No one will forget the historic floods that ravaged Colorado's Front Range in 2013 — particularly not the owners of Spirit Hound Distillers in Lyons, where three feet of water inundated the distillery that year. But at least one good thing came of the floods: Spirit Hound is celebrating the release of a 90-proof, straight malt whisky — or "flood-proof" whisky, as co-owner Craig Englehorn likes to call it — that was made before the floods hit and put into barrels that year.
“The flood water itself just barely touched two of our barrels that were filled at the time, but the humidity, aromas, and environment of any whisky barrel affect the character of the liquid inside, so I'm sure that the flood had some impact on the whisky," says Engelhorn. "Thankfully, the whisky tastes far better than flood water.”
Whisky lovers take note and get it while you can. The company only has five 53-gallon barrels of the stuff, or approximately 1,500 bottles, and there won't be any more of this spirit coming out of the distillery until early 2016. Each bottle comes straight from the barrel the spirit was aged in. Turns out, the reason for the drop in inventory was caused by the same natural disaster that makes this vintage so special. Because of the damage the flood inflicted to their built-from-scratch stills, Spirit Hound had to place their production on hold for about six months.
To obtain the first of this coveted tipple, head to the distillery's release party on August 22 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Guests will only be allowed one bottle of Straight Malt Whisky ($65) per person during the event. After that, any remaining bottles will only be sold at the the distillery.
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The recipe for this particular whisky comprises Colorado-grown malted barley and a pinch of peat-smoked malted barely to give it a campfire depth. According Engelhorn, the flavor of proves buttery and smooth with a soft and light sweetness to the finish.
“We made it with a small amount of peated malt, and that’s unique in the Colorado whisky market," he notes. "Overall, our straight malt whisky isn’t designed to be a sledgehammer of flavors, it’s delicate and refined, and it's character reflects our intention to produce Colorado whisky of very high quality.”
"The flood has been such a monumental event in our lives and our distillery," Englehorn adds. "We could all literally be gone if things had gone just a little bit differently and the fact that we’re still here, the whisky is here and we’re around to drink it, that’s very special for us.”