Four years ago, Family Jones distiller Rob Masters was filling barrels with his distillery's first rye whiskey when a friend and co-worker pointed out that it was Inauguration Day. "I started thinking that I should sit on a barrel for a while," Masters recalls.
Four years later, you'll be able to taste the result: Inauguration Rye is now on sale on the Family Jones website, and it will be bottled and handed out on January 20, 2021, the day that President-elect Joe Biden takes his oath of office.
The Family Jones Spirit House didn't open its distillery/restaurant at 3245 Osage Street until November 2017, but the company had already opened its main production facility in Loveland, so a small amount of rye has been in barrels for a full four years. That's the amount of time required if a distillery wants to label its whiskey "bottled in bond," Masters points out — and it's the same length as a presidential term, making Family Jones Inaugural Rye the perfect choice for the distillery's first bottled-in-bond spirit.
Masters adds that a whiskey must meet several other requirements to earn bottled-in-bond status: It must be made by a single distiller from whiskey made in a single season, aged in a government-bonded warehouse and bottled at at least 100 proof (50 percent alcohol by volume). Additionally, Inauguration Rye is a straight rye, so it had to be made with at least 51 percent rye and be aged in oak barrels for at least two years with no additives. This rye far surpasses those regulations, as its grain bill comprises 75 percent rye from Colorado Stock & Grain plus 15 percent corn and 10 percent malted barley from Jones Farms Organics and Root Shoot Malting.
"I love making rye, particularly Colorado rye," the distiller adds. "We've only ever bought our rye from four Colorado farms. Rye is a lot harder to make, but the flavors created are more delicate compared to bourbon."
The presidential connection and the history of rye whiskey in America are intertwined; Masters points out that George Washington was a rye distiller. He says that Inauguration Rye wasn't intended as a political statement, since the idea was born years before the current election results, and he hopes to make an Inauguration Day release a regular occurrence, with possibly even an eight-year-old rye in the future.
Only 380 bottles of Inauguration Rye will be filled, so there's a limit of two bottles per person. They'll set you back $80 each, and Masters says he expects the run to sell out quickly. Once you make your purchase, you'll be able to pick up your rye at the LoHi distillery beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 20.
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