“How many brides get their own whiskey?” Todd Leopold, owner and head distiller of Leopold Bros. Distillery, talks of his upcoming nuptials to his fiancee, Sarah. His engagement is one of the many changes for the Leopold family this year, and an expansion of their current distillery is just icing on the cake. Garnering accolades and nods from both national and international awards, publications, and spirits gatekeepers for their vodka, gin, whiskeys, and liqueurs, it's not an exaggeration to say that Leopolds is one of the most utilized spirit brands in Colorado bars and restaurants. With his iconic sandy coveralls, ginger beard, and humble demeanor, Eater sat down with Todd to talk about the exciting news: a bigger and badder Leopolds Distillery.
The Leopold Brothers continue to gain traction across the globe. Current distribution is expanding to the East Coast and across the Atlantic, becoming a hit in the United Kingdom and greater parts of Europe, which is keeping the distillery busy. Hell, they’ve been busy since opening in 2008 after moving back from Ann Arbor, MI., to start Leopold Bros. Distillery in their hometown of Denver.
“We’re at the right place at the right time, we haven’t done anything different. We just do the same thing the same way, and the market is coming to us rather than the other way around,” shares Todd of the recent market expansion. “Basically anybody that has anything to do with spirits on a large scale is expanding. Brown-Forman [barrel builder to age spirits like Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, Canadian Mist, El Jimador and Herradura and more] is building a new cooperage — if that doesn’t tell you anything,” Leopold continues. By early Summer 2013, the Leopolds hope to join the crowd in distillery expansion.
Just four blocks down the road from their current location, Leopold Bros. will expand to a four-acre campus, tripling their current plant size, and thus growing the Leopolds’ legacy. Among many of the added bells and whistles, a floor malting program will be one of the additions. By malting in house and utilizing the “old way method,” dating back to 1872, of producing distilled products, Todd will be upping his distilling game. “It’s so much fun putting this together — we want to make this feel like a small workshop,” says Todd, “and half the reason we’re building this is for the Maryland Rye.”
Furthermore, he hopes to add more terroir and character to their product, going so far to establish a garden comprised of lavender, honeysuckle, columbine flowers, and more placed below the air ducts to pump in pollens and the-like into the fermenters. An expanded tasting room will be another feature, a growing barrel program will be established, and the room for potential growth in the coming years — all of this using Scott’s knowledge as an environmental engineer and his father’s knowledge as a Harvard School of Design graduate. As Todd’s 17th year, dating back to when he started brewing school in 1995, it’s a pivotal stage for the Leopold family, both in the beverage industry and for the family itself. “We try to make the best spirits around — it’s a family operation and is the best place to work in the world,” shares Todd.
Todd Leopold [Photo: Jess Hunter]