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Leopold Bros Distillery

November 12, 2015

Those of you who read NPS regularly know that in our studied opinion, Leopold Bros makes the best gin in the world (the small batch gin). We always have some on hand at the home bar. Part of the secret behind the gin is separate distillation of the aromatics which are then combined with the base alcohol. It’s magical stuff which has come to be known as the Leopold process.

So we already loved Leopold’s by default, but then we visited. Now we can’t say enough good things about the distillery, its products, and most importantly its people. Wow, what an operation!

Leopold Bros Distillery

Leopold Bros Distillery

We were given a tour by Alec Ropes, one of the seven Leopold Brothers employees. Yes, they work hard and they work passionately at Leopold’s! Alec was just great, spending three hours with us in intense conversation. We were geeking out on alcohol production, and boy was it fun.

The genius behind Leopold Bros distilling-wise is Todd Leopold, one of the two brothers. Todd is a practicing intellectual with a master craftsman sensibility backed by many years of experience and vast quantities of absorbed knowledge. We were incredibly pleased to get to spend a few minutes chatting with Todd even while a vodka run was heading into the tails.

Todd Leopold and his new old still

Todd Leopold and his new old still

Todd and his brother Scott have built a distilling factory that is not only ultra-modern, it’s also environmentally sustainable. For example, a closed loop water system keeps water lossage (a huge deal for most alcohol production) way down. Natural light suffuses the floor, and a ceiling fan keeps the yeast aromas circulating with fresh air from the garden outside.

There are three types of still on line at Leopolds now.

German stills

German stills

Alembic stills

Alembic stills

The new three layer still

The new three layer still

Todd explained the new still’s operation to us. The four chambers all have different jobs to do during a twenty minute run, and the mash moves its way down the column between runs. The resulting process suffuces the water with as much flavor as the alcohol. (Looks like the new still goes along with the malting floor, the malt kiln, and the sherry barrels in the rickhouse. Hmm, what could they be up to?)

Tower still for vodka production

Tower still for vodka production

Special steam punk magic thingy

Special steam punk magic thingy

We paused for some pictures with Todd. What a great guy! Knowledgeable, funny, smart as a whip, and kind. Todd had some hilarious stories about the Denver health department people, physical phase transitions, and alcohol as a decontamination solution.

Antti flew in from Helsinki

Antti flew in from Helsinki

Of course all distilling starts with beer (which is how Leopolds got its start in Ann Arbor years ago). Several different mashes are in use now at the distillery. I was surprised how viscous the rye mash is. Slippery goopy.

Open mash tanks made of cypress and pine

Open mash tanks made of cypress and pine

Eventually, alcohol is blended (Leopold Bros makes 22 products currently with some awesome new ones coming on line any month now) and put into barrels. There is lots of “three char” white American oak in the house.

Floor rick

Floor rick

Rickhouse with 2 or 3 barrel ricks

Rickhouse with 2 or 3 barrel ricks

Alec with the product line

Alec with the product line

Of course we had to do some sampling. I already own 7 Leopold Bros products in my supply and was happy to add two more: Cherry Liqueur (to sub in for Heering) and a Digestif called something crazy due to American labeling laws. The Digestif is in the Benedictine/Chartruese range.

A mysterious new building at Leopold Bros

A mysterious new building at Leopold Bros

Anyway, thanks to Todd and Alec taking time out of their busy jobs to show around a couple of newby geeks. We loved it!

By the time we took off for dinner, the sun had set

By the time we took off for dinner, the sun had set

When we arrived at the fantastic Colt and Grey for dinner, the first thing we did was call for some Leopold Bros cocktails.

Here’s to passion, science, craftsmanship, and kindness. Leopold Bros you have my loyalty all sown up for this lifetime!

Make yourself a cocktail with Leopold’s Gin today:
Blue Moon
Corpse Reviver #2

One Response to “Leopold Bros Distillery”


  1. […] best way to finish a distillery visit is to run out and try the product in the wild. Toward that end, we made a quick visit to the Alley Light where we sampled a drink called […]


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