Las Vegas Distillery
7330 Eastgate Road, Suite 100
Henderson, NV 89011
It seems hard to believe, with all of the wild west history and 50+ years of serious gaming and partying, that until 2010, nowhere in the state of Nevada had there ever been a distillery. Then came George Racz, a Hungarian native, who decided that it was time for Nevada to have its own distillery and that he was the man to make it happen. After 5 long years of lobbying and working with the powers that be, he was successfully granted the first license to distill in Nevada history.
So, his journey, as he refers to it, begins. He secured some space in an industrial park in Henderson, in an area locally known as the Booze District, where he has craft breweries and wine makers for neighbors. (I must confess, that as a guy who spent 25 years in the auto industry, the irony of its proximity next to an auto mall, was not lost on me.)
He, as most all small distillers do, began with the requisite vodkas, gins, and rums that provide the necessary cash flow to keep a small operation afloat before it can package a whiskey, due to the aging time required. He quickly began to realize that the desert presented some inherent challenges when it came to making whiskey. The biggest of these being the climate, and the resulting tax, of an increased angel’s share or evaporation during aging, that comes with barrel-aging in the hot, dry environment. According to George, in Kentucky and Tennessee where the bulk of the country’s whiskey is made, the angel’s share runs at about 1-2% loss per year. Comparatively, his barrels aging in the desert of Southern Nevada, run closer to 9-10% per year. Sadly, that means no whiskeys in the 10 -12 year old range are going to be coming out of this area for awhile, if ever.
There is a benefit to these circumstances, that the aging and maturation processes are sped up, by the heat and dryness allowing the aging liquid to absorb deeper into the oak staves and extract more and deeper flavor. This results in a whiskey aged only 2 years to taste more mature. While there visiting, he demonstrated to me sample staves from his barrels and those of a 12 year old Scotch barrel. The depth of absorption was as deep, if not deeper in some spots. Unfortunately, by law, it can’t be labelled or marketed that way. The labeling laws state that an age statement must be based on the actual age, or youngest of the contents, if a blend. This did not stop him from entering his Nevada 150 whiskey into a contest in the 10 year old category, nor did it stop him from walking away with first place.
Las Vegas Distilling has so far bottled 3 whiskies; Nevada 150 Bourbon, which was made in 2013 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Nevada statehood, Nevada Whiskey, and Seven-Grain Whiskey. There is a somewhat dry, desert-like quality to these whiskies.
The Nevada 150 is the smoothest, light in flavor, with some of that sweetness that you expect from a good bourbon. Being their first bourbon, it shows strong promise and creates anticipation for future offerings.
The Nevada Whiskey is 100% wheat and truly mild in flavor with a light alcohol taste for a whiskey of 90 proof. This is the driest and most desert-tasting (hints of the dry, arid, sandy nature of the desert with just a hint of that occasional cactus for balance) of the three.
Their Seven-Grain offering truly brings out the grains and highlights the diversity of the grains. It calls to mind a seven-grain bread and its complexities especially when compared to the all wheat Nevada Whiskey. The mashbill on the seven grain is 40% wheat and then 10% each of other grains including; corn, rye, millet, amongst others.
I was informed that there is a 10 grain whiskey currently aging that will be 10% each of 10 different grains including black rice. This should be available for their fifth anniversary coming up on May 21. They also have plans for introducing a bar with a cocktail program to their facility.
George is a most gracious host, and a fount of ideas for the future, who would be thrilled to have you come join him in his journey, as he continues to pioneer the concept of desert whiskey.
Distillery Tour Time:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 3 PM
Saturday: 12 AM, 2 PM and 4 PM
Distillery Tasting Time:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 4 PM
Saturday: 1 PM, 3 PM and 5 PM
“I’m here to Kick Ass and Drink Whiskey. And Pilgrim, I’m out of Whiskey!”