Leopold Bros is a Denver based distillery (I live just outside of Denver), and I’ve enjoyed their whiskey a couple times over the years. I’ll be going for a tour of the distillery soon, and will update the article after I do.
For now, we’re going to focus on Leopold Bros Small Batch American Whiskey. It passes all of the regulations of a bourbon, but they simply market themselves as an American whiskey. We’ll touch more on that, but first, a little about the company.
Leopold Bros was founded by brothers Todd and Scott Leopold. They originally operated a brew-pub in Michigan, but after that closed down, they moved to Colorado to distill whiskey and other spirits.
Leopold Bros Distillery
I’ll have more information here after the tour. For now, you can read all about their malting floor, open fermentation, their three chamber still, and more at their website.
Leopold Bros Small Batch American Whiskey Overview
- Spirit: American Whiskey
- Owned By: Leopold Bros – Scott and Todd Leopold
- Distilled By: Leopold Bros Distillery
- Aged: 2 years
- ABV: 43% ABV, 86 proof
- Mashbill: 64% corn, 15% rye, 21% malted barley
- Price: $35
Let’s start with a couple things I really like about Leopold Bros Small Batch. First, the barley is malted in house, it’s fermented, distilled, aged, and bottled all at Leopold Bros Distillery in Denver, CO. I’ve said it many times, I like a lot of sourced whiskey, but I always appreciate a craft whiskey.
Next is the mashbill. The Small Batch American WHiskey maintains a bourbon mash, but a unique one at that. With an unlimited number of bourbons on the market with a 75/13/12, 78/12/10, or high rye mash, it’s nice to see something different. Malted barley is the 2nd most prevalant grain with 21%. Due to the low (in relation to a typical bourbon mash) 64% of corn, that still leaves a 15% of the mash to be rye. So, while rye is the 3rd most used grain, there is still plenty of it.
Price is another plus. $35 is an extremely competetive price. At $35, you don’t need to be the best sipping whiskey. It should make a good cocktail and be good enough to drink on its own.
Now, let’s take a look at a couplse downsides (at least perceived downsides). First is the 2 year age statement. Most whiskeys today go at least 4 years, so they don’t have to display an age statement at all. Will the whiskey show some of the youth from only being barreled for 2 years? It’s worth noting that one of my favorite whiskeys – Chattanooga Whiskey 111 – is also only aged 2+ years.
The other downside, for me, is the proof. At 86 proof, it’s definitely a bit lower than I typically like. My honey hole is closer to the 94-110 proof range. However, if you like some easier, lighter whiskeys, maybe 86 proof is perfect for you.
Leopold Bros Small Batch Tasting Notes
I’ve covered some of the things I liked and things I didn’t like. Ultimately, the most important piece is whether or not I like the whiskey, not its age, proof, or mashbill. That means it’s time to pour myself a dram and find out if it’s good.
Nose: Vanilla with orange and lemon – vanilla/lemon icing. Straw and graham cracker are very present. The more it sits, the more nuts come in to play. Some honey and green apple. There’s a bit of floral and earthen spice sitting around, too.
Palate: Almost more toffee on the palate, perhaps thats some of the nuttiness. Orange and licorice are present and give off that floral note. A little bit of cinnamon with more earthen spice, with light oak.
Finish: Orange, a touch of oak, and a floral undertone. Not a super short finish, but a light one. Very drinkable.
Leopold Bros Small Batch Whiskey passes all of the regulations of a bourbon, but they chose not to market it as one. With that said, it definitely doesn’t drink like a typical bourbon. There was more spice and floral/earthen notes than your typical bourbon – likely from the rye content. Straw and nuts sit around with malt – likely from the malted barley. The bourbon notes, namely vanilla and oak, are a little more subdued from the young 2 year age statement.
Is Leopold Bros Small Batch American Whiskey Good?
In my opinion, yes, Leopold Bros Small Batch is very good. I like the uniqueness, I like that it’s well rounded, I like the mouthfeel. Subjectively, I like it. Objectively (to a degree), I think it’s a higher quality whiskey than a lot of other options in the same price range. The finish is fairly light and unremarkable, if I had to criticize one thing.
The low proof is likely responisble for the light finish, and the youth is slightly noticeable with a touch of graininess. While not a downside perse, but the age likely accounts for the lighter vanilla and oak notes.
For $35, am I going to complain? Absolutely not. Do I think an extra 2 years may add some creamier vanilla to cover up some graininess? Sure. Do I think proofing it a touch higher would help add richness to the finish? Sure. Do I still like this whiskey? Absolutely.
The Small Batch whiskey is Leopold Bros standard expression, but they also offer a couple more whiskeys, along with gin, flavored whiskeys, liqueurs, apertifs, vodka, and absinthe.
They offer a straight bourbon aged 4 years, a bottled in bond bourbon aged 5 years, and a single barrel 3 chamber rye.
Leopold Bros is a craft distillery operating out of Northeast Denver. It is family owned, based on their name, you can guess that it is owned by Todd & Scott Leopold – the Leopold Brothers.
Leopold Bros is committed to do doing things the “right” way, or the old-fashioned way. An in house malting floor, open fermentation (with flowers around), sour mash, locally grown grains, barreling at 100 proof are just some of the ways they preserve traditional distilling methods.
When it comes to the whiskey itself, Leopold Bros Small Batch is a very good whiskey. Sure it’s got a 2 year age statement and a low 86 proof, but for $35, this is a good pick. The flavor profile is more floral/earthen than your typical bourbon, so it’s unique, too.
If you come across a bottle of Leopold’s, go ahead and give it a try! If you’re in the Denver area, go ahead and stop by the distillery, perhaps I’ll see you there!