Leopold Bros. distillery in Denver is the only distillery making rye whiskey using a method popular before Prohibition: the three-chamber still. “The Three Chamber Rye whiskey is a true unicorn,” says Todd Leopold. “That’s it, there’s only one.”
Leopold’s three-chamber still was made specifically for the distillery eight years ago. According to Leopold, a modern continuous still can produce 200 barrels a day, whereas his three-chamber still only produces two. However, he feels there are added benefits that can’t be captured using modern equipment. “It pulls oils and aromas out of the rye mash that you can’t get using a continuous still — lavender notes and rose notes and all of these big floral flavors and aromas out of the rye,” says Leopold. “It makes it so the whiskey is completely different from any other modern rye whiskey.”
The whiskey that they make in the three-chamber still gets aged anywhere from eight to 15 years. Leopold says the changing of the seasons and the sugars from the wood in the barrels all have an effect on the flavor that differentiates this whiskey from others. “I’m aiming for a target on a tree that’s 10 to 15 years out, and when I hit it, it’s incredibly gratifying,” says Leopold.
Watch the full video to see how Leopold uses three-chamber still to make their special brand of rye whiskey.