Handcrafting Spirits: LA’s Organic Distillery

By Brian Lemay No comments

Welcome to downtown LA and LA’s only distillery
since prohibition… As you’ll see, we are in very industrial surroundings and what you
see in front of you, that creation is actually our still. Working with Vendome copper, America’s
oldest operating still maker, is a true commitment to supporting the artisan nature of the small
distilleries that are coming back in the US, at least… It’s in the same way that coffee
and chocolate and cheese and beer and wine went through that Renaissance period of swinging
back from hugely manufactured products to handcrafting… Spirits are just entering
that lovely period, I think… This one is our rum… Every day from now until about
one month from now, when this is complete, we’ll come here and take a little pour, smell
it for aroma, taste it… because two oranges, even from the same farm, never taste the same…
The only way we can get the final product to taste the same is for us to always taste
and adjust the ingredients, like you make soup. You always stir and taste… We make
our alcohol that way… So this is our research and development area
of the distillery. You’ll notice that it looks like a bar. And the reason is that we want
to be reminded of what we are doing. And that is really about making great cocktails… We started to make spirits about 10 and a
half years ago when Litty and I got engaged and started to go to each other’s uncles and
aunts’ homes… to introduce the couple to the relatives. Culturally, we have someone
stand up and say a toast. Except Litty thought that this stuff tasted like nail polish remover
— or jet fuel — combined with jet fuel… So, I started to make infusions at home. You
know, we’d go to the farmer’s markets and buy herbs and fruits and vegetables and I
would zest them or crush them or something and infuse them in vodka mostly…and when
we would go to these events, people would think, ‘wow, where did you buy this beautiful
bottle of liquor?’ and everyone who was at the event would love it and they would steal
the leftover bottles… and now we make the world’s biggest collection of organic spirits
all based on real things… All made exactly like we were making at home, for the same
results…best flavor, for the best cocktail… We source everything fresh from within 100
miles of our distillery…you know, to capture the best flavour, wee initially went with
whole ingredients. To capture an even better flavor, we changed to make organic spirits
and one of the things that is unique about LA is the large number of organic farms within
a hundred miles of here… It’s something that allows us to be here versus almost anywhere
else in the world, because of the presence of these farmers. It’s funny, Los Angeles
has this reputation of being shallow and not of the earth, you know, but in truth the opposite
is what’s actually true… In addition to all of spirits being organic, our glass is
lightweight, all of the paper from the label is post-consumer-recycled and plus we plant
one tree for every bottle that we sell. So, we hired two agencies to study the carbon
footprint of our products — one dirt to consumer, the package, and the other the trees — and
what we discovered was that one of our bottles produces about 2 kilos of carbon dioxide — that’s
the carbon footprint — and one of the trees that we plant, once you factor where we plant
it, and what we plant, how many don’t quite make it — absorbs 790 kilos of the same sort
of carbon dioxide, which means that one of our products is so radically carbon negative
that having one drink just made me carbon negative for a day… Okay, pour me another…
Yes, ma’am…

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