Laws Whiskey House is a grain-to-glass distillery in Denver, Colorado. They are known for taking a no shortcuts approach to creating quality whiskeys. They have an extensive line of whiskeys honed over a decade of fine-tuning their craft and process. They feature heirloom grains, grown for their distinctive and delicious flavors unique to the state of Colorado.
While Laws sticks to traditional production techniques, the distillery also pushes the envelope when it comes to formulating new and innovative expressions. When we were there in October, they were hard at work experimenting with a wide variety of different whiskeys and finishes. Some we’d seen before, but others we had never even thought of and were as delicious as they were unique. And, when Laws feels one of these unique expressions has met their high standards, we are blessed with another entry into their Experiential Series.
The Experiential Series
Laws focuses on harnessing the flavor of America’s Four Mother Grains: corn, wheat, barley, and rye. While their main line of whiskeys highlight these grains individually or in a blend, they find that there are complexities that can be further explored through secondary aging. These explorations pave the way to new and limited releases that are under a line called the “Experiential Series.”
Laws has released some killer options in the past. Entries like their Four Grain Bourbon finished in honey casks, San Luis Valley Rye finished in Sauterne casks, and a Straight Wheat Whiskey finished in Curacao casks have offered enthusiasts insight into just how much flavor can evolve during secondary aging.
Now, Laws has released the next expression in a long line of great offerings: a Cognac finished bourbon.
Cognac Finished Bourbon
This expression is the first release of a “living and evolving” annual blend. Over the last several years, Laws has created a distinctive solera process where they can release just a portion of the aging whiskey while leaving the rest to mature and evolve for future releases.
This whiskey starts its life as Laws’ flagship Four Grain Straight Bourbon. Then, barrels are selected specially to be aged a second time in 205L and 400L Cognac casks. After a period of time in Cognac casks, whiskey is harvested and married together in a 50-year-old French oak blending vat called a “foeder” for another period of maturation and finishing. Only a portion of this blend will be released each year, allowing enthusiasts to try this blend as it evolves and ages over the coming years.
“We love not only the taste and end result of this whiskey, but also the intricate process it takes to get here. That’s why we turned to Cognac for inspiration. Cognac producers are masters of the blending process, creating some of the most amazing styles and depths of flavor with their techniques.
We needed something that would softly add to the flavor and continue to promote maturation. It’s easy to source stainless steel tanks, but we knew this wouldn’t add to the flavor of the whiskey and enhance the process like an organic vessel would.”Al Laws, Founder of Laws Whiskey House
So, How Is It?
In short, it’s really good. But, when have you all ever known me to be short-winded?
There is a beautiful balance within Laws’ Four Grain Bourbon that I was afraid would be overshadowed by the Cognac. But, that wasn’t the case at all. If anything, it added another dimension to that balance and added some beautiful fruit notes that layered depth and character to the natural sweetness of their bourbon. It was surprising just how delicate the effect on the base spirit was, yet, how much it added additional complexity and depth.
The Cognac finish here isn’t a gimmick. I’ve seen and tried many cognac whiskeys that allow the cognac flavor to become the dominant feature and overwhelm the natural flavors of the whiskey. However, here it’s very intentional and very purposed. It’s being used to enhance, not overtake. The time and attention to detail in the finishing process lends itself beautifully to the big, bold, and naturally sweet character of the Four Grain Bourbon.
Quite simply, in hundreds of bottles, I can’t say I’ve had anything quite like it.
Okay, So How Do I Get It?
You can head to Laws Whiskey House website to get yourself a bottle. And, while you’re there, check out their other expressions, and don’t forget to sign up for their mailing list! It’ll keep you up to date on all the latest and greatest coming from the distillery.
They also have a great holiday pack featuring four of their whiskeys you can grab to give their core line a try!
Greg Sinadinos started his spirits journey writing a whiskey periodical for Fine Tobacco NYC Magazine. He began answering review requests under a social media page he named “Whiskey Culture,” which quickly merged with Greg’s passion for connecting with others and his interest in history.
Today, Greg travels the country not just looking for great whiskey, but also exploring the history and individuals that the whiskey community is founded upon. He has authored “Whiskey History From Around The World” and is the host of “The Rickhouse” web series.