Drink it for the bees, and because Nectar Jones honey liqueur from The Family Jones tastes like you're sipping on sunshine-tipped honey blossoms with a boozy kick. "Nectar Jones was created from 150 gallons of honey featured in an exhibition by art activist Kristen Hatgi Sink at the MCA Denver," says master distiller Rob Masters, who adds that proceeds from the liqueur will go to support bees and the arts.
While the act of using honey to make and flavor booze isn't unusual, getting the sticky stuff from an art show doesn't happen often, if ever. Kristen Hatgi Sink: Honey was on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver in mid-2018. The crux of the show was a series of videos by the Denver-based photographer that showed honey dripping and falling over and around motionless objects and human subjects; the series was created in part to bring awareness to bees. Hatgi Sink used a lot of honey for the project, which couldn't be sold or consumed afterward. That's where the Family Jones came in, and Hatgi Sink and the MCA were happy to give them the golden substance to be processed into booze. "The honey was fine to work with," assures Masters, "and not much worse than the molasses we use for Mo Jones Rum."
"We distilled this spirit using the classic pairings of honey, orange and vanilla, then enhanced the floral character with distinct botanicals," explains Masters, who fermented 900 pounds of honey and double-distilled it. "It fermented really well, and the result was all of the complex flavors you would want from honey, minus the sweetness."
The result was Nectar Jones, which the distillery released in May 2021, approximately three years after Hatgi Sink launched her show. Aside from the actual liquor, the best part about the project is that all proceeds from the bottle sales go back to the MCA, the Colorado State Beekeepers Association and Warren Tech, a school in Lakewood that teaches about farming and the culinary arts.
“Since Kristen’s exhibit was all about the plight of bees, we wanted to pay that forward,” says Family Jones co-founder Paul Tamburello. “Without bees to pollinate the grains, our spirits could not exist, so we wanted to use the proceeds from this limited-edition honey liqueur to first give back to the artist community who brought this conversation to light, and secondly to support organizations who are helping to make a positive impact on our fragile bee population.”
Everyone involved agrees that the final product came out great, and the background story makes the whole of Nectar Jones even better. Masters suggests using the liquor to make cocktails or simply sipping it neat or on the rocks. Keep in mind that only 290 bottles were made — and unless Hatgi Sink does another art project with tons of honey, it won't be at the bar again.
Nectar Jones is available to purchase for $36 per bottle at the Family Jones Spirit House, 3245 Osage Street.
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