The Whiskey Film: From Barley Fields to Your Table

By Jamie Mills

Photo: STACEY FRONEK

Photo: STACEY FRONEK

The bright lights may soon shine on several Colorado companies making waves in the spirits world.

A new production called The Whiskey Film is being produced by the same folks who brought the popular film Crafting a Nation to Netflix.

Currently, the film’s producers at Traverse Image have lined up Distillery 291, Deerhammer Distilling Co., and the Colorado Malting Co., for the documentary, which will focus on the intricate process of creating American Whiskey from barley fields to the table.

Distillery 291 is in Colorado Springs and is a small batch distillery making whiskey and liqueur. Owner and distiller Michael Myers has made it his goal to replicate the taste, smell, and folklore of the Wild West when producing his whiskey.

 "I met the director of The Whiskey Film, Tom Kolicko, a few years ago at an event,” Myers said. “In our first encounter, we spoke about art, and the importance of getting your art out daily. I was a fashion photographer in New York City for many years, and these days, whiskey is the way I get my art out. I crafted my first still from the copper photogravure plates I used for prints and I find recipe creation to be very artistic. This film shines a light on the modern distiller and I can’t wait to see the full-length documentary. Everyone needs to donate to the campaign.”

Photo: STACEY FRONEK

Photo: STACEY FRONEK

Deerhammer is in Buena Vista and was founded by Amy and Lenny Eckstein. The two are driven by passion and adventure and use these same characteristics to produce their whiskeys. They focus on tradition and crafting everything by hand, while adding a mix of curiosity and creativity in order to produce independent American Whiskey. "American craft whiskey is 100 percent where it’s at right now, Lenny Eckstein said. “There are so many great distilleries out there. The folks behind the scenes are pushing way beyond what has always been done and they’re making some truly amazing whiskies. We’re so stoked that these stories are being told and that Deerhammer is part of it."

The Colorado Malting Co. has been passed down many generations in the Cody family and over the years the operation has evolved. Based in Alamosa, the family grows barley and hay, and they have turned their old dairy barn into a malting facility. They provide products for many brewers and distillers, including New Belgium, MillerCoors, Spirits of the Rockies and Anvil Distillery.  

The Whiskey Film producers are seeking up to eight more distilleries to feature in the film that exemplify some core themes, such as tradition, education, history and change over time. Interested distilleries can email: director@thewhiskeyfilm.com

Indiegogo is being used to raise money for funding through a crowdsourced campaign. Their initial funding goal was set at $5,000, which was raised within 24 hours of the initial announcement. However, to receive full funding for the film, they are aiming for $100,000. The campaign opened March 15 and donators will receive limited edition perks. Perks are dependent on donations but can include a thank you in the film credits, signed memorabilia, backstage viewings and other possibilities.  

Photo: STACEY FRONEK

Photo: STACEY FRONEK

“The Whiskey Film contributes to a narrative much larger than whiskey,” said Kolicko, the documentary director with Traverse Image. “It’s a forgotten story of hard work, determination and the inspiration that comes through creating a product with your hands. The Whiskey Film offers backers the opportunity to engage with the creativity of whiskey culture and celebrate the hard-won successes of bootstrapped entrepreneurs. It’s the harnessed power of American agriculture and ingenuity the distillers use to craft their destinies alongside a superior and meaningful product.”

Kolicko, who launched Traverse Image, brought Crafting a Nation to Netflix. The film explored the passion behind the craft beer scene and featured, among others, Black Shirt Brewing Co., in Denver’s RiNo district.