon or Thompson much pause. Rath-

handful of veterans that have reached out

er, the few living WWII veterans from the

to them. So while the mountain troops

10th that Avignon and Thompson have

have provided Avignon and Thompson

been able to contact directly––or tangen-

with a name upon which they will be

tially, through their products-––have wel-

building a brand, it is ultimately a two-

comed the namesake tribute. The pair

way street. Thompson also noted that

has also received positive support from

some portion of their revenue would be

the Division’s current soldiers and vet-

used to support active duty troops and

erans. Many of these active or recently

veterans: in-kind donations to the 10th

decommissioned soldiers discovered the

Foundation, Vail Veterans Program, and

distillery by accident, stumbling upon the

Wounded Warrior Project are ongoing.

Kickstarter campaign that provided the

Currently the 10th Mountain Whiskey &

last big push in realizing the duo’s dream.

Spirit Company’s lineup consists of their

PAGE 40 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

^ ABOVE Christian Avignon & Ryan Thompson stand beside their Vendome copper still at the 10th Mountain production facility in Gypsum, CO


flagship Bourbon ($57.99), Rye Whis-

philosophy: Mountain Strong. Similar to

key ($44.99), Moonshine ($24.99), Vod-

the Rye, the side of the bottle also in-

ka ($33.99), and the Alpenglow Cordial

cludes a toast, 10th Mountain Bourbon

($39.99). Avignon and Thompson are also

embodies the same characteristics of the

invested in expanding the flavor profiles

10th Mountain soldiers: confident yet

of these spirits by creating barrel-aged

humble, adventurous yet grounded, bold

cocktails. Their first foray into this grow-

yet modest. To the soldiers and all that

ing practice is the Seibert Sipper (after

enjoy the mountain lifestyle, we salute!

Pete Seibert, Vail Resort’s founder and

another veteran from the 10th Mountain

As of this writing, Avignon and Thomp-

Division). The cocktail pairs the bour-

son have introduced their product to 10

bon with sweet vermouth and Aperol,

liquor stores and over 20 restaurants

an Italian aperitif, resulting in a light

throughout the state. They are also mov-

and

ing forward with the construction of a

dangerously

smooth

concoction.

second, larger tasting area at the proThe pair agrees that clever branding like

duction facility in Gypsum, which was

this is meant, in large part, to capture the

meant to open concurrently with the

essence of mountain culture, the everlast-

Tasting Room until they decided the ex-

ing ethos of the 10th. Committed as they

posure at Vail Village was more impor-

are to the Division, Avignon and Thomp-

tant. Hopefully the snowfall will be gen-

son have coined appropriate slogans for

erous and make for a busy ski season,

their different spirits. The Rye, for which

so they will have plenty of thirsty moun-

a close friend wrote a special toast, is a

taineers with whom they can share liba-

“Whiskey Worth Fighting For.” Both it

tions and regal with stories of their own.

and the Vodka bottle feature the silhouette of Riva Ridge, a battle that, accord-

How better to end a satisfying day on

ing to Jenkins, “like the mountain troops

the slopes––a stiff drink and good con-

themselves, accrued a mythical status.”

versation

does

the

mind

and

body

good. After all, a drink from the 10th As for the Bourbon, it is decorated with a

Mountain Whiskey and Spirits Com-

Ranger ribbon and boldly declares a de-

pany is more than a simple nightcap.

scriptor which Avignon and Thompson consider an expression of their overall

PAGE 42 | MicroShiner.com

It is a drink to glory.


Winter 2015


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Thinking Outside t h e B ott l e The Green World of Loggerhead Deco

Words by rob durkee

Photography by David turner

Tucked away within a quiet industrial

pany, Gilbertson realized something that

park in suburban Illinois, a silent giant

spoke to him above all of the other buzz

of elegance and design flourishes: enter

surrounding the world-class spirits he

the bottle decorating wonderland of Log-

worked with: decorating the bottles they

gerhead Deco.

The company headquar-

came in was not a sustainable practice.

ters, adorned with countless awards and

He set out several years ago to correct

examples of its artistic prowess, houses

this, and has since experienced a rapid

both its production warehouse and its

rise to the top of the industry.

business operations. At the helm resides

asked to break down the mythos behind

Steve Gilbertson, a man who carries him-

his company, he sits back and exhales.

When

self with a distinct air of friendliness, and sports a goatee that defines a man who

“It’s a long answer,” he replies succinctly.

knows exactly where his vision is heading. The vision of Loggerhead is to provide proHe is surprisingly calm and collected,

ducers of craft beverages with a distinct

despite working seven days a week to

visual edge that will allow their products

prepare for the looming holiday season,

to compete with major brands on store

and the lines at the corners of his eyes

shelves.

betray how frequently he smiles.

refining an organic, sustainable approach

welcome sight.

It’s a

As the former CEO and

salesman of Kammann Machine Com-

PAGE 48 | MicroShiner.com

Beyond that, it is to continue

to decorating glass bottles.

Founded

in 2010 with a single printing press,


Loggerhead

world-class

very similar to top brands; the edge Log-

designs for customers in all fifty states,

manufactures

gerhead has here, however, is that it will

as well as eleven countries, and has

produce specialty bottles at much lower

since expanded to ten presses.

The fo-

quantities than the bigger brands, mak-

cus is primarily on craft spirits, but its

ing it a more attractive option in terms

product base includes several wines, ol-

of pricing.

ive oils, and vinegars, among various

are sent out, which may yield changes to

other bottled goods.

