Jake Norris' Operation Gargoyle unveiled as Laws Whiskey House

"You guys are the first people outside the distillery to drink the whiskey and the first outside the distillery to hear the name," says Jake Norris speaking during the DSTILL Whiskey Workshop at Ste. Ellie on the night of March 12.

Norris, first Head Distiller at Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey, left Stranahan's in 2011. Since then he, investor and owner Alan Laws, and the team of Stephen Julander, Alex Alexander and Jason Mann have been operating under the guise of Operation Gargoyle as Norris says, "To ward off evil spirits."

"The name of the distillery is Laws Whiskey House," Norris says. He explains, "It's the last name of Al Laws, the extraordinarily passionate person that gave me the opportunity to make whiskey. The name of the whiskey is A.D. Laws Four-Grain Bourbon."

Four-grain bourbons, which contain a blend of corn, rye, barley and wheat, are particularly difficult to make, according to Norris. He only knows of one other distillery that is making it, Tuthilltown Spirits out of Gardiner, N.Y., makers of Hudson Whiskeys. Tuthilltown distiller and brand ambassador Gable Erenzo, was also at the event.

The new whiskey isn't ready for public release -- yet. "We're going to release the whiskey sometime late summer," Norris explains. "I'm expecting that rye note to get a certain tone. It's going to manifest itself in a very particular way at which point we will release the whiskey."

Still, it's already a lovely -- if young -- whiskey with a taste that lingers on the tongue. It reveals itself in complex notes tinged with toffee and already hints of the spicy rye notes that Norris anticipates will soon increase their presence in the liquor.

Norris has kept the project largely under wraps for a while now, but insists it was partly for the purity of the project. "It was about doing this right from the beginning. Zero compromise, zero cheating and lying, we had nothing to hide," he says. "Everything we do is completely honest, completely above board, no sourcing no NGS [i.e., neutral grain spirits], no buying other people's shit and labeling it."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Read more articles by Chris Meehan.

Chris is a Denver-based freelance writer, editor and communications specialist. He covers sustainability, social issues and other topics.
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