Alex Nelson founded Roundhouse Spirits in Boulder five years ago for one primary reason: he has a penchant for gin.
"I decided to start making gin not only because it's one of my favorites, but also because gins have tremendously complex flavors and still manage to be extremely versatile in mixology," he says. "Most gin contains spices and herbs from around the world, so it's a truly modern spirit for a global age."
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"Still," he points out, "the juniper berry grows right here in Boulder in the open space and mountain parks, so you can say that the gin we make literally has roots right here."
Roundhouse became Colorado's 6th licensed distillery when it opened in 2008 and it now produces three small-batch spirits: the nationally acclaimed Roundhouse Gin; an Imperial Barrel-Aged Gin; and a Corretto Coffee Liqueur.
Under the direction of Ted Palmer, who joined Roundhouse in 2009 as president and head distiller, all three are made from natural, raw botanicals (like juniper berry, coriander, and star anise) and organic ingredients, whenever possible.
Palmer's fascination with distillation began at age ten in his grandfather's garage in Denver -- and the inspiration never left him. He earned a diploma in brewing sciences at the famed Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, and continued to brew at several breweries across the country before moving back to Colorado and joining Nelson.
As a micro-distillery, Roundhouse makes its spirits, using a hand grinder, a Spanish copper still, and American Oak barrels.
Roundhouse's gin is a New Western Gin, started with 100 percent corn neutral grain spirit, which is re-distilled with eleven certified organic botanicals, including juniper berry, orange peel, sencha green tea, lavender, and chamomile. The Imperial Barrel-Aged Gin is more like a gin and whiskey hybrid; aged for ten or more months in new American Oak barrels, and imparting a golden brown color.
The Correto Coffee Liqueur packs a punch, starting with organic free-trade beans selected by blind roaster Gerry Leary at The Unseen Bean, which are roasted just ten blocks from the distillery. Palmer then makes the coffee using a cold toddy process, which results in a naturally sweeter taste due to its low acidity.
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Roundhouse Spirits has won numerous awards, including some from the Denver International Spirits Festival, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Their products are readily available in Denver or you can take the trip to the tasting room in Boulder, where Roundhouse offers free tours and tastings.