Proofs of the final artwork

It is a counterpart

bottle design, and a final, physical proof

to a booming “craft culture”; more and

is then delivered for customers to begin

more, people lean towards independent

planning with.

craft beverages, and Loggerhead’s bot-

of necessary materials, and securing gov-

tles and designs are a masterful depic-

ernment approval, this stage of the pro-

tion of craft all their own. It starts with

cess can take anywhere from a month

the company’s approach to its process.

to several years.

Including the gathering

When all the pieces

are finally in place, production begins. The process begins with a phone call, email, or the time-honored tradition of

Loggerhead is very transparent with ev-

word-of-mouth.

Most of Loggerhead’s

erything it does. Its aim is to be as “green”

customers have some idea of what they

as possible in all facets of production,

want, but they simply don’t know what is

from digital correspondence, to the cur-

possible to get them there. Design ideas

ing of inks with UV light, right down to

start with the spirit itself; whiskey typical-

the electric forklift used in the warehouse.

ly comes in a bottle with different proper-

The fundamental idea behind printing di-

ties than vodka, and bourbon bottles won’t

rectly to glass is that it does away with

look much like rum. From there, further

paper labels that contain harmful carcin-

thought is put into what the bottle shape

ogens in their adhesives.

will be, resulting in a design’s parameters.

are lead-, cadmium-, and VOC (Volatile

The last step is to determine how it will

Organic Compound)-free, as well. Logger-

be packaged, and Loggerhead comes pre-

head found its footing in product testing

pared with a “one-stop shop” approach

with leading brands such as Coca-Cola,

that includes package design.

Modelo, and Bacardi, which went a long

When

All inks used

asked how these decisions are made, and

way in solidifying its effectiveness.

what sets Loggerhead apart from a tradi-

large budgets and angles of quality con-

tional decorator, Gilbertson nails his point

trol available were essential in establish-

of view to the wall: “It’s largely personal

ing a standard that would undeniably

preference, but it comes down to image. If

succeed in the younger craft market.

The

a customer sees a premium bottle on the shelf, it’s pretty safe to assume that what-

Glass bottles are first spray coated, de-

ever is inside will taste premium. We’re

signs are then printed on, and the inks

here to make sure that you don’t take

cured with UV lights. Utilizing his expe-

polka dots and put them on a Jaguar.”

rience gained at Kammann, Gilbertson has acquired key pieces of machinery

When a design has come to fruition, it

that not only reduce the amount of space

heads to art direction.

Loggerhead has

needed to accomplish the process, but

its own internal design firm that fully de-

also the company’s overall carbon foot-

velops ideas and fits them within the real

print. Ten printing presses, affectionate-

estate available on bottles.

Effects can

ly named after grandmothers within the

be added to give bottles a look and feel

business, bear the brunt of the workload.

PAGE 52 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


PAGE 54 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


A slumbering behemoth known as the

er in scale, sometimes to a point where

Kammann K15 CNC resides in the back of

Gilbertson is able to visit a customer for

Loggerhead’s warehouse; this $1.5 million

dinner or drinks at a local bar. As such,

machine is the “mother brain” of the op-

the emphasis is on clearly communicat-

eration, with six available colors and the

ing what is possible for any design, and

ability to print onto 4,500 bottles per hour.

maintaining that communication every

One of two byproducts generated by these

step of the way. To take the rapport even

machines is heat, which is cycled through

further, Loggerhead advises customers on

a chiller before being released outside at

government regulations, educating them

an environmentally conscious 70 degrees

about warnings while tastefully incorpo-

Fahrenheit. The other is ozone, which is

rating them into designs. When an idea

technically doing the planet a favor on a

is complete and comes to rest on store

daily basis. When printing and curing is

shelves, the destination of a consumer’s

complete, bottles are ready to be pack-

well-spent dime is evident in the artistry.

aged into custom-designed cartons and shipped to wherever they will be filled.

Gilbertson is working to strike a perfect balance between regional, national and

Gilbertson takes great pride in Logger-

international clients, all supported by

head’s process, not only from the produc-

the bedrock of possibility. “As the busi-

tion side of things, but from a storytell-

ness grows, it grows with the industry.

ing standpoint, as well. A critical aspect

We’re always adding capacities, adding

of craft spirits is the story behind each,

capabilities, and showing people what’s

and Loggerhead places this idea at the

possible with their product,” Gilbert-

forefront of everything it does. Gilbertson

son states.

grabs a bottle from a nearby display, and

presence and frequent website traffic,

reads. “Akvavit. Originally from northern

Loggerhead

Scandinavia, it’s all about the journey the

craft

barrels take.”

tomers

A humble origin, but it’s

With a strong social media is

scene, and

making and

waves

in

encourages

consumers

alike

the cus-

to

ex-

what he says next that rests at the heart

plore options and ask questions re-

of craft culture. “So, what makes craft so

lated

to

their

vision

and

process.

interesting? Well, this is the story. People sit around with this bottle, they read it,

Going forward, Gilbertson pushes the

and they talk about it. They read about

business to lead and innovate. He is very

ships carrying barrels across the equator.

aware that there are not many options

They talk about the journey, the captain.

available when looking to do what Logger-

They talk about the story.” Between the

head does, and he aims to set the bar ever

spirits within and the gorgeous designs

higher with each design. Keeping the com-

without, Loggerhead is paving the way for

pany’s operations sized right and allowing

craft companies, while making a point to

customers to buy smaller quantities has

help display what consumers are paying

been crucial in generating interest, as has

for when they purchase craft products.

a surge in consumption of craft beverages around the country. This has resulted in

As a family-oriented endeavor, managed

drastically reduced manufacturing and li-

by Gilbertson and wife Cindi, Loggerhead

quor license costs, which have prompted

takes the utmost pride in its personal flair

independent breweries and distilleries to

when working with customers and their

pop up in droves. They all seek bottles and

ideas.

