Root Shoot Malting debuts whiskey with homegrown Colorado grains

Since 2016, Root Shoot Malting has supplied grains to breweries and distilleries that turn its locally-grown and malted barley into craft beers and spirits. Today, the company releases a new whiskey featuring ingredients that were grown, malted and distilled on Colorado’s Front Range.

The American single-malt, Root Shoot Whiskey, marks the first in a forthcoming selection of Root Shoot Spirits that offer founder Todd Olander a chance to create his version of a grain-to-glass beverage.

“Part of our mission is to connect people to the land and where their product is coming from,” Olander said. “We wanted to be able to express the farm and the malthouse through a spirit.”

Olander’s great-great-grandfather purchased the land where the Loveland malting facility sits; his family has farmed it since 1926. Root Shoot grows about 700 acres of barley that it then kilns and roasts to various temperatures depending on local companies’ brewing and distilling needs.

When Olander decided to make an original spirit, an American single-malt seemed like a natural fit to showcase one of the farm’s premiere crops. (Olander Farm also grows alfalfa, corn and some experimental grains.) Root Shoot Whiskey utilizes 100% malted barley in the mash bill, per Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau guidelines, and features three homegrown varieties: light Munich, Munich 10, and genie pale.

Five years ago, the maltster partnered with Vapor Distillery, maker of Boulder Spirits, to produce and barrel the liquor, which drinks smooth despite being 50% alcohol content. Notes of vanilla on the nose come through with a slight cinnamon-like kick in the taste, lending a touch of sweetness to balance the spicy character.

Root Shoot continued its partnership with Vapor Distillery since that first production run and Olander promises there’s more where that came from.

“This is the smallest run by far,” he said. “We started out with 10 barrels. We have more than 100 barrels that will be released over the next five years.”

Drinkers can find Root Shoot Whiskey in Colorado liquor stores as of Monday. The company is celebrating the release with a party tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. at Improper City in Denver (3201 Walnut St.), where $14 buys a boilermaker featuring a shot of the new spirit plus a station 26 Brewing Co. Juicy Banger IPA.

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