Lately, Longmont has been winning at the booze game, and Longtucky Spirits, at 350 Terry Street, is the latest player. Owned by John Abbott Young and Howard K. Wallace, this 4,500-square-foot distillery and cocktail bar opened in late June in the former home of the Longmont Times-Call downtown. The owners' idea behind the distillery is to make craft liquors utilizing grains grown along the Front Range, water from Longs Peak snowmelt and as many locally harvested plants as possible.
“Agriculture is such an important part of our town,” notes Young. “We want to build on that history by making craft spirits with ingredients local to our community.”
The name of the distillery also speaks to the time when Longmont was mostly an agricultural community, earning comparisons to Kentucky from Boulder's more urbane population. (Based on our recent farmers' market romp, farming is still important in Longmont, a fact residents are proud of.)
"Longtucky is an old slang term for Longmont, thanks to our friends in Boulder, as in: 'Those farmers out in Longtucky," adds Young. "Today Longmont is a fun, thriving community, so we decided to embrace the nickname and turn it into a positive image. We're also from the South, so the name is perfect."
Both owners hail from Florida and came to Colorado to get into the beer industry. Young has since spent time as a brewer at Avery Brewing Company and Wallace as the cellar master at Upslope Brewing Company. Young got into the distilling business while he was brewing beer because his best friend and business partner started a pot-still welding business with Charles "Ted" Palmer, who owns Vapor Distillery in Boulder, a place where Wallace served as the bar manager. Through this relationship, Young ended up learning the nuances of distillation — and a drive to make his own spirits was born.
"That's when beer literally turned into whiskey," says Young.
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Currently the distillery offers four spirits: Silver, a light rum made with Colorado sugar beets and organic molasses from Florida; Shine, a type of corn whiskey made with grains grown nearby; Fire, the same corn whiskey, but enhanced with cinnamon and ginger; and Alpine Dry Gin, the latest tipple flavored with locally grown juniper. Coming soon is a spiced rum and, in the distant future, a single malt whiskey.
Thanks to a large glass window behind the bar, guests of the seventy-seat Longtucky Lounge can see a glimpse into the distillery and the 100-gallon copper stills that Wallace built himself. In fact, those same seats on which patrons are perched were also built by hand — from the staves of recycled whiskey barrels — by Wallace and Young. Enjoy the view while sipping a classic martini, mojito or Old Fashioned; then go see the operation firsthand by taking one of the daily public tours at 5 p.m. Not only can you see the production in action, but you can sample the products as you learn about them.
Longtucky Spirits is located at 350 Terry Street, Suite 120, in Longmont. The lounge is open Monday through Wednesday from 4 to 10 p.m., Thursday from 4 to 11 p.m., Friday from 2 to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Call the distillery at 720-545-2017 or go to the Longtucky Spirits website for more information.