Although it boasts a broad and

designs to capture their essence, and the

diverse roster, projects are usually small-

light leading their way is Loggerhead Deco.

PAGE 58 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


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Winter 2015


PAGE 64 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

In 2015, Gilbertson intends to shift his focus to other markets, and has plans to expand design capabilities. He points to the wall behind him, at a “planogram”, or a visual merchandise organizer for Florida Wal-Marts. It prominently displays a customer’s bottle, nestled on a shelf between industry leaders Cîroc and Grey Goose. “Our logo and mission statement are on the back of that bottle.

Someone’s

going to pick it up, and they’re going to read it and find out what’s possible,” he says, filling in his smile lines. Loggerhead Deco can be found online at www.loggerheaddeco.com, on Facebook at Loggerhead Deco, Inc., and on Twitter at @loggerheaddeco


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Freedom & Unity: Exploring Vermont’s Craft Spirit Words and photographs by Alex H. Dowley

Vermont is full of crafts, and crafty peo-

In Vermont, a state that is shyly self-

ple. They are a source of pride and com-

righteous about its quality craft tradition,

munity, or vice versa. Either way, people

you’d expect this debate to be fiercely

in Vermont learn to make their own way,

contentious. Although passions are deep

and produce some world-class crafts in

and varied, the conversation is, in fact, re-

the process; Cabot Cheese, Citizen Cider,

freshingly polite.

Copeland Furniture, Simon Pierce glassware, Alchemist Brewery, and Darn Tough Vermont socks are just a few examples of

The plethora of organizations propping up

the state’s diverse craft manufacturers.

around the country in an attempt to stan-

There’s no surprise, then, that the craft

dardize craft jargon and practices only

spirit movement is alive and well in the

muddle the conversation. The American

Green Mountains, and growing. The num-

Craft Spirits Association limits it’s vot-

ber of licensed distillers in the state has

ing members to those producing less than

increased 500 percent in the last decade,

750,000 proof-barrels per year, while the

with similar growth-rates nationally. But

Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. re-

in this burgeoning market, with new dis-

quires fewer than 40,000 nine-liter cases

tillers and new methods of distilling enter-

per year to qualify for membership. Craft,

ing the business, it’s increasingly difficult

however, surely consists of more than

to distinguish what “craft” means.

sheer batch size. It connotes the image of


a master carpenter, and possibly an ap-

Templeton Rye, an Iowa-based whiskey

prentice, toiling in their labors over the

company that markets its “prohibition-

quality of their product. You don’t expect

era recipe,” currently faces three lawsuits

a carpenter to raise and fell the trees for

alleging it deceived customers by not in-

his work. In distilling, however, craft also

dicating on its label that it was sourced

infers the use of local and often organic

from a distilling plant in Indiana. The

ingredients, and an experimental nature

prohibition-era recipe, it turns out, isn’t

in some of the products. The American

actually a rye whiskey, either, so the dis-

Distilling Institute limits annual sales to

tiller added other flavors to mimic the

52,000 cases “where the product is physi-

original taste. Because the ingredients,

cally distilled and bottled on-site.”

engineered in Kentucky, are mixed in its facility in Templeton, Iowa, Templeton

The diverse—and in some cases, truly

defenders declare it a local product. The

unique—liquors the state of Vermont pro-

magic happens in Templeton, apparently.

duces challenge linguistic conventions of category and semantics. Elm Brook Farm,

Ron Elliot of Smuggler’s Notch Distillery,

for example, in East Fairfield, produces

another renowned producer in Vermont,

Rail Dog, a maple li-

agrees. It’s less ex-

quor

from

pensive than buying

100

percent

maple

all of the equipment

sap,

tapped

from

the

distilled

farm’s

maple

trees, then aged in a charred American Oak cask. It’s not quite

vodka,

whis-

key,

rum

or

gin,

and

definitely

not

THE COMMUNITY WILL CHANGE SIGNIFICANTLY FROM OUR PRESENCE

and storage space. “The distillation process is the easiest process,” he told a Burlington

newspa-

per. “You take mash and you distill it to produce liquid. What

liqueur; it’s called maple spirit. Caledo-

do you do with it then? What do you blend

nia Spirits in Hardwick makes a barrel

it with? How do you treat it? What does

aged gin with honey. Smuggler’s Notch,

it touch? How is it aged? That’s all the

in Jeffersonville, makes a hopped gin.

craft piece of it.” Elliot openly acknowl-

Each of these distilleries is exploring

edges that his gold medal award winning,

the limits of the grain and palette, with

2010 Wine Enthusiast’s 12th Best Vodka

remarkable success.

in the World, is distilled in Idaho, where his grain is grown. The label on the bot-

The quality of these products isn’t in

tle, however, gives no indication that any

question. On the contrary, Vermont dis-

part of the production process occurred

tillers make some of the best spirits in

outside of the state. A tagline below a

the world. WhistlePig Farm, for example,

scenic landscape silhouette of its name-

received Wine Enthusiast’s highest ever

sake, Smuggler’s Notch, a valley between

award for a rye whiskey, which is bottled

rugged mountains that bootleggers used

in Shoreham, VT. The rye whiskey, how-

to smuggle moonshine from Canada dur-

ever, is distilled in Canada, imported to

ing prohibition, and the site of a popular

Shoreham, mixed with magic sauce, then

family ski resort, also of the same name,

bottled and sold as Vermont whiskey. But

reads: Vermont’s Mountain Spirit. Surely

is it? Comparisons are odious, but false

it contains some Idaho spirit as well.

advertising derelict.

