When the going gets tough, drink whisky! Little did local Spirt Hound Distillers know that it would be hit by two major disasters when it began in 2012. Their original plan was to make a true, all-malt, 100-percent Colorado whisky made from scratch that would age undisturbed in 53-gallon American oak barrels for at least two years, which would become the cornerstone of the emerging distillery’s reputation.
First, the disastrous 2013 flood hit their St. Vrain River-side facility, causing destruction and loss. The flood waters threatened Spirit Hound’s six original whisky barrels and damaged the distillery’s hand-built-from-scratch stills. Co-owner Craig Engelhorn can still point to the mud on the original barrels. But the owners not only successfully reopened, but went on to raise $10,000 for the Lyons Fire Department, which was put toward the cost of a new building. Also, the head distiller at that time, Craig Engelhorn, joined Lyons Volunteers and help dig out many muddy basements in town.
“At the time of the flood, we had produced our first barrel of Barrel Aged Rum,” said Wayne Anderson, co-owner. “The Rum is made with traditional Caribbean molasses, cane sugar and a traditional yeast. Aged in one of our used Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel. The rum barrel was sitting on the floor of the distillery during the flood and ended up floating around the room a bit. When we cracked it open, we discovered that the rum barrel had not been breached and the product was very tasty. We decided to bottle and sell all of the bottles of ‘flood rum’ as a fund raiser for the Lyons Fire Protection district. We did raise and contribute 10,000 to the construction of the new firehouse. Some bottles went for as much as $1,500.”
In spring of 2020, the people at Spirit Hound again showed the Lyons Strong spirit and changed their operations to crafting and packaging hand sanitizers to distribute to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The business again suffered weeks of loss because of state COVID-19 restrictions on what bars and restaurants could open, how many people could be served, what time liquor service had to end, and closing tasting rooms.
Through all this, Spirit Hound has been working on its pride and joy and will be releasing limited quantities of Straight Malt Whisky from the original Barrel #1 throughout a two-day celebration on the seventh anniversary of the 2013 flood. The all-malt recipe is made with Colorado-grown malted barley and a dash of peat-smoked malt barley, all grown and malted in small batches by the Colorado Malting Company in Alamosa, Colorado. Aged more than two years in new, fully charred American oak barrels before being bottled in an unblended “single-barrel” fashion. Both 750 ml bottles, with special packaging, and a limited number of individual tasters will be available.
Stop by on Saturday or Sunday, September 12 or 13, from 12 noon to 8 p.m. and help celebrate. More information on presale, or contactless curbside pick-up, or to-go pours can be found on their web site. Social distancing rules and mask wearing will be adhered to. There will be food trucks on the site. Shake hands of these Lyons Strong Spirit Hound friends and business partners: Craig Engelhorn, Wayne Anderson, Matt Rooney and Neil Sullivan.
Link to presales of Barrel 1