Even during a pandemic, this brand proves hard work and a generous spirit defines a true success story of one of the best craft distilleries in the U.S.
In 2018 ICONIC LIFE spoke with Curt Richardson about his newest endeavor in Fort Collins, Colorado after building some of the world’s leading tech product companies, like Otterbox and Lifeproof. At that time, Richardson’s family business Old Elk Distillery was just on the rise and only being distributed across Colorado. This year, they are excited to announce they are available across all 50 states, have released a handful of new spirits and have somehow maintained their staying power as a top whiskey contender despite the challenges from the pandemic.
It’s all about getting creative with mixology and bringing forward a flavored whiskey that is as enjoyable as a shot but holds up incredibly well in a cocktail.
We caught up with CEO Luis Gonzalez to discuss what’s been distilling over at one of the best U.S. craft distillery companies and why their flagship bourbon is a fav among whiskey savants. They recently made the list of Inside Hook’s wheated whiskies that can hold up to the legendary Pappy Van Winkle, and come at a far more affordable cost, ranging in price from $50 to $80.
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Perhaps it is because they are using four times the usual amount of malted barley in their gold-medal bourbon that elicits such a smooth and well-blended spirit. Newest releases this year from the brand include a Wheat Whiskey, Wheated Bourbon and Rye Whiskey that have all received accolades from the spirits community both in Colorado and beyond.
“One of the great things we have also seen this year is the expansion of our single barrel program,” says Gonzalez. This gives customers the chance to buy their own cask-strength barrel of select whiskeys, which are available within only two months, about half the time of the industry standard.
ICONIC’s “quarantini” cocktail story revealed a series of crafty concoctions you can make at home, including a floral-infused bourbon drink from Old Elk Distillery that we can’t get enough of. Their experimental approach to flavor has led them to release a PB&W: Peanut Butter Flavored Whiskey, which happens to taste fantastic with their Nooku Bourbon Cream. They also recently debuted their flavored whiskey company Whiskeysmith Co. to continue their focus on building a house of brands. Think whiskey infused with pineapple, chocolate or banana and then crafted into custom cocktails.
They distributed to first responders across Colorado, to children hospitals and to police officers while also keeping their entire team in place so as not lay any one off during the pandemic.
“It’s all about getting creative with mixology and bringing forward a flavored whiskey that is as enjoyable as a shot but holds up incredibly well in a cocktail,” says Gonzalez of the best craft distilleries in the U.S. Old Elk Distillery not only makes some of the best full-bodied bourbon, but they continue to be an advocate for women in the whiskey business. Their head distiller Kate Douglas works directly with Old Elk’s Master Distiller Greg Metze and happens to be one of the youngest female distillers in the industry, even participating in the Bourbon Women’s SIP Summer Series.
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Gonzalez recalls this motto learned from the Richardson family. “When COVID happened, we saw an opportunity to give back. So, we shut down regular operations and began making hand sanitizer.” They distributed to first responders across Colorado, to children hospitals and to police officers while also keeping their entire team in place so as not lay any one off during the pandemic. “We have had a challenging year like everyone else, but we felt we had the opportunity to answer the call to help,” shares Gonzalez.
Whether it’s distilling some of the smoothest spirits in the game or uplifting their communities when hard times hit, Old Elk Distillery continues to be a favorite on our shelves.