PAGE 70 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

^ ABOVE


^ ABOVE A patron enjoys a sample of Vermont spirit at the Smugglers’ Notch tasting room


Winter 2015


And that’s not necessarily a bad thing,

building community networks and sup-

says Ryan Christiansen, head distiller

porting local commerce. We hope that “the

and production manager at Caledonia

community will change significantly from

Spirits distillery. Distillers can approach

our presence,” he said. Because of its rel-

the business with many different strate-

ative early success, Caledonia can have

gies. “The only thing that people agree

a stronger impact on local businesses.

on,” among Vermont distillers, “is that

“If a farmer isn’t growing what we need,

there needs to be truth in labeling.”

probably because he tried it in the past, unsuccessfully, we can now give them a

Alcohol is typically classified by, among

deposit for planting next season’s crops,

other things, its terroir. Scotch is from

so the farmer doesn’t have to assume all

Scotland, Bordeaux from the Bordeaux

of the risk, and we can get the local prod-

province of France, Champagne from

ucts we need.” Businesses begin to shape

Champagne, Irish whiskey from Ireland,

their business models off of the indus-

Bourbon from America, Tennessee Whis-

tries thriving around them. Of particular

key from, yes, Tennessee, each with dis-

interest to Christensen is access to local

tinct characteristics and flavors. Blend-

barley. Barley, he points out, needs to be

ed whiskey is labeled such. How does a

malted before distilled, which requires its

geographic hybrid spirit compare? What

own special craft. Christiansen notes the

should it be called?

introduction of a few malters that recently began operations in Vermont, in response

Located in Hardwick, VT, Caledonia Spir-

to growing craft beer and spirit industry

its originated as a honeybee farm, evolved

demands. “It’s a game of patience,” he

into a winery, and currently operates

said, “but in a few years we should have

as a distillery, one that takes craft seri-

the infrastructure streamlined.”

ously. “Hardwick, Caledonia Country,” its website reads, “is a community inspired

Vermont is not a good place for busi-

by farms where the production of milk,

nesses looking to apply a plug-and-play

cheese, timber, grains, honey, seeds, and

business model, Christensen said. That’s

herbs are part of our lives and help define

not what people around here want. Ver-

our place.” Christiansen, the head distill-

mont is a good place for businesses “look-

er, uses local grains and materials when-

ing for local welders, local farmers, and

ever possible. A drop of honey is added

community Christmas parties.”

before bottling its Barr Hill Gin, opening up complex new aromas and unique fla-

A good spirit is a good spirit, whether

vors that change with the seasons. Tom

“craft” or not, and regardless of how its

Cat, what is essentially gin, barrel aged

defined. But some care about more than

for four to six months in a charred Ameri-

taste, or savor the story of the spirit be-

can White Oak barrel, is possibly the only

hind the taste, and what it represents. We

of its kind. Caledonia’s Barr Hill Vodka is

taste with our senses, but also with our

distilled exclusively from the farm’s fer-

imagination. There’s a valid distinction

mented honey, which, when distilled, “re-

between a community oriented, locally

flects the soil and flowers visited by the

sourced, environmentally sustainable dis-

bees.” You can follow the bees’ activities

tillery, and a spirit culled together from a

on Caledonia’s “Live from the Hive” blog,

variety of sources and locations. It’s not

if so inclined.

that one is better than the other; they simply represent different philosophies.

But it’s not just about terrior for Chris-

One of a product, the other of a process,

tensen. The craft spirit is also about

purpose, and place.

PAGE 74 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

Photo courtesy of Caledonai Spirits

Photo courtesy of Caledonai Spirits


RESPECT THE BUZZ WE APPRECIATE CRAFT SPIRITS BUT WE APPRECIATE RESPONSIBILITY EVEN MORE


PAGE 78 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

Pairings: CALEDONIA SPIRITS IN SALT AIR a Rehoboth Beach picnic

Words by KAREN CLAYTON Photography by ANDY SHELTER


On the evening of December 11th, Todd

David concocted unique and whimsical

Hardie, owner & master distiller of Cale-

cocktails that accompanied each course,

donia Spirits in Hardwick, Vermont, made

ranging from a Green Mountain Kir Royale

a 14 hour trek through a foot and a half of

using Todd’s prized Elderberry Cordial, to

snow to share with an intimate group of 30

The Bear Cat that featured Caledonia Tom

folks the story of his hand crafted spirits.

Cat, a barrel aged gin, Creme de Cacoa, fresh cream and a dusting of nutmeg.

