At a party on their new garden patio last Saturday evening, June 15, Spirit Hound Distillers, Lyons’ first legal distillery, released a new bottled spirit. Spirit Hound White Dog Moonshine is the unaged, all-malt spirit that the company distills and ages in charred oak barrels for its burgeoning whisky effort. The distillery is releasing this “white whisky” in its fresh form due to its exceptional flavor and demand from consumers stopping at the distillery.
“Our customers have been clamoring for whisky since we opened,” says distiller and co-owner Craig Engelhorn, “and we won’t compromise or rush our aged spirits. But our unaged spirit is clean and flavorful, and after reducing it to 90
proof, I was pleasantly surprised by how good it tasted.”
The spirit is made from an all-malt whisky wash that is made from Colorado Malting Company base malts and includes a small amount of peat-smoked malt. “It’s a clear spirit,” Engelhorn says, “but it’s got peaty, earthy notes much like a Scotch whisky. And the finish is quite smooth with only a little of the burn that spirits fans associate with white whisky, moonshine, or white lightning.”
White Dog Moonshine will only be available for purchase at the distillery in Lyons. Spirit Hound Sales Director Wayne Anderson wants the “whiskey lovin’ Lyons community” to know that he still has a few bottles left after the party, and tasting samples of White Dog Moonshine will be available in the distillery’s tasting room. He says, “Just one sip and I’m transported back to the Alabama pine forests of my youth. Damn that’s tasty.”
Spirit Hound Gin and Richardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur are now available to a larger Colorado audience thanks to a distribution deal the company just signed with Beverage Distributors Company (BDC) in Aurora, Colorado. BDC carries national and international spirits from Diageo, Brown-Forman and Proximo Spirits, and handles a selection of Colorado craft beers (from the Odell, Avery and Great Divide breweries) and craft spirits such as Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.
“Great products that can endure,” says Jeremy Tostrup, Vice President and General Manager for Summit Distributors, BDC’s craft division, “always have a solid sense of place and are authentic. You get both of those when you visit the Spirit Hound distillery and meet the founders. They’re great people that are obsessed with quality and being a big part of their community. And their spirits are exceptionally good.”
Spirit Hound’s whisky is distilled on a copper whisky still that Engelhorn designed and built. The still is eleven feet tall and holds one hundred and fifty gallons in its steam-fired boiler. The company’s gin is distilled on a much smaller copper still that Engelhorn built. That still, slowly distills about thirteen gallons of spirit at a time, and produces about one gallon of distilled liquid each hour. Spirit Hound will soon complete the installation of a twenty-four-barrel brewing system that it will use to make its own whisky. The “distiller’s wash” for the whisky will ferment in six twenty-four-barrel fermenters now in place at the facility.
Spirit Hound’s founders all live in Lyons and have beer and business ties to the Lyons and Boulder County areas. Matt Rooney is a veterinarian, animal surgeon and founder of Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists (in Longmont) and Alpenglow Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Medical Center (in Boulder). Richardo’s Decaf Coffee Liqueur (created by Lyons resident Rick England) recently won a gold medal at the recent Denver International Spirits Competition. Vice president Neil Sullivan is the founder of the new St. Vrain Market in Lyons, a gourmet market housed in an 1890 building he refurbished at 455 Main Street. Spirit Hound sales director Wayne Anderson helped launch the microcanning effort of Oskar Blues Brewery & Pub and served as the brewery’s director of sales from 2002 through 2009 (he and his wife Debbie own The Fork in Lyons). Engelhorn was the original brewer for Oskar Blues from 1998 to 2002 and created the brewpub’s first beers.