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MARK LEFFINGWELL
Ted Palmer, owner of RoundHouse Spirits, is beginning a new line of agave, Tatanka Agave, distilled at his facility in Boulder.

If you go

What: Rock’n at Roundhouse

Where: Roundhouse Spirits, 5311 Western Ave., Suite 180, Boulder

When: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, June 18

More info: roundhousespirits.com, sistasuz.com

Founded in Longmont in October of 2008 by Alex Nelson, Roundhouse Spirits today operates as one of two distilleries in Boulder. Nelson, who remains one of the company’s stockholders, sold the company to longtime microbrewer Ted Palmer in 2009.

The distillery, run by “El Presidente” Palmer, makes gin, coffee liqueur and now agave which, aside from recent preview tours, will be available for its first public tastings at Roundhouse’s release party this Saturday afternoon.

Palmer’s exuberant about his distillery’s agave, called Tatanka — Lakota for “bison” — made with 100 percent blue weber agave nectar direct from Jalisco, Mexico. Also known as mezcal, agave tequilana is a sugar-rich plant that is the base substance in tequila proper.

The most significant difference between agave and standard tequila, Palmer says, is the yeast flavor profile. “Up here,” says Palmer, “we don’t have access to the yeast they have down in Mexico. So I use beer yeast.”

The first batch of Roundhouse’s agave was started in February and Palmer says it’s “just now getting so that you can actually drink it.” He continued that the spirit takes a long time to ferment (four to five weeks, with a week to distill) and that there must be many fermentations to garner enough product for a bottling run.

Being Roundhouse’s sole employee, the onus of remaining with the still for eight to nine hours at a time — a necessary evil of the spirit game — falls directly on Palmer. When asked how he does it, Palmer laughed, saying in his phone interview this week (while claiming to be standing next to the still at the time) that he survives the long hours by cleaning, listening to music and trying to complete paperwork.

Roundhouse is starting with their blanco, followed by their reposado that must be barreled for a few months. Another year and their añejo will also be ready. Palmer says the public will not be able to purchase bottles of the agave until Roundhouse has received its federal label approval.

“It’s taking longer than usual,” said Palmer, “since the feds have laid off so many people lately.”

A slightly “tweaked” brand of Roundhouse’s agave will be available as the house tequila at the Los Oasis Latin Grill located in downtown Boulder where the Draft House once stood. And it can be sold in cocktails exclusively from Roundhouse’s distillery, which will be opening its cocktail room for the warmer summer season starting with this Saturday’s agave release party.

Roundhouse will be offering free samples of spirits, food from Top of the Hill Grill and music by Fort Collins’ Sista Suz Band during the event.

“We’re all very excited about the new agave,” said Suz Alber, one of four lead vocalists of the five-piece Sista Suz Band, whose “eclectic rock” debut album — currently untitled — will be released next month through their website, CD Baby and iTunes.

“We think this is going to be a really fun event in Boulder. A great chance to meet new people and to have a good time.”

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