Todd is deeply connected with the land, his crops of elderberry, corn, barley and

The Bear Cat was a perfect accompani-

rye and his honey bees, in much the

ment to Maggie’s rendition of a decon-

same way that David Lynch, general

structed fruit cake. She used Todd’s barrel

manager of Salt Air, is to the dishes he

aged spirit to macerate dried winter fruits,

prepares for local epicures at one of Re-

as well as in the caramel sauce she used

hoboth

restaurants.

to write “Tom” across our plates. With

The pairing of the two put their art-

Beach’s

premier

each forkful of Date Nut Cake, Tom Cat

istry and skill on display, resulting in a

Caramel Sauce and Homemade Honey Ice

beautiful marriage of food and spirit.

Cream (made from Todd’s wildflower honey), we thought, “Surely, this is heaven!”

Executive Chef Matt Kern and Pastry Chef Maggie Cellitto built a menu to compli-

The evening was capped with a gener-

ment each of Todd’s hand crafted spir-

ous gift to each guest from Todd: a 1lb

its while incorporating each spirit into

jar of his highly sought after Wildflow-

every course! Every bite was delectable,

er Honey and an invitation to visit his

but Matt’s House Cured Beet and Hibis-

farm and meet the rest of the family!

cus Salmon with Dill Creme Fraiche and Paddlefish Roe drove home just how lucky

If you are seeking a true example of an

we were to have a seat at this dinner.

all-American, hand crafted, artisan spirit, Caledonia Spirits is certainly a great place to start, and a table at Salt Air a worthy alternative to a Delaware beach picnic.

PAGE 80 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


FIRST COURSE

Stilton Fritter molasses and black grape Vermont Cheeses the fixins’

PAGE 82 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

The Green Mountain Kir Royale Charles de fere Brut .25 oz of Caledonia Elderberry Cordial Serve in a champagne flute


SECOND COURSE Beet and Hibiscus Cured Salmon sweet potato blini, dill crème fraiche, paddlefish roe, grapefruit twist

PAGE 84 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

The Monarch 1.5 oz Barr Hill Gin .75 oz Giffard Creme de Pamplemousse .5 oz Cynar .5 oz lime Shake and serve in a highball topped with soda and a grapefruit twist


THIRD COURSE Coriander Crusted Scallop cucumber, yogurt, crispy parsnip, tarragon emulsion

PAGE 86 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

Vermont Vesper 2 oz. Barr Hill Gin 1 oz. Barr Hill Vodka .5 oz. Cocchi Americano, stir with cracked ice and serve up with an orange twist


DESSERT COURSE

Take-A-Part Fruitcake date nut cake, spiced tom cat caramel, honey ice cream, tom cat macerated winter fruit

PAGE 88 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

The Bear Cat 1.5 oz Tom Cat Barrel Aged Gin .75 oz White Crème de Cacao .75 oz cream shake vigorously and serve up with a dusting of nutmeg


MicroShiner #JoinTheMovement—Subscribe Now! www.MicroShiner.com


Personal Gear For us here at MicroShiner, craft is about more than just spirits and cocktails. Its about creating a culture built upon connecting people with producers who share similar philosophies and goals. Whether someone is looking for a bespoke product to express their personal taste and identity, a local or more sustainable alternative to the big name brands, or simply the best example of an item that money can buy, today’s craft manufacturers have it covered. Winter gear is no exception, and for this issue we have curated a number of items from custom and independent brands that are sure to appeal to the craft-oriented whiskey & winter sports enthusiast.

^ Great American Flask $250 MSRP www.bexargoods.com

> Marhar Archaic snowboard $459.95 MSRP www.marharsnowboards.com

PAGE 92 | MicroShiner.com


Autumn 2013

> Jeffrey 114 ski $729 MSRP www.on3pskis.com < Kartel 106 ski $679 MSRP www.on3pskis.com

Khaki Kamper jacket $339 MSRP www.nwt3k.com V


MountainMoonshine Photography by Jeremy Jensen

Words by Drew de la Rosa

The Sierra Nevada mountain range is often overlooked when the somewhat obscure topic of mountain ranges is discussed. It isn’t revered for the romance of yodelers and edelweiss like the Alps, lacks

the

famous

Sherpa

dominated

peaks of the Himalayas, and no longer has the reputation as playground of the rich and famous that the Rockies now enjoy. In fact, the Sierra’s prominence has only arisen in history a couple of times. Once when the treacherous weather forced weary travelers to supposedly succumb to hunger in the ultimate way. A second time a few years later when gold was found in Sutter Creek. And most recently when mobsters ran South Lake Tahoe as depicted in Mario Puzo’s classic story.


But for those who live in the shadow of

ing any kind of oil product directly to the

these ancient monoliths, jutting toward

ground is extremely detrimental to the

the sky and dividing two states glamor-

environment, and runoff to the sea cata-

ized in their own way, the Sierras are still

strophic to marine life. After riding home

very relevant. Aside from this year, the

on his motorcycle one night, Jeff realized

Sierras provide California with the bulk

his bike, shoes, and pants were all coat-

of their water. Conversely, they create a

ed in a sticky residue, presumably from

rain shadow in Nevada that leads to the

the tar they were using on the dirt roads.

