Last month, we shared the news that the former Kitty's South adult theater had been purchased with the goal of turning the 100-year-old building at 119 South Broadway into Archetype Distilling. The redevelopment of the building is now under way, and artist renderings have given us a glimpse into what the distillery will look like when construction is complete. But we were curious about the spirits that Archetype will produce, so we talked to two of the partners in the new enterprise, Michael Chapyak and Wade Murphy, about their plans.
The two say that the initial offerings will be gin and vodka. "I've never been a brown-liquor guy," says Chapyak, explaining why he won't be making whiskey. Instead, Archetype's gin and vodka will be grape-based, less common than grain-based versions.
In addition to taking classes at Moonshine University (an unlikely name for one of the top distilling schools in the country), trips to London to study gin have helped shape the recipe for Archetype's own version. Chapyak says the gin will be "smooth — dry, but not overly dry."
"It's not a heavy-juniper gin," Murphy adds. "But legally, you have to have juniper in it to call it gin."
Murphy also notes that the recipe takes a little inspiration from Dutch jenever, the original juniper-based spirit, which he points out was also primarily grape-based. Once production begins, the two also hope to add silver rum and a silver agave-based spirit. Of course, everything must be approved at the state and federal level before distilling can begin and before any new recipes are added, something that adds to the planning time when opening a distillery, as well as to flexibility once open.
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For the distillery space itself, Murphy and Chapyak hope to honor the original Webber theater, which drew customers long before the place became a porn palace. "It was a community gathering place," Murphy notes, "and community is very important to our plans."
In addition to two 120-gallon stills, Archetype will have a tasting room with forty or fifty seats, a dedicated gallery space for art, and possibly a music stage, depending on final design approval. The partners also hope to have a second-floor events space for private parties.
The long-term goal for Archetype is to ramp up production to approximately 25,000 bottles a year, which means that the majority of its output will be sold outside the distillery tasting room. While Colorado's craft spirits industry has grown phenomenally since the mid-2000s, the partner feel that there's still plenty of room for newcomers. "We're really lucky in Colorado to have such a great distillers' guild," Murphy says.
And Denver drinkers are lucky to have one more option for locally made spirits coming soon.