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Roundhouse Spirits

Posted by Reese On November - 8 - 2011

I love it when the little guy survives against the odds and ends up thriving.  It’s the classic story of the underdog and I can’t help but think that applies to the story of Roundhouse Spirits.  Started in 2008 in a small garage in Longmont, Colorado, Roundhouse first produced only gin, one micro batch at a time.  They distilled each batch from grain neutral spirits and hand selected botanticals in a 3 gallon still.  The batches were so small that some of the bontanicals measured only one increment on their scale.  That meant they could easily add anywhere from half to double the amount they were wanting for each ingredient.  This resulted in vast swings in the flavor profile for each batch (a single 6 bottle case).

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Full Picture Set on Flickr

While some people loved  this variation and micro batching, the distiller, Ted Palmer, definitely did not.  You see, he hand bottled every batch.  From filling to corking to labeling and sealing, it was all done with his two hands and bent back.  But, don’t feel too bad for them yet.  This is where the story gets really good.  Roundhouse was met with glowing reviews and became popular.  This has allowed the distillery to expand.

Moving to new digs in Boulder, complete with two stills, a brass and steel mash tun, storage room and, to Ted’s great appreciation, a small bottling line and labeler.  This move has done a few things for Roundhouse.  First, it’s allowed them to smooth out the wild variations in their product.  Sure, you’ll still get variation since they’re producing small batches, but it won’t be nearly as wide as it was originally.  Second, it’s allowed them to increase production.  This is just plain good all around.  Third, it’s allowed them to start experimenting and creating new products.

Roundhouse still produces their two core products.  Roundhouse gin, their first and still flagship spirit, now has some credentials behind it.  Since they started production, Roundhouse gin has won a gold medal from the International Review of Spirits and a bronze medal from the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.  Very nicely done!  Corretto, their coffee liqueur, remains the best coffee liqueur I’ve ever sampled.  It’s crisp and clean.  They keep it lightly sweet by using really great coffee locally roasted at the Unseen Bean.  This really good coffee keeps the bitterness down.  Thus, less sugar is needed to tame it all.

In addition to these core spirits, Roundhouse is now producing two other offerings.  Starting in March of 2011, in very small quantities, in Colorado only, you could get your hands on their Imperial Barrel Aged Gin.  Ted summed this up really nicely when he said that a lot of the local bartenders call this ginskey.  It combines the flavors of gin with the barrel aged flavors of a whiskey.  As such, it plays really well, and extremely interestingly, in both gin and whiskey cocktails.  Starting more or less right now (Nov 2011) Roundhouse will start offering an agave spirit.  Can’t really call it tequila, so they’ve decided to call it Tatonka.  Based on pure blue agave nectar this spirit is tremendously smooth while maintaining the agave flavors.  Since Ted leaves out the heads, which some tequila producers leave in for added flavor, Tatonka has none of the drawbacks of traditional tequila and all the benefits.

There’s not a ton more for me to add to this success story beyond, well done, gents.  Keep up the awesome work and keep the spirits flowing.  If you’re interested you can tour the distillery Thursday – Saturday from 3:00pm – 7:00pm with no appointment needed.  While you’re there sample some of the custom crafted cocktails.  You can’t go wrong.  As for getting your hands on a bottle, Roundhouse is now available in CO, TX, WY and MO.  If you’re not in one of the distribution areas, though, fear not.  They’re also available online.

Updated My Liquor Cabinet Page!

Posted by Reese On November - 5 - 2011

Well, it took two years, a move, completely tearing down and rebuilding my liquor shelves and drinking too many cocktails to count, but, here it is, my updated Liquor Cabinet.  I’ve updated the picture and the full listing of everything in the collection.  I must say, listing it all really gives a much better view of the magnitude for me.  Time for a drink!