Great Basinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s famed arid climate. A winter

Upon further inspection, though, he saw

crossing is a rite of passage for all new

that the substance was actually molas-

drivers and makes the reward of a snow

ses, and more molasses was discovered in

filled weekend that much sweeter. Resi-

the repurposed drums.

dency is usually reserved for the wealthy or the fiercely independent. Tahoe Moon-

Sugar cane is one of the major agricul-

shine owner and founder Jeff VanHee

tural products in Costa Rica. From it is

could be described as the latter.

derived various forms of sugar such as the molasses used on the roads and a

Not independent in a doomsday prepper,

granulated product called Sucanat. Back

I-have-a-bunker-in-my-back-yard-filled-

in Ukiah, Jeff had been making fuel etha-

with-30-years-of-canned-beans

of

nol from cattails growing in black water

way. More in a free spirit fashion. Pun not

reed beds. In Costa Rica, he continued

really intended.

this hobby after discovering the immense

kind

availability of Sucanat. His fuel operation Jeff has been living in Tahoe since 1990.

went well, powering many small motors

Originally

took

on ethanol, but the industry was moving

him down the West Coast, and recent-

toward a purity obsession, rather than

ly through Mendocino County and into

the original goals of sustainable energy. It

Santa Cruz. Mendocino is famous for its

became popular to add benzene to extract

cannabis industry, but many donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t real-

the remaining water from the distillate,

ize that it isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just about the weed. The

but benzene is carcinogenic and not very

whole area has a very progressive culture

fun to play with.

from

Oregon,

surfing

promoting holistic liberty. Jeff studied alternative building in Ukiah through the

So, Jeff did what any other person would

Solar Living Institute and eventually took

do in this situation and just drank

these skills to Costa Rica where he worked

his fuel.

as a contractor to feed his surfing habit. Sucanat turned out to make a very high You could call Costa Rica the birthplace

quality product, so much so that Jeff still

of Tahoe Moonshine. A good portion of the

uses it as the base of many of his spir-

roads down there are unpaved dirt, and

its, still imported from Costa Rica, and

dust control during the dry season is a

organic. It is one of the few ingredients

real problem. So the government would

not locally sourced, but the practice still

coat the dirt roads to stave the erosion.

aligns with his deeply rooted grassroots

Jeff saw 55 gallon drums labeled by a

philosophy. The only mass produced corn

petroleum company near one of the road

neutral grain spirits you will find at the

work areas and became immediately con-

Tahoe operation are used for prototyping

scious of its proximity to the ocean. Add-

flavors and topping off smaller yields.

PAGE 98 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015 Autumn 2013

MicroShiner.com | PAGE 99


PAGE 100 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


It was poetry

basic simple in structure

like a haiku

Owner and distiller Jeff Van Hees holds up a bottle of his Tahoe Moonshine

PAGE 102 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015 Summer 2014

It took me a while to find the distillery.

to a multipurpose loft, home to miscel-

My Sonoma County predisposition had

laneous storage and the potential energy

me looking for a gaudy mansion or some

gravity provides for moving fluids around.

elaborate wine caves. Instead, in the cen-

Even though this area was strictly busi-

ter of a tiny industrial complex, I found an

ness, Wu Tang Clan resonated from large

unassuming corrugated steel warehouse

speakers in the room. I was told ska and

split into two units, Tahoe Moonshine oc-

reggae make regular appearances, too.

cupying one of them. It wasn’t really labeled and the only hint as to what was

Off in the corner of the main room sat the

happening inside was the standup paddle

cornerstone of the operation: a beautiful,

board sitting outside. I had never met Jeff

120 gallon, full copper still, custom made

before this, never spoke to him aside from

for Tahoe Moonshine from Jeff’s own de-

a few scheduling emails, and didn’t know

signs. This functional work of art stood

anything about him. I was a bit surprised

about eight feet tall on a raised platform,

when my knock at the door was answered

everything around it clear for efficient

by a smiling long-haired man who ap-

work and proper safety. The build is sim-

peared to be in his late thirties, followed

ple. Amazingly so. Distillation isn’t a ter-

by a massive malamute that looked more

ribly complex concept, but his isn’t much

like a furry barrel than a dog. Boulder,

different than other homemade stills I

the perfect name. I don’t know what I was

have seen. Obviously it had much better

expecting, perhaps Jonathan Goldsmith

fit and finish, but it goes to show that the

as the Most Interesting Man in the World,

tools do not make the craftsperson. It had

but not the embodiment of Santa Cruz.

a main chamber made of copper sheet, and a removable top attached to a marble-

Soon it became clear, however, that re-

packed reflux column. Sitting not too far

gardless of his looks, Jeff was a man with

away is another custom pot attachment.

a plan, forged in hard work and determi-

The whole thing was heated by four basic

nation. The epitome of Zen balance be-

heating elements. It was like poetry, ba-

tween a dedicated servant to the task at

sic, simple in structure, like a haiku.

hand, and a guy that just wants to chillax with his buddies. This vibe resonated

Jeff and his team, copiloted by longtime

throughout the small distillery, the first

friend and super cool dude, Seth Hall,

room being home to a no-nonsense desk

started with five products: light and dark

and work area, as well as a collection of

Sucanat rums, GMO-free corn Stormin’

comfy couches and ottomans on which

Whiskey, Snowflake Vodka and a gin,

Boulder promptly plopped after receiving

both made from local honey out of Placer-

sufficient attention from their new guest.

ville, CA. The Stormin’ is barrel aged for

Also another paddle board. The next room

one year in French oak barrels in house.

was a combination cleanup station and,

Production started in 2010, but in 2011,

uh, sampling center.

they found distribution on a much grander scale, first Epic Distributing, and then

The first two rooms ran the depth of the

the big time with Southern Wine and Spir-

building at half width. The other half was

its. Today they enjoy a presence in retail-

completely taken up by the main produc-

ers all across California and Nevada such

tion area, a room dominated by dozens

as bars, BevMo!, Total Wine, Whole Foods,

of fermentation vessels, oak aging casks,

and Raley’s. Business is going very well

and a secured bonded area, about 2,000

for their small payroll. So well, in fact,

gallons total. A sketchy metal ladder led

that they have already sold out of their


newest offering, Danger Dog, an 80 proof,

He explains that he could have made it

rough cut cinnamon whiskey with just a

easier on himself; all he had to do was

hint of maple sweetness.

add 10% brandy to each of his products and doors would open. But that isn’t Jeff.

