January 5, 2011 § 1 Comment
Today was a perfect example of what I hope to learn from this project. The Bitter Bar folks were nice enough to let me tag along on a tour of the Leopold Brothers (“international major award winning”) batch distillery in Denver. Todd, half of the Leopold brothers duo, humbly acknowledges that their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed, but like all truly great artisans, you can tell his real passion lies in the art and science of making amazing spirits.
After working with so many big companies, it was inspiring for me to see such a passionate, hands-on approach. Not only do they have the know-how to get the science side of the equation right, they honor the art that goes beyond efficiencies to master quality. This is seen from their relentless pursuit of sourcing the right ingredients to the refinement of their mashing and fermentation process. They may not be as efficient as the big boys but their spirits are damn good.
I have to say I’m learning to really like whiskey. There’s something in learning how a product is lovingly made that can give you a whole new appreciation for it. Thanks to Todd for 2 great hours of learning (yes, he’s fun to listen to for 2 hours).
So onto some of the highlights of what I tasted:
Whiskeys: I really liked the Maryland style rye whiskey – being a kid in Pennsylvania it reminded me of a lot of the flavors I had being around my grandparents, although more subtle. They also make a pre-prohibition style whiskey that shows the uniqueness of their pot distillation approach. The apple whiskey was so delicious and is perfect for a nice, crisp Fall day.
Out of their liqueurs, I leaned more towards the orange and three pins alpine herbal liqueurs. To me, these reflect their ability to improvise and experiment in a way that results in something familiar but totally on another level.
While we didn’t taste the absinthe (probably good since I was driving), I have a bottle at home and it is hands down the best I’ve had in the States, and arguably in Europe. It is a sophisticated absinthe.
What a great experience and one I hope is typical of what I find along the way. I hope you can get your hands on some of their spirits and enjoy the fruits of an admirable family-owned company’s labor.