Cows are mooing and blue-hued Front Range mountains are visible in the distance as farmer R.J. Ottaviano steers the hay wagon I’m riding on along Colorado Stock and Grain’s sun-kissed fields. Our destination: the harvesting site for the heritage wheat that the Family Jones used to make its first whiskey, located on the 120-plus-acre organic farm Ottaviano leases.
When we get there, Ottaviano joins us for an inaugural taste of Atticus Jones—the Family Jones’ debut straight rye whiskey, made with 100-percent Colorado-grown grains—while head distiller Rob Masters explains how the Family Jones purchased Ottaviano’s entire rye crop from the 2016 harvest to produce the aromatic spirit.
But whiskey isn’t all that the Family Jones has been working on. Located 10 miles from Colorado Stock and Grain sits the brand’s new Loveland tasting room, now open to thirsty Coloradans. It’s a local-first endeavor three years in the making, and Masters and the Family Jones team intends to pour grain-to-glass libations and honor the area’s agricultural heritage there.
Since launching in 2016, the Family Jones’ Loveland location has served as a production and distribution center for the company’s rum, gin, bourbon, and vodka. But as of September 21, guests can finally taste those spirits at the source and tour the facility. The opening precedes the anticipated release of Atticus Jones, which will be available at liquor stores across the state on October 15.
Paul Tamburello, CEO of the Family Jones and owner of Little Man Ice Cream, believes that more consumers than ever crave a connection to the sources of what they eat and drink—and Tamburello wants to help make those connections by supporting Colorado producers. “‘Every act of eating is an agricultural act,’” he says, quoting agricultural activist Wendell Berry. “We want to grow things that matter. It all starts with that soil.”
As such, Atticus Jones, aged for a minimum of two years in new American oak barrels, contains Ottaviano’s rye, malt from Root Shoot Malting in Loveland, and corn from Whiskey Sisters Supply in Burlington. “We hope to only ever process Colorado grain,” Masters says.
The design of the 1,200-square-foot tasting room in Loveland is quirky, as one expects from Tamburello, and pays tribute to the community’s reputation as the home to Colorado’s largest collection of outdoor sculptures and other artistic elements. For instance, multicolored bowling ball halves cling to steel tubes behind the bar, and the bar top itself contains sections from dozens of bowling pins suspended in clear resin.
Like the Family Jones’ micro-distillery-and-restaurant in LoHi, all of the ingredients used in its seasonal cocktails are made in-house, from the crème de violet to the Colorado pine amaretto. Guests may recognize some drinks from the Denver location, but many of the Loveland outpost’s offerings are unique. New creations include the Barricuda, a delicious take on a lemon drop martini made with Annika Jones Vodka, fresh basil, lemongrass liqueur, and lemon syrup. And Hair of the Dog—a mix of house gin, tomato juice, celery bitters, pickled chile brine, and peppercorn bitters—is destined to become a brunch cocktail favorite.
Distillery tours are available at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and on an impromptu basis (as time permits) on other days for visitors who want insight into grain processing and fermentation, and to see the still (twice the size of the still in Denver), rack house, and bottling room. Another departure from the Family Jones Spirit House: There won’t be a full menu of inventive small plates in Loveland, just locally-made snacks and a selection of Little Man Ice Cream sandwiches, with food trucks on-site on select days.
For your own early taste of Atticus Jones, go to the Family Jones’ five-course dinner with whiskey cocktail pairings at the Family Jones Spirit House on October 7 (get your tickets here), or head to the more-casual open house being held there on October 12 from 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
The debut of Ella Jones, a barrel-aged bourbon, is planned for spring 2020.
The Loveland tasting room is open Thursday 5–10 p.m., Friday 5 p.m.–12 a.m., Saturday 12 p.m.–12 a.m., and Sunday 12 p.m.–6 p.m.; 1527 Taurus Ct., Suite 110, Loveland.
The Denver tasting room and restaurant is open Tuesday–Thursday 4–11 p.m., Friday–Saturday 4 p.m.–1 a.m., Sunday 4–10 p.m.; 3245 Osage St.