In March, Mary and Pat Scanlan and Mark Kleckner of Woody Creek Distillers opened the doors of their 10,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art distillery and tasting room in Basalt, unveiling five ultra-premium American spirits, each distilled and bottled in the Aspen Valley using spring water from Basalt and locally grown produce from the Scanlan Family Farm.
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There are two very special things about this distillery: Woody Creek is outfitted with a custom, incredibly efficient Christian Carl Still distilling system, which allows the spirits to be single-distilled, meaning they only need one pass through the system to create the purest vodka base of ethanol possible. And second, Woody Creek is the first and only craft distillery in the United States with total control over every element of vodka production: growing its own alpine potatoes and sourcing mountain spring water to produce its spirits.
Woody Creek currently has two spirits available: a signature Potato Vodka and Stobrawa (a varietal of Polish potato) Seasonal Potato Vodka. Soon it will release three more specialty spirits, including Gin, Apple Brandy and Pear Eau de Vie. The fruit is sourced from local growers in nearby Paonia.
"We are thrilled to bring Woody Creek Distillers, the first craft distillery of its kind, to the United States," says CEO Mary Scanlan. "The renaissance of American spirits is under way and we hope to lead the revival. Our distillery and spirits are world-class, made from the finest produce grown at 7,500 feet in the Aspen Valley."
And Woody Creek seems to be just starting to scratch the surface -- with the oversight of distillery manager David Matthews, the distillery has been gearing up to make Olathe Corn Whiskey and Bourbon, too. The Whiskey and Bourbon, which will be aged in American White Oak barrels, are slated for release sometime in 2015.
Although Basalt is a hefty three-hour drive from Denver, Woody Creek Distillers' tasting room is open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, with tours of the facility available by appointment. The bar/lounge is tended from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturdays.
"We've worked hard to ensure our vodkas and specialty spirits are the very best," says CFO/COO Mark Kleckner. "The distillery is running at full tilt, and every day we're processing our own potatoes or what is grown by local farmers we know and trust. We want to showcase the incredible quality of our neighboring Colorado farms in each and every bottle of Woody Creek Distillers spirits. To be honest, we're control freaks, and we think our quest for perfection shows in everything we do from seed to sip."
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If you're interested in Woody Creek Distiller's process, you can follow its blog Still Life, which documents product development and distillery news.