Thirst Colorado | Dylan Hochstedler | April 13, 2017

You could say that Curt and Nancy Richardson have you covered in the cell phone and spirit worlds.

The couple founded OtterBox, which produces the popular phone and tablet cases designed to protect all kinds of devices.

But there was no resting on laurels for the Richardsons. Although he had no previous experience working with distilled spirits, Curt’s entrepreneurial juices pushed him toward creating great spirits. The Richardsons started Old Elk Distillery in Fort Collins in 2013. They plan on opening a new tasting room and distilling location in the River District of Fort Collins in fall 2017.

The roots of the distillery go back a few years. “Let’s build the best spirit in the world,” Curt Richardson said to Bill Lovell, former general manager of Old Elk Distillery. Lovell worked as Otterbox’s Global Director of Supply Chain from 2010-2014 before Richardson approached him and asked him to run the distillery. He worked as the GM of Old Elk Distillery until April 2017 before he moved on to other endeavors.

Having won a silver medal for its Dry Town Gin and a bronze medal for its Dry Town Vodka at the 2017 American Craft Spirits Awards, Old Elk has already taken baby steps in fulfilling Richardson’s dream of crafting the best spirit in the world.

In addition to its Dry Town Vodka and Dry Town Gin offerings, Old Elk also produces Nooku Bourbon Cream, which is a recipe that includes two-year aged bourbon and dairy cream.

They also are distilling bourbon, which has been aging for about three years. Lovell believes it will soon be ready to bottle. “Once the bourbon fulfills the brand promise, we will release it,” he said at a recent tasting event at The Way Back bar in Denver.

Although he had no prior experience in the spirits industry, Lovell explained that his time as the GM of Old Elk was nothing but positive. He has read many books on the art of distilling and met with several other craft distilleries in order to better understand the environment and challenges in the industry.

While they haven’t released many details, Old Elk has announced that it purchased land along the Poudre River in north Fort Collins for a large production facility and tasting room. The proposal for a two-building complex has already been approved by the City of Fort Collins, but Old Elk is focusing on production and distribution before they break ground. They plan on using one building as a large production facility and the other building as a tasting room and retail center.

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