Laws Whiskey House is a fairly new craft distillery out of Denver, Colorado, whose whiskey first hit shelves late in 2014. We toured the distillery—the passion project of Alan Laws, a former investment banker—last year.
The team at Laws uses the “craft” label perhaps more literally than most distilleries. They mean “craft” as in “arts and crafts”—specifically, the Arts and Crafts movement, a trend in design and art that sprang up in the wake of the Industrial Revolution and advocated for traditional methods, attention to detail, and a populist ethos toward thoughtful design. They draw a direct line between Laws’s hands-on distilling and distribution style, and the ideals of Arts and Crafts artists. The rectangular bottle is meant to recall a building, since architecture was an area heavily influenced by the movement.
Laws’s lineup includes several four-grain bourbons (one of which, a bottled-in-bond expression, we reviewed earlier this year), malt and wheat whiskeys, and three versions of rye whiskey. This one, AD Laws Secale Straight Rye, is the lowest-priced one of the group.
Tasting Notes: AD Laws Secale Straight Rye
Vital Stats: It’s made with 95% rye and 5% barley—both Colorado-grown—double-distilled, and aged at least three years in new American oak. It’s bottled at 100 proof. Each bottle is marked with a batch number; mine was from batch 2.
Appearance: Dark, dullish copper
Nose: Quite grain-forward at first, with well-done toast and wholesome breakfast cereal—Cheerios?—coming in strong up front. A definite rubbery, nail polish-y chemical note is also apparent, but it quiets down after a few minutes in the glass.
Some fat fruit notes are next; the smell of a bag of those sweet-sour unsulfured dried apricots comes through loud and clear in my mind. Finally, stale cardboard and a hint of vanilla.
Palate: Also grain-forward, but more biscuity than toasty. The fruit is darker than what I got on the nose, more like cooked blueberries, and there’s a little baking spice. It’s prickly hot on the palate. Bitter wood lingers on the finish, which has some harshness. A little water reveals a buttery character, rendering the texture rather oily.
Final Thoughts & Score/Buy A Bottle:
This is a decent, somewhat unexpected whiskey. The toasty grain nose isn’t what I’d expect from a 95% rye expression, although the fiery heat on the palate certainly suggests a good helping of rye. Both the nose and the palate have some intriguing facets, but overall, it comes off as disjointed, and the bitter wood/cardboard ending is a disappointment.
I’m intrigued by this distillery, and by this whiskey, but it needs polish.