On a recent visit to Colorado, Kate and I hit up Laws Whiskey House for a tour, and it blew away the other distilleries we visited. The tour guide was phenomenal, and the distillery has a great, honest feel to it, which can be hard to find these days.
After having a successful run in the oil and gas industry, Al Laws wanted to dive deeper into his passion for whiskey and decided to start his own distillery as a side project. He contacted Bill Friel, retired Master Distiller at Barton, to help him set up a distillery that could be run by a single person. Laws ran the distillation (basically) solo for the first 6 months while still rocking his day job, going in before work, having his wife chip in at lunch, then picking up after he left the office. Laws ran into a couple of snags due to scalability and distilling at the Denver altitude (that pesky rye can be tough to wrangle, especially at a mile high elevation), so he brought in some help to help fine tune the operation. Jake Norris (aka ‘Whiskey Jake’), Master Distiller and founding partner of Stranahan’s had left the company after its acquisition by Proximo in 2011 an was making the rounds as a consultant, so Laws hit him up and once he got everything squared away, he took a position as the new Master Distiller at Laws Whiskey House. Their motto is “There are no shortcuts” and it shows. They sat on the whiskey as it aged, deciding not to source or distill vodka or gin, and it’s obvious they take great passion in what they do.
Laws held back two of their 53-gallon barrels from their first batch, then let them age for an extra year to be re-released as a special run. So, let’s see how it is!
Company: Laws Whiskey House
Distillery: Laws Whiskey House
Mash Bill: 60% corn/20% wheat/10% rye/10% barley
ABV: 47.5% (95 proof)
Age: NAS (around 4 years)
Color: Deep amber
Nose: The aroma is nice and fruity, and every time I take a whiff I get a different grain. Sweetness from the corn and wheat, nice earthiness from the malt, and spice from the rye. Behind the dominate grain notes is honey, vanilla, and oak. There is a specific fruitiness I can’t quite nail, it’s kind of like sweet fruit cup syrup. Mmmm…fruit cup syrup.
Taste: Right off the bat the mouthfeel is a huge win, thick and velvety. Corn, vanilla and honey jump out up front then are followed by rich oak, green apple, rye spice, and black pepper. Just like the nose, every sip seems to highlight a different grain with all four being in great balance.
Finish: The rye comes out as the predominate grain on the finish with cinnamon, honey, and oak. While the rye does stand out, it doesn’t throw the finish out of balance as the other grains are still there to back things up.
Overall: The balance on this Bourbon is spot on. Other four grains I’ve tried tend to be off balance with everything competing, but this one really allows each one to shine while working together to deliver a really great experience. While the samples we tried at the distillery were good, the extra age that this re-release has is completely necessary. The four grains are in balance on the other batches, you really need that extra oak to dry out the sweetness a touch and pull the whole thing together. I still would recommend picking up whatever Laws release you can find, even without that extra year it’s worth trying, and I’ve heard their rye is fantastic.