Myself and the rest of the Laws Whiskey House Village are very proud to announce the 2021 releases of our Bonded Four Grain Bourbon and Bonded San Luis Valley Rye. Both whiskies have aged over six years and will be available in key markets across the country starting in March 2020. With the annual release of these two special expressions upon us, we thought we would give you a deeper dive into these whiskeys and what makes them special.
The 2021 Bonded Releases
Laws Bonded 6yr Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Batch #4
This is our fourth release of the Bonded 6 year Four Grain Bourbon. It consists of 25 barrels hand-picked by our Barrel Manager, James Kunz and myself. The individual barrels that make up the community of the batch spent an average age of 6 years, 7 months in a char #3 American oak barrel with all the barrels having been filled in the spring season (Jan to Jun) of 2014 spread from February through mid-June.
What you can expect from Laws Batch #4 Bonded 6-yr Four Grain are the classic flavors of the four American mother grains melded into every Laws Four Grain Whiskey. Barrel influence is clearly front and center as are the distinctive layered complex grains flavors indicative of all our whiskeys. The nose is dominated by barrels notes: vanilla, cherry, apple, graham cracker and a little clove. The taste evolves from the first sip to the last with honey, apple crumble, orange, black tea, marzipan and cinnamon. We think that the distinguishing aspects of batch #4 stem from the pleasantly sweet and viscous mouth coating is followed by a long dry orange pith and oak chip finish.
Laws Bonded San Luis Valley Straight Rye Whiskey – Batch #2
This, our second release of Bonded 6yr San Luis Valley Straight Rye, was produced in the fall season of 2014. All the barrels were filled in October and November with an average age at harvest of 6 years 1 month. This batch contained 26 53-gallon barrels and filled just over 500 9-L cases. A fan favorite of many in the Laws Whiskey village, this is a distinctive, unapologetic rye.
Expectations will be heightened as it is poured into your tasting glass. The aroma is instantly fruity, minty and slightly smoky. A deeper draw brings caramel apple at the fair and honey suckle. The first taste is a flavor explosion that calms down on second approach. Salted caramel, salted caramel, salted caramel! The classic rye cracked pepper notes are set aside for a more pleasant radiant serrano or habanero pepper notes while the anise is balanced by a smooth mint. At 100 proof the bite is subdued, perhaps even the opposite: smooth and creamy. The grain flavors continue to dominate the finish even after 6 years in heavily charred barrels. This heirloom rye grain always punches above its weight.
Our Bottled in Bond Journey
The team here at Laws Whiskey House has been focused on producing Bonded whiskey for many years now with Bonded whiskey now a foundational part of our story. We began making whiskey in 2011 and sold our first bottle in the fall of 2014. Embracing our “No Shortcuts” philosophy we recognized the importance of time in the whiskey making process and, in the fall of 2016, we released our 4 year Bonded Four Grain Bourbon which was the first bonded bourbon in the state of Colorado as well as the first bonded Four Grain Bourbon in the country. A few months later in March of 2017, our four-year-old Bonded Rye hit shelves to become the first bonded rye whiskey in Colorado history. This whiskey went on to be recognized as the World’s Best Rye at the 2017 World Whiskey Awards among many other accolades.
We like to think of the ongoing Laws Bonded whiskey story as a journey. While we began with 4-year Bonded expressions that met the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, our journey continues to progress with the age profile moving to 6 years for both our Bourbon and Rye expressions and further evolution likely as we mature as a company and the whiskey reaches new heights. With our current inventory of over 3,000 53 gallon barrels, you can rest assured we’ve got a few more ideas left to explore. Raising the bar on our craft and on ourselves is a daily affirmation at Laws Whiskey.
In addition to the renowned Bonded Four Grain Bourbon and Bonded San Luis Valley Rye, we also produce a Bonded Centennial Wheat Whiskey (with second release on the immediate horizon in 2021), a Bonded Henry Road Malt Whiskey as well as a Bonded Two Grain Bourbon and a Bonded Corn whiskey. Bottled in Bond will continue to be a lead mark in the Laws Whiskey portfolio in years to come.
So What is a Bonded Whiskey?
Bonded whiskeys are whiskeys produced under the rigorous standards of the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. Back then, buying a Bonded whiskey meant that you were buying a whiskey produced under US government supervision which ensure certain standards were met. You were getting authentic whiskey as the production standards were very strict and succinct with no deviations. This was in contrast to highly adulterated or fake spirits of the time made to appear like whiskey, the consumption of which had considerable negative health impacts. Enter the US Federal Government to keep the imbibing public safe (oh, and to protect their substantial tax revenue from illegal/counterfeit whiskey sales).
The standards set forth in the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 cover the full process from distillation, to aging, and bottling. As prescribed in the act, Bonded whiskey has to be produced in one of two seasons (Jan to Jun or Jul to Dec), by a single distillery or DSP (Distilled Spirits Plant, i.e. a federal license to produce), aged for a minimum of 4 years in a new charred oak container in a bonded warehouse supervised by the US government. When bottled, nothing can be added but water to achieve the mandated 100 proof level (50% alc./vol) of the final product.
So, lots of rules in Bonded whiskey all which preserve the integrity and authenticity of what is in the bottle. This is what attracts us to making Bonded whiskeys. If our whiskey is “Bonded” we had to have made it, made it to strict standards and we stand accountable. With so many brands sourcing whiskey from larger players and bottling it as their own (a practice we have not and will not pursue), we see Bonded whiskey is a significant point of differentiation in our “There Are No Shortcuts” philosophy.
If our whiskey is “Bonded” we had to have made it, made it to strict standards and stand accountable.
While several of the Bonded regulations are more procedural in nature, we find the single season limitation most interesting as it essentially leads us make whiskey from the grain of a single harvest given our specific Colorado family farm sourcing practices. This “vintage” is one of the more unique aspects we enjoy exploring in our terroir heavy whiskies. Our San Luis Valley Straight Rye Whiskey probably has the greatest vintage/terroir affects given its very high rye content (95% rye and 5% barley mashbill) combined with an heirloom varietal and interesting swings in grain characteristic year to year. With that said, every one of our Bonded releases has its own character and the 2021 versions are no different.
At Laws Whiskey House, we believe that the soul of whiskey is comprised of the people who grow it, the people who make it, and the people who drink. And good whiskey, like a good story, is meant to be shared. We hope you enjoy these two special whiskeys as much as we do and thanks for coming along our journey.
Founder, Laws Whiskey House
To stay informed about the latest news and releases from Laws Whiskey House, enter your email in the from below this post.