Sean Kenyon knows how to pour out both drinks and advice. A third-generation bar man with almost 25 years behind the bar, he is a student of cocktail history, a United States Bartenders Guild-certified Spirits Professional and a BAR Ready graduate of the prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource Program. You can find him here most weeks, where he'll answer your questions. But right now, he wants to introduce you to one of the distillers involved in the Colorado Cocktail Contest contestant.
We've already profiled many of the bartenders competing in the Colorado Cocktail Project, with its mission of creating the official Colorado Cocktail. Now we're profiling the Colorado distillers whose spirits will be featured at the Colorado Cocktail Project, June 26-27 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
Today, Roundhouse Spirits' Ted Palmer tells us how about making whiskey at sixteen and Thomas the Train.
Ted Palmer Roundhouse Spirits
Distilling since: October 2009
How and when did you get into distilling?
I got started at a very young age of ten. My grandfather taught me how to make malt on the back porch. By the time I was sixteen, I had made my first still and was making corn-meal whiskey and some fruit brandies. While stationed in Saudi Arabia with the Navy, I was making wine for my shipmates and was told that I should make booze for a living. So I did just that! I got my brewing degree from Seibel Institute and have been a brewer for over sixteen years -- until the distilling revolution began. I've been happily distilling ever since.
What products do you currently offer?
Roundhouse Gin -- gold medal winner!!! Imperial Barrel Aged Gin Corretto Coffee Liqueur, made with Unseen Bean's coffee. Tatanka Blue Agave Spirits
What is your favorite spirit to make? Why?
That's like asking a parent who their favorite child is!!
Any exciting things you are working on for the future?
The Agave spirit is just about ready for prime-time and will be in blanco, reposado and anejo versions.
What is your outlook on the Colorado distilling scene? Where is it headed and why?
That's hard to say. There are so many new distilleries popping up that there could be a crash or a tidal wave of great products. Only time will tell where the angel's share will go.
What makes your product distinctly Colorado?
I do! My family has been in this great state for generations and will continue to be for many more, I am sure.
Tell us a little bit about the Roundhouse name.
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A roundhouse can be a kick, a type of house like a tepee or the space house up off of I-70. But what Roundhouse is in our case is a garage for trains. Trains motor into the center of the building, turn on a lazy susan-like turntable and are then backed into a parking spot. If you have ever seen "Thomas the Train," you'll know that is where all the trains love to go, because they can see each other's face and talk. It is where trains go to socialize and drink cocktails!
We've heard good things about your barrel-aged gin. Can you tell us a little about it?
Imperial Gin is our gold medal-winning gin that has been aged in new American white oak barrels with a #2 char. I liken it to a cross between gin and whiskey -- or, as I call it, GINSKEY! Since it is a barrel-aged spirit, it is in limited supply, in fact, there were only 100 bottles in the first batch and there will only be 100 cases made this year.