Mythology Distillery Created a Gin Using Ingredients From Denver Botanic Gardens

Since opening in 2018, Mythology Distillery has quickly endeared itself to liquor enthusiasts across Colorado with its distinct, critter and beard-forward iconography and award-winning spirits. In June the distillery added to its already formidable roster The Foragers Gin — a collaboration with the Denver Botanic Gardens featuring lemon verbena, chamomile and elderflower harvested directly from the York Street location.

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For founder and president Scott Yeates, the desire to open a distillery came as something of an unexpected revelation. With a career in commercial real estate dating back to 2007, Yeates had been developing two affordable housing projects a year across the metro area under his own SW Development Group since 2012. Inspiration guiding Yeates towards a career in hooch struck during a ski trip near Haines, Alaska, with the local Port Chilkoot — a favorite at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition — providing a creative blueprint for the imminent distillery.

“We were there every night. There were aspiring skiers, big mountain skiers, everyone together,” said Yeates. In a few short years, Mythology has attracted similar attention in San Francisco, with additional recognition at the New York International Spirits Competition, the Las Vegas Global Spirit Awards and an array of others. “Craft distilling is kind of where craft beer was in the early ’90s,” said Yeates of the creative freedom that has continued to inform the project.

Helmed by Scott Coburn — who acted as the head of production at High West for six years — the distillery now produces all its clear spirits on-site, with the whiskey being blended from several sources. “We view Scott [Coburn] as a master blender,” said Yeates. While Mythology’s line includes its own iteration of most major spirits, much of the passion has remained centered around gin and whiskey. “We view ourselves as really a whiskey and gin distillery,” continued Yeates.

The collaboration with the Botanic Gardens came naturally, stemming from a friendship shared between Yeates and horticulturist Blake Burger since both attended Colorado State University. “He’s a horticulturist, we’re distillers, let’s try to marry up the two,” said Yeates. Early discussions floated the idea of bitters, with the decision to create the gin eventually materializing as the more stirring venture. The Foragers was first soft-released in October 2019 — the initial run of 50 cases went quickly. An additional 500 cases were set for the formal release in June, with bottles still being available from both the tasting room and at liquor stores across the state. While the Mythology team was careful in developing the recipe, all harvesting operations were handled by the Gardens’ team in August 2019. “We wouldn’t want them distilling,” laughed Yeates. The Garden is currently in the process of installing signs signifying the individual gardens where ingredients were plucked from.

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Both Mythology’s standard Needle Pig Gin and The Foragers share the same large-scale ingredients — a base of 340 pounds of juniper, coriander seed and orris root were used compared with the six pounds of botanicals harvested locally. Even so, the Garden’s yield manages to define the flavor profile, with the chamomile delivering a particularly conspicuous and soothing finish. “This specific gin with its lemon notes and orange blossom notes, it’s a great summertime gin,” said Yeates. “It can make an incredible martini.”

While the distillery enjoys cooperative projects, much of the motivation is community-driven — $9,000 of The Foragers total sales are being donated directly back to the Gardens. “We like local collaboration when we also have an opportunity to give back. We don’t just collaborate to collaborate,” said Yeates. Mythology is currently available in over 250 locations in Colorado, with plans to expand to Northern California in the fall and into Chicago and Austin by Spring 2021.

The Foragers Gin generally retails for $35 – 37 and can be purchased at liquor stores across the front range.

All photography courtesy of Emily Sierra and Mythology Distillery.