This Saturday, March 12, Boulder Spirits at Vapor Distillery will hold a special, on-site release of a limited-run whiskey benefitting the Community Foundation of Boulder County‘s catastrophe fund. Limited to 500 bottles, the release was hand-selected and bottled by a group that included the City of Boulder’s Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Long, Wildland Division Chief Brian Oliver and Incident Commander of the Marshall Fire Mike Smith. Each bottle is priced at $125 and includes a commemorative t-shirt, a complimentary onsite pour and a $10 off coupon for future visits. All net proceeds — with a hoped-for goal of $45,000 — will be donated directly to the wildfire fund.
The project was initially envisioned by marketing director Ryan Negley, who — along with owner Alastair Brogan — felt that the distillery had a responsibility to contribute whatever it could to the thousands of victims who had been displaced by the blaze. “We sat down thinking, what can we do?” said Brogan. “We’re rich in whiskey and poor in cash,” he continued. Ultimately the duo decided that a special bottle of American Single Malt would be selected by both the fire team and a set of spirits and culinary consultants that included chef Hosea Rosenberg, 5280 Whiskey Society chairman Nate Winegar, Women Who Whiskey Colorado chairwoman Elisabeth Mansfield, Whiskey With a View’s Nate Woodruff and First Bite and Boulder County Restaurant Week’s Jessica Benjamin. The result is some seriously good juice, perhaps one of the best expressions to come out of a growing line that includes a range of single malts and bourbons as well as gin, vodka and a stellar coffee liqueur. While Brogan initially began producing spirits as a hobby in 2015, it didn’t take on for the Scotland-born enthusiast to become one of the Front Range’s more compelling forces in the production of top-tier whiskey.
Long — who has worked 39 years in emergency services, 27 of which were on the Boulder Fire Department — was attracted to the project both as a whiskey aficionado and out of a sense of duty. Despite his position, he had to commit much of his attention during the catastrophe towards quelling local would-be disasters.
“We were minutes away from a couple of the same things happening in Boulder,” he said. “If we were even five minutes slower, those fires would have run through the city. We had a big threat here that we had to protect,” he continued. “It was almost survivor’s guilt that I couldn’t be a part of that. This is not normally what I give, but this is what I could give,” he said of his contribution to both the decision-making process and the bottling, completed on Friday, March 4. Long was on-site at Vapor, labeling and boxing the completed batch.
Buyers can either pre-order the bottle online for direct pickup or purchase at the distillery on Saturday when it is released at 3 p.m., assuming it is not sold out in advance. Bottles will be made available at 3 p.m., in what will likely become an on-site celebration of a community doing whatever it can to remain resilient.
Vapor Distillery is located at 311 Western Ave. #180, Boulder. It is open Monday – Saturday from 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
The release will take place on Saturday, March 12 at 3 p.m.
Pre-orders will be available from the website beginning Thursday, March 1o at 12 p.m.
All photography by Kori Hazel.