The Iconic Spirits Blog

Colorado Craft Distillers, Part I

October 31, 2012

Tags: colorado craft distillers, leopold brothers, stranahan's, downslope distilling

There are now 40 craft distilleries in Colorado, compared with a handful only five years ago; the craft spirits scene is both vibrant and fascinating. This week and next week, Iíll capsule the highlights of my recent visit:

Leopold Brothers: This operation is run by (you guessed it) two guys named Leopold, who started as brewers in Ann Arbor before relocating to Colorado. Todd began his career making beer, and later went back to school to learn to be a distiller; Scott has a background as an environmental engineer, and is the public face of the small company. (more…)

Templeton Rye: Lost and Found

October 24, 2012

Tags: templeton rye

Prohibition left a few scars on the American psyche, but it also gave us some great stories. One of those is the tale of Templeton Rye.

Here are the bones: During the time of the Great Thirst, the farmers of Templeton, Iowa (population 362) made the same discovery other farmers have stumbled on for centuries---that it was more profitable to distill their crops into whiskey than to sell them as food. The rye whiskey made in Templeton gained a wide reputation, and was considered to be the best of its kind. At its peak it sold for $5.50 per gallon, or the equivalent of $75 in 2012 dollars. It also became the favorite whiskey of Al Capone, who both drank it and resold it on the black market. Templeton Rye became well-known in the speakeasies of Kansas City, Omaha and Chicago, and was famous as far away as New York and San Francisco. (more…)

NOLET'S Silver Dry Gin

October 17, 2012

Tags: nolet's silver dry gin, nolet's reserve dry gin

Joannes Nolet founded his distillery in Schiedam, Holland, in 1691. He most likely made jenever, a distillation of malt wine that is widely regarded as the precursor to gin. Back then, the spirit was produced in a pot still, which was the only distillation vessel available; since the pot still yielded a range of impurities, herbs and spices were added to cover them up. One of the additions was the juniper berry, and gin as we know it now was launched on its evolutionary trajectory. (more…)


October 10, 2012

Tags: laphroaig, laphroaig 10 year-old, laphroaig triple wood

The Laphroaig distillery is located on the island of Islay, 25 miles off the Irish coast. The island has been described as wind-swept, and the term is probably accurate as well as poetic. It is the southernmost point in the Inner Hebrides, and became part of Scotland in the 18th century. It has 3000 inhabitants and two industries: agriculture and whisky. (more…)

Partida Tequila

October 3, 2012

Tags: partida tequila

Most of us are suckers for tradition---the fourth-generation distiller, the wine estate dating to 1600. At the same time, we cherish entrepreneurs, and admire the visionary person who creates something out of nothing.

Partida Tequila falls firmly in the second category. It was created by J. Gary Shansby, who worked his way up to Chairman of the Board and CEO of Shaklee Corporation. Following that, he founded a consumer goods private equity firm and devoted himself to building brands: Famous Amos cookies, Mauna Loa macadamia nuts, Terra Chips and La Victoria Mexican foods, among others. (more…)