The whole time I had been talking with

That wouldn’t be in compliance with his

Jeff, I’d been sitting on one of the very

vision for his products. One of the things

comfy couches in the front room. Boul-

that California law allows had he added

der had remained stationary, asleep on

the brandy is the ability to serve and sell

an adjacent sofa like a gargantuan throw

directly to customers onsite without a dis-

pillow. Time was running out, as Jeff had

tributor. New law in Nevada allows direct

to get home to his wife and 7 month old

sales on-site including small-batch, non-

daughter. I had tried to come prepared

production products, as well as testers

with a list of questions and topics, but we

and prototypes of exciting new flavors.

had gotten lost in stories about his beginnings. We touched briefly on the present,

By the end of March, Jeff hopes to have

but what really interested me was the fu-

completed the move into their new home,

ture. I asked for just a few more minutes,

which will include a speakeasy bar and

if it wasn’t too much of a problem, and

tasting room, a few miles down the road

he graciously obliged. And poured me a

in Stateline, NV. He told me that he had

second

actually been down at the location ear-

Danger

Dog,

which

was

dangerously delicious.

lier that day finishing up some electrical work, satisfying the contractor still

I asked Jeff what his five year plan was.

in him, even though he has given all of

He chuckled, but didn’t skip a beat. Man

his time to Tahoe Moonshine and let

with a plan. It is no secret that up until re-

his license lapse this last year. The new

cently, Nevada has been less than hospi-

place will be a bit larger than their cur-

table toward distillers. State laws made it

rent 1,400 square foot location, but will

very difficult for small operations to come

accommodate their current demand of

to fruition, let alone profitability. Restric-

about 50 cases a day without pushing the

tions regarding direct sales and distribu-

limits of their current 2,000 case annual

tion were major hurdles. Headway was re-

production capabilities. He is also excit-

ally only made in the last decade or so. It

ed to add a second still to the workflow,

still isn’t a cakewalk, which is part of the

another custom design.

reason Jeff initially chose the California side of the lake to set up shop. However,

Jeff has high hopes for the future. Eter-

despite its impressive craft beer and wine

nally humble, but I refuse to let him call

industry, or maybe rather because of it,

his hopes anything less than premoni-

California isn’t the most friendly state

tions. I seriously doubt he will cease turn-

toward distillers either. This shocked me.

ing the crystal clear Lake Tahoe water

I threw out multiple examples of bran-

into top shelf product, but he isn’t dis-

dy distillers operating in the state and

tracted by the future and accounts for

was confused as to why Tahoe Moon-

all contingencies. After the move, Tahoe

shine would be treated any differently.

Moonshine’s top goals will be to intro-

Jeff’s answer was concise, and telling.

duce a few new flavors, including a rye

The grape lobby.

and Dream Bean coffee liqueur with local

PAGE 108 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


PAGE 112 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015

roaster Alpine Sierra. They are also work-

was having a kid. Their daughters were

ing on a line of premixed drinks consigned

born two weeks apart. We walked back

by MGM Resorts and, likely, national

into what served as the tasting room and

brand recognition.

he pulled some chips and hummus from a fridge with a toaster oven on top that

With that, I let Jeff go. It was apparent

I hadn’t noticed before. He continued to

that his passion could keep him talking

pour samples and described the whole

for hours more, but he is still a family

process in a way that sounded holistic.

man. The interview took a while to set up

Like the sculptor that sees the art in the

since he was jet setting the month prior,

clay before he touches a tool. Yeast stud-

off to Paris where is wife splits her work

ies, yeast recordings, how they sound like

time, and then down to Costa Rica to

whale calls while they are healthy, and TV

surf and water his roots. I thanked him

snow when they aren’t. Part superstition,

for his time and he couldn’t have been a

he says he talks to them like plants and

better host. Before he took off, he asked

plays them music, believing in the power

Seth to show me around again and an-

of intention and positive energy. All of this

swer any more questions, then the two

coming from a guy that would look right

of them made plans to hit the slopes for

at home at a Metallica show, hair longer

an early morning ride at Heavenly before

than Jeff’s under a plain beanie.

coming back to work at their dream job. With a handshake and a pet, I bid Jeff and

Both

Boulder farewell.

passionate guys.

