ROCK SOLID ART AND SPIRIT

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By Kyle Kirves

 Photo: Petr Wiese

Photo: Petr Wiese

When someone says the name Abraham Lincoln, what’s the first thing you think of? The penny or the five dollar bill? The Gettysburg Address? Mount Rushmore? The iconic memorial, where the universally admired 16th president is forever seated on the captain’s chair of the original Starship Enterprise?

What probably doesn’t pop into your mind’s eye – unless you’re already a fan of Marble Distilling Company – is vodka. And that, Honest Abe would tell you, is a shame. 

“We feature Lincoln on our neck label of all of our spirits because the marble in the columns of the Lincoln Memorial come from the Yule quarry in Marble, Colorado,” said Michelle Marlow, spirit liaison for Marble Distilling. “We like to say that our spirits honor President Lincoln, yes, and the pioneering quarrymen who created monumental works of art.”

Appropriately enough, the highly prized stone thematically unites the vodka and vodka-based line of spirits from Marble Distilling. The main label art is an antiqued etching of a quarry, capturing one of only two places in the world from which this unique marble can be sourced. One is in Carrera, Italy. The other is, of course, the aforementioned Yule quarry, just up the road from the distillery. Marlow credits the Proof Agency in Saint Louis, a group specializing in branding for craft spirits, and longtime marketing expert Mitch Meyers with helping create their branding. 

More than just a convenient name taken from the local rock, marble features prominently in the company’s distilling process, providing a signature carbon filter for the vodka. 

“We use crushed marble as a filter for our craft spirits,” says Marlow. “It separates us from the other vodkas out there that are flavorless and odorless. It doesn’t strip as much of the flavors, and it imparts a unique minerality to the vodka that makes us special.” 

Marlow adds that water for further proofing-down of the spirits comes from a well in the town of Marble.

Just as there are many veins and streaks of color in a truly remarkable piece of marble, Marble Distilling seeks to be more than just a source of vodka-based spirits. For more than two years, the distillery has been barreling a complete line of whiskey and bourbon spirits collectively called “Hoover’s Revenge.” 

 Photo: Petr Wiese

Photo: Petr Wiese

The first offering in the line, Ragged Mountain Rye, is available now, while others will remain barreled for the foreseeable future. The artwork is a departure from their established vodka-based branding and identity, featuring an action shot of the namesake American foxhound standing off with a mountain lion. It looks like something pulled from the front cover of an old sporting magazine from the 1950s. It’s truly eye-catching and pops off the shelf in a way that makes you want to know more about the story behind the image. Spoiler alert: ol’ Hoover survives the encounter but lost an eye for his trouble. Now departed to the happy hunting ground in the sky, the artwork is a fitting memorial to Marble’s original distillery dog. 

Marble Distilling wants you to know something else about its operation: they are the first and only known zero-waste facility of its kind in the world. 

“Sustainability is the core of our business. Virtually everything we source for our spirits comes from local producers,” Marlow said. 

It takes up to 30 gallons of water to make one bottle of spirits. 

“The process is very water- and energy-intensive,” she continued. “So (co-founder and head distiller Connie Baker) put together a team to find a way to do it better. And the result is that we have our own proprietary technology – that we will readily share with anyone – called the WET system for Water, Energy and Thermal.” 

The closed-loop technology allows them to reclaim, recycle, and reuse 100 percent of their process water, saving 1.4 million gallons of water, and generating 1.8 billion BTUs of energy – enough to serve more than 20 homes annually. “If people knew about the effects the practice of distilling has on the environment, I think they’d be surprised. We’re saving the planet one bottle at a time.”

“We also recycle all of our spent mash to local ranchers for livestock feed and composting,” Marlow said. Marble Distilling has become the source of a cottage industry around Carbondale, incenting at least one local rancher to add pigs to the ranch. 

“The pigs love the spent mash,” Marlow says, laughing. Who can blame them?

The perspective that goes into Marble Distilling spirits makes you feel better for having bought it. It’s a solid plan and a sovereign promise, built on great spirits. As reliable, you might say, as the president whose visage is at the top the bottle, and
as solid as the rock that lends its name to Marble Distilling. 

Kyle Kirves is a solid dude who believes drinking beer should be a five-senses experience.