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| Booze |

Rob's Mountain Gin -- and Rob Masters -- acquired by Spring44 Distilling

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In 2010, when Jeff Lindauer and Russ Wall first began scheming to turn Lindauer's Buckhorn Canyon water into craft spirits, they consulted with a private-label distilling company to come up with the formula and recipes. And by random chance, they worked with Rob Masters, who soon left that group to launch his own gin brand, Rob's Mountain Gin, in Boulder.

Now, though, as Spring44 gets ready to open a distillery in Loveland, the company has acquired Masters's brand -- and Masters himself will take over as the Chief Ethanol Savant, or head distiller.

"It's exciting," says Masters of his move. "I developed the formulas awhile ago, and when they were going to open the distillery in Loveland, I was hired as a consultant to get it up and running, but I was still keeping my own brand. But it just came to fruition, and I realized Spring44 was where I needed to be for awhile. We fell in love with each other."

The distiller says the distillery itself had a major influence on his decision. "They've been catching a little heat around town for the products not being made in Colorado," he admits. "But they made a commitment to build a really cool distillery," which should be open, he predicts, as soon as the group gets final approvals from the government. "We've been saying two weeks for two months now."

Even so, Masters is making plans for his new gig. The big still is on order, but it should arrive by July 1, he says, adding that "it's a beautiful copper still" from Vendome in Kentucky. "It's very versatile, and we can use it to make anything we want," he continues, noting that he also ordered an all-glass still. "I've been making my gin in Boulder on a little glass still, and this is a bigger version of that. It allows us to do all kinds of fun gin botanicals and some crazy vodka."

Like chokecherry, for instance, which is the flavor Masters has next in the pipeline. "We want to stick to Colorado-centric products," he explains, adding that the chokecherries he's using are grown in-state. He emphasizes, too, that the chokecherry vodka won't be cough-syrup-like or candied: "I'm going for sour cherry, not lollipop cherry."

As for Rob's Mountain Gin, Masters says it'll continue to be available, but the company hasn't worked out the details for exactly how. You can follow that development, however -- as well as other developments regarding Spring44 -- on the company's blog.

To celebrate the changes, Star Bar will host a transition party this Wednesday for Masters and the Spring44 crew, where Masters will pour cocktails featuring Rob's Mountain Gin and Spring44. "It'll be all my friends and confidants from the industry," he says. "Other distillers will be there, and we can all break bread and celebrate and introduce people to Spring44."

That party, which is also open to the public, starts at 6 p.m.

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