Seth gave me a more nuanced tour of the

It was getting late. I intended to be in and

place, showing me all kinds of nifty dis-

out of their hair in about an hour, but I

tilling equipment they had collected. Bits

had stayed for nearly three. Usually I am

and pieces of specialty copper, mesh, col-

hyper aware of being an imposition, but

umn parts, and a variety of essential oil

never did that cross my mind. They were

equipment. I got to try a few of their pro-

so welcoming and never once made me feel

totypes, including a one off batch of their

uncomfortable. I am sure the generous

gin that came out deliciously cucumber-y

tastings helped, but even when we parted

and a pomegranate hibiscus absinthe. I

ways, both made sure I had their con-

have never had anything off the shelf with

tact information and would call them if I

such delicate flavors. Maybe they will see

needed anything else, or if I just wanted to

a label, maybe not. Seth focuses mainly

come by again and kick it. I needed to kill

on the product now, while Jeff handles

some time, get some food, and then battle

the business side of things. The two of

the elements back through the mountains

them come up with recipes, but they also

and the weather that was brewing.

of

them

very

cool,

very

promote experimentation by their small number of employees. Eight in total,

I can’t wait to get back up there, to see

including

their new place, but I am more excited to

a

few

sales

and

marketing specialists.

see them appear in more local bars and stores. Tahoe Moonshine, like the lake it-

Seth shared great stories about the be-

self, a perfect, oval cut sapphire in a gran-

ginnings of the company. Told about

ite setting, is unique, robust, and stands

wild beginnings, surfing, partying, a jam

for everything the Sierra Nevada moun-

band concert where he and Jeff both

tains have come to represent.

became the first people to know the other Raw but still fragile. And loved by many.


MicroShiner #JoinTheMovement â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Subscribe Now! www.MicroShiner.com


High Altitude Colorado’s Après Spirits

The word “après” has for decades been an essential term in ski culture. Few experiences are more satisfying than finishing a day on the slopes by sipping a cocktail at the base of the mountain. In Colorado, where the heavy influence of craft beer culture dominates the drink menu at most establishments, it can take some effort to track down a cocktail stocked with handmade, small batch liquor. Lucky for you, MicroShiner has done the research on the subject and come back with some of the best craft cocktails in the high country. Next time you’re departing Denver west on I-70, check out one of these slope-side bars.

Curated by Tim Wenger


Rathskellar Bar, Loveland At the base of Loveland Ski Area, the Rathskellar Bar sits tucked away in the bottom floor of the main lodge. In lieu of drinking upstairs with the tourists, the locals prefer The Rathskellar for its laid back vibe and homemade chili, as well as a bar fully stocked with Colorado originals. The Rathskellar is open daily from 10 am to 6 PM.

Dave’s Drifter The signature cocktail of bar manager Dave Tilley has long been a local’s favorite. Named after Tilley and one of his favorite runs, Dave’s Drifter is the house favorite. Dave has been running the show in the Rathskeller for 19 years. The drink is made with Tincup Colorado American Whiskey, Loveland’s Homemade Irish Cream, Coffee Liquor with choice of coffee or hot chocolate topped with whipped cream.

PAGE 118 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


Incline Bar and Grill, Copper Mountain Incline Bar and Grill is located in the Mill Club Building at the base of the American Eagle lift at Copper Mountain and has developed a reputation as the place to go at Copper for local spirits and 17 Colorado microbrews. As far as craft spirits, this place is a meccafive vodkas, one gin, 3 bourbons, and one liqueur. Ryan Worthen, one of the establishmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s managing partners, walked us through their list of craft cocktails.

Colorado Manhattan A high altitude take on the east coast classic Breckenridge

Bourbon

and

Breckenridge

Bourbon

Sipping Bitters.

Colorado Bourbon Whiskey Sour Breckenridge mix

(2

parts

Bourbon lime

3 parts sugar, 3 parts water)

PAGE 120 | MicroShiner.com

with

juice,

2

homemade parts

lemon

sour juice,


Winter 2015


T -Bar, Breckenridge The T-Bar sits at the base of Peak 8 in Breck, and

is

known

for

its

Bacon

Bloody

Mary.

However, the team at the T-Bar has put together a good list of craft cocktails. “The T -Bar is the best place for apres on the mountain,” says Alysa Hetze, Sr. Communications Coordinator for Breckenridge Ski Resort. “There are gorgeous views of Peak 8. We have an indoor and outdoor seating area, so it’s a great place to come have a drink at the end of the ski day. There is always live entertainment in here on the weekends.” The T-Bar is open daily at 11 am, with last call happening generally between 5 and 6 pm.

Sno Mule The Sno Mule is made with J&L Distilling’s Sno Vodka,

fresh

mint,

lime

juice,

simple

syrup,

and Gosling’s Ginger Beer.

Fyr Side The Fyr Side is crafted with J&L Distilling’s Fyr Liqueur, hard cider, lemon juice, served over ice.

Peach 8 Apple Cider This drink is made with Leopold Bros. Rocky Mtn. Peach Liqueur, Cinnamon Schnapps, garnished with a cinnamon stick and a dollop of whipped cream.

PAGE 122 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


Corona Bar, Eldora Mountain Resort The Corona Bar is the home base for apres when skiing at Eldora. Located upstairs in the Timbers Lodge, the place features live music on weekends (generally jam band and bluegrass, the resort is located just outside of Nederland, one of the state’s most notorious “hippie towns”) and generally keeps the party going until about 6 pm.

Eldora Eggnog Bar manager Chris Turner put this concoction together to thicken the blood of patrons after they spend a day outside in the windy Roosevelt National Forest. Starting with a quart of Chris’ home-made eggnog, he adds 12 oz of bourbon whiskey and 1 ½ oz of brandy.

PAGE 124 | MicroShiner.com


Winter 2015


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MicroShiner - Issue 09  

10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Co, Tahoe Moonshine, Caledonia Spirits and more from the world of craft spirits

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