Liquor Cabinet as of 2011-11-03

Halloween Cocktails 2011

Posted by Reese On October - 27 - 2011

It’s Halloween time again fellow drinkers!  This year I went for a smallish cocktail menu for a game night with my friends.  I included one classic because, let’s face the facts, the Corpse Reviver #2 is damned delicious.  As for the other two, I went with a couple interesting recipes that I found on the web.

The first, the disturbingly named Fetus in a Glass, comes from fellow cocktail bloggers over at Cocktails, 365.  The recipe is fairly standard until you get to the end.  The last step is to drizzle a fine stream of heavy cream into the mixed cocktail.  The result is a congealed mass of seriously nasty looking cream floating atop the cocktail.  My drizzle doesn’t look nearly as good (or is that bad) as theirs though so definitely go check out their pics.  The cocktail itself, however, is really tasty.

Fetus in a Glass

Fetus in a Glass
1 1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1 oz Barenjager Honey Liqueur
1 oz Hazelnut Liqueur
Heavy Cream to Drizzle
1) Shake the bourbon and liqueurs with ice
2) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
3) Drizzle the cream in a fine stream into the cocktail

The flavor is sweet, as you’ve probably guessed from the Barenjager and hazelnut liqueur, but not overly so.  The cream smooths things out really nicely and the bourbon flavors come through great.  Overall this is a super tasty cocktail.  The cream makes for an interesting mouth feel to the cocktail, but not unpleasant.

The second recipe isn’t really all that interesting on its own, but the visual is pretty stunning.  I took a spare bottle of vodka and added a bunch of black food coloring, yielding jet black vodka.  Which, on a side note, you can also buy.  Now you take a few ounces of orange juice and pour it in a glass.  Add an ice cube or two.  Then slowly, very slowly, pour two ounces of the vodka into the bowl of a spoon held just above the level of the OJ.  The vodka will layer on top of the juice cleanly.  Which leaves you with this.

Screwdriver to the Brain

Screwdriver to the Brain
4 oz Orange Juice
2 oz Black Vodka
1) Add the OJ to a glass with a couple ice cubes
2) Slowly layer the vodka on top of the juice

Enjoy the holiday, fellow drinkers!

The Afterlife of a Bourbon Barrel

Posted by Reese On October - 13 - 2011

According to a recent article on Yahoo! Finance there are currently over 5 million barrels of whiskey aging in Kentucky alone.  And, unlike other spirits industries, those barrels will be used for bourbon only one time.  You see, per federal guidelines, to be called bourbon, whiskey must be aged in new charred oak barrels.  So, that begs the question, where do all of those barrels go after they’ve aged delicious bourbon.

Maker's Mark Display Barrel

Turns out they go all over the world and get used for all kinds of stuff.  The one you’re likely already aware of is that they get sent to other distilleries to age other spirits.  Scotch and rum are the two big users of bourbon barrels.  But did you know that some bitters are aged in whiskey barrels?  How about cocktailsBeer? Fish sauce?  Yeah, me either.

The folks over at Tasting Table followed a few barrels as they left Kentucky distilleries to see where they ended up.  They have a great artcile and infographic showing what they found.  Some of the uses sure surprised me.

Alcohol Helps Make You Sick

Posted by Reese On September - 30 - 2011

I’m a positive kind of guy. I don’t like to share bad news, but this one I felt needed to be told. We all know that alcohol is a diuretic and a mild poison. As a result if you drink too much you feel like death (e.g. the dreaded hangover). But, now comes the really sad news, it seems alcohol may also make you more susceptible to sickness. A new study shows that alcohol reduces the activation of pathways in the body responsible for responding to viral and bacterial infections.  “Such a reduction would impair the body’s ability to fight off infection.”

Now for a more happy note.  The results are based on drinking the equivalent of 4-5 drinks per day for 7 days straight.  Might explain why some folks get sick when they get home from vacation.  So, on the bright side, having a Hot Toddy when you’re feeling sick probably isn’t going to make you much worse off.  Just don’t binge on them for a solid week.  Which is probably solid advice anyhow.

[Via Gizmodo]