“Bourbon is life. I like the sweetness, the bite, and the burn.”
Spoken like a true bourbon gentleman. I must say that is exactly who I met when I interviewed Al Laws of Laws Whiskey House. Let’s talk about Al for a bit, because to get to know him is to get to know his bourbon a little better.
“I’ve tasted a lot of bourbon—some good, some great, and some that need to go back to school. But one thing I can say about Law’s Bourbon is you can tell from the first sniff there is passion in that bottle.”
One might think Al grew up in the motherland of bourbon (AKA Kentucky) or worked in the distilling industry for years. Not at all! Al grew up in Edmonton, Canada and was an oil and gas analyst (this might explain his affinity for the brown stuff—he has a collection of a few hundred…okay, several hundred bottles of all sorts of whiskeys). If you know any analyst, you know one thing they are: thorough…very. Praise Jesus! That’s good news for you and me.
Al takes his new profession as serious as he did his previous one. He befriended and enlisted the help of Bill Friel to help him with his whiskey. Who is that, you ask?
“Bill is one of the few living Bourbon Hall of Famers who also happened to be the master distiller at Barton’s. Meaning, he’s forgotten more about whiskey and bourbon than you and I will probably ever know.”
Bill taught him some old world techniques like open air fermentation, grinding their own grains, and monitoring the grist. Al and his distiller, Jake Norris, take those techniques and blend them with new world ones, monitoring the fermentation, adding grains where the flavor can be maximized, and basically watching and tasting throughout the entire process.
“Laws’ is different than most bourbons on the market, mostly because it is a four-grain bourbon containing corn, barley, wheat, and rye (most other bourbons are only three grains).”
As far as I know, there is only one other four-grain bourbon and it’s out of New York, Hudson’s Small Batch. Next time you’re out, ask for Laws’ and for Hudson’s Small Batch (it’s the one in the short, squatty bottle) and taste them side by side to see what nuances you pick up. There’s more than meets the still when you use four grains—or three for that matter. You have to know how to blend them together and ferment them well to get a quality product.
It’s time to talk about this delicious bourbon. Where do I start? How about the color?
“A beautiful dark amber color that sits in a square bottle almost beckoning you to open it and just smell it. And when you do, you are greeted with a deep caramel and vanilla scent with some heat behind it (remember to part your lips slightly when you smell any spirit…less you burn your nostrils from the 95% proof delicious liquid).”
Take another whiff, it’s worth it. Let your mind take in the scent so you can remember it.
Now, it’s time to taste it. Try it neat first, no water, no ice, just splashed in a glass to start.
“Bam! The deep caramel I smelled is front and center; I got some welcome heat and a great vanilla with a slight bit of cherry flavor too.”
I know it sounds sweet—well, because bourbon is sweet as far as spirits go, but it’s a wonderful balance of the caramel and the flavor from the oak and plenty of heat, but not too much. Now, add a drop of distilled water (always distilled, please, if at all possible)—it opens up the flavors even more.
This has to be one of the most enjoyable bourbons I’ve had in a long time. But, just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a small army to make bourbon this good. A testament to Al, and sharing his love of bourbon, he was adamant I called out his employees, as he says,
“I couldn’t do this by myself.” Kudos go out to Jake Norris, Alex Alexander, Stephen Julander, Jason Mann, and Sam Poirer for their very important roles in making Laws’ Bourbon. Thank you, gentlemen; your work is quite admirable.
But wait! There’s more! This summer Laws’ will release their rye whiskey. I love rye, it’s a little earthier than it’s big sister and just as delicious.
Laws’ Bourbon can be found at most major retailers and restaurants in the Denver/Boulder area. Check out their website, http://www.lawswhiskeyhouse.com, to find out where you can buy it and who will ship it to you, assuming your state allows alcohol delivery. You can also find out about their tours and more on the process of how they make their bourbon.
When you pick up a bottle of Laws’, notice their logo—it’s a combination of the infinity sign and the sign for process.
“A true testament to a bourbon that will ever evolve, infinite in its history both old and new, respecting time-honored processes.”