Dry Land Distillers is a celebration of the people, places, and landscapes of Colorado and the American West.
Dry Land Distillers has deep roots in Colorado and the American west. The founding team – Marc, Aaron and Nels – either grew up in Colorado or have long family ties to Colorado and the west. Aaron and Nels are both home brewers, with Aaron earning several gold-medal wins for his home recipes. Marc brings a unique connection to our spirits through his family’s heritage farm in Northern Colorado. The team wanted to start a local brewery years ago, but the plans were put on the back burner (day jobs, families, and real life. You know.) Luckily, a freelance side project introduced them to the early craft distilling scene in 2017 – and Dry Land was born.
The 2017 side project allowed the team to meet and work with Colorado and Wyoming farmers, brewers, and entrepreneurs who had been brave enough to dabble in craft distilling. The creativity and perseverance of these early innovators inspired the Dry Land team to take the leap. From the very first days, the people and the lands around us shaped our mission – to create spirits that are an authentic celebration of the place we call home.
The Dry Land team began experimenting with native and local ingredients such as prickly pear cactus, spruce, and a drought-tolerant heritage wheat. The goal was to use ingredients true to Colorado – and at minimum, see if they could get a decent fermentation from them. They quickly learned that the ingredients, though hard to work with, held great potential. After enlisting the help of good friends at Still Cellars in Longmont to help convert their basement recipes into viable spirit formulas, they did a few test runs to impressive results. Sharing the early runs with friends, family and strangers garnered rave reviews – and Dry Land Distillers was born.
Dry Land Distillers officially opened their doors in 2018. The original distillery was located in a tiny, 600 square foot nook in the back of an old building in downtown Longmont. Our original still was custom fabricated just down the road in Broomfield by the visionary team at Pot and Column, and we worked with other Colorado artisans to bring Dry Land to life.
We started with two flagship spirits: Our 100% Heirloom Wheat Whiskey, and our original Cactus spirit made from prickly pear cactus smoked over a mesquite fire. We quickly expanded into a third flagship spirit, ourNative Colorado Gin made with 100% native Colorado ingredients. Today, we’re proud to be located in the (much larger) original Valley Farm Dairy building right in the heart of downtown Longmont.
The journey to create these spirits is not easy. The ingredients are finicky, prickly, hard-to-find and expensive. But the results are spectacular. The spirits they give us are born of the beautiful and challenging environment that created them: complex, rich, earthy and unforgettable. All of us at Dry Land Distillers hope you’ll join us in discovering the spirits of the American west.
"Our goal is to authentically showcase Colorado's lands in our spirits. There's a lot more to Colorado than just the mountains."
- Nels A. Wroe, Founder
Our distillery is custom-designed to create small batch, original spirits from raw ingredients. The equipment was built specifically to unlock the flavors of the unique and challenging ingredients used in our spirits.
We run three stills at Dry Land: Our original, 200-gallon copper pot still, a 1,000-gallon copper pot still, and a smaller 12-plate stainless steel and copper column still with a gin basket. Our pot stills were handcrafted by the metallurgists and fabricators at Pot and Column, a local fabricator that builds custom stills.
All our batches start with raw ingredients sourced from local growers, including Marc Arnusch Farms in eastern Colorado. Our grains are malted by the team at Troubadour Maltings, less than 40 miles north in Ft Collins.
We mash all our ingredients in our 1,000-gallon custom-fabricated stainless mash tun built by the renowned team at Rocky Mountain Vessels in Montrose, Colorado. Our wash is fermented in 1,000-gallon stainless fermentation tanks (originally wine tanks) that allow precise control over finicky yeasts.
Our entire distillery is powered by our new low-pressure steam boiler and our closed-loop clean water chilling system. Our engineer from Boulder, Colorado designed a highly efficient system that allows us to capture and recycle BTUs used in creating our spirits to heat and cool our entire building.
Our cooling system reuses all our cooling water, and we use it to power our air conditioners before it is recirculated back into our system. Our steam is recycled through our heating units that use waste heat from our production to heat our building. Even the grain we use for our whiskey is composted at Black Cat Farms, a local farm in Boulder, Colorado.
Our focus on sustainability earned us the “2021 Most Sustainable Business” award from PACE (Partners for a Clean Environment) and the City of Longmont. We’re also excited that we’re in the process of obtaining our LEEDs certification, a difficult but worthwhile challenge.