Luxury rooms and liquor come to Carbondale
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
The Marble Distilling Co. and The Distillery Inn is what you get when you mix passion and know-how with Carbondale’s quirkiness, local loyalty and desire for sustainability.
Connie Baker came to Carbondale in 1992, where she founded a pharmaceutical company before moving to Marble in 2008. When her brother-in-law Robert DiPangrazio saw an article on Dry Fly Distilling Institute in The New York Times, the pair headed to Spokane, Washington, to enroll.
In 2011, they graduated with a dream to launch a business by putting to use DiPangrazio’s business degree and Baker’s startup skills and share of a space in Carbondale.
Now, they’re putting the final touches on a two-story building at 150 Main St., with distilling facilities, a tasting room and lodging. The first guests are expected soon, with an official grand opening planned for June 5.
“Carbondale’s the perfect place for this,” Baker said. “It’s an amazing little town. Of course, we have the outdoors, but we also have great restaurants and galleries. You can do all your Christmas shopping here.”
Baker hopes The Distillery Inn’s five beds will provide a chance for a different demographic to visit the lodging-strapped town.
“We definitely need more and better lodging,” Baker said. “Sometimes, day trippers miss out. There’s an interest from people who would rather stay down here and go out in Carbondale.“
Described as “contemporary luxury in an environmentally friendly, sustainable setting” the inn’s five rooms feature king-size beds with high-quality Italian linens, organic bath amenities, a fireplace and private balcony and in-room Marble Distilling Co. spirit samples. Seasonal rates range from $179 to $279. The inn also offers concierge services and the ability for guests to reserve the entire facility for private events.
Locals and visitors can mingle in the tasting room, which will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays and features a Yule marble bar, handcrafted cocktails and small bites from SILO restaurant. Distillery tours are available by reservation or walk-in when operations permit.
Baker, DiPangrazio and their partners have tried to honor small-town tradition by hiring local contractors and architects and using locally sourced materials in the building. Yule marble makes appearances throughout, and spirits themselves are filtered through crushed marble instead of carbon, and their labels bear the visage of Abe Lincoln, whose memorial made the stone famous.
The flagship product, Crystal River Vodka 80, made from an original blend of all-natural Colorado wheat and barley and distilled five times in an old-fashioned copper pot, will run $32.99 for 750 milliliters.
Moonlight EXpresso, a dark-roasted Bonfire Coffee liqueur from a family recipe, and Gingercello, a modern adaptation of the lemon Italian classic, each go for $34.99 per 750 ml. The distillery also will barrel whiskey for future release, with a members-only “Barrel Club” for sampling during the two-year-plus aging process.
Instead of getting equipment from Germany or China, the operators made the extra effort to buy domestic. “Hazel,” a 250-gallon copper pot still visible from the tasting room, was custom made by Vendome Copper and Brass Works in Kentucky; the 500-gallon stripping still and the open cypress formation tanks hail from Alabama; and the mash tun and distillery tanks are made in Colorado.
The facility also honors Carbondale’s emphasis on environmental stewardship and sustainability.
In addition to a 10-kilowatt solar array and heavy use of recycled materials, it boasts a one-of-a-kind Water and Energy Thermal System backed by a $25,000 Randy Udall TRUE Pioneer Grant from CORE.
While most distilleries discharge hot water produced by the distilling process, Marble Distilling plans to extract the heat to warm the building and for process systems and reuse the water.
“It seems so natural to me,” Baker said. “You have all this energy.Let’s use it.”
Two 5,000-gallon insulated water tanks on the south side of the building will store the hot and cold water used for the processing and also will cool the building in lieu of a traditional air-conditioning system.
The process is expected to save an estimated 125.1 metric tons of carbon and more than 1.2 million gallons of water each year. Energy modeling gives the space an outstanding Zero Energy Performance Index of 6.98, well below the 57.0 standard set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and even the 47.0 required by Carbondale’s green code.
Marble Distillery plans to share the proprietary design with other artisan distilling companies that strive to be as energy efficient as possible and those that promote water stewardship.
“If we can do it here on a postage-stamp-sized lot in Carbondale, anyone can,” Baker said.
Marble Distilling plans to start out small, with around 1,600 cases a year, distributed through the tasting room as well as at local restaurants and liquor stores. Long term, Baker and DiPangrazio hope to expand their market to Aspen, Vail, Denver and beyond.
Regardless, they hope to hold on to their small, local character.
“Since we’re small and we have the tasting room, we can make a lot of different things and test them,” Baker said.
She envisions bottling parties and seasonal additions such as local apricot brandy — everything the mainstream market isn’t.
“Before Prohibition, people drank local. Now, it’s all made by these huge conglomerates,” Baker said. “The other small distilleries aren’t our competition. Jack Daniels is our competition.”
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