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August 31, 2014

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With creative offerings, distiller thinks outside the barrel

In Today's Sun

George Racz’s distilling background is limited. His grandfather made fruit brandy on a small copper still in Transylvania when Racz was a child, and since then he has taken classes at another craft distillery in Washington.

The lack of experience has freed Racz to explore new and innovative recipes for his spirits. His seven-grain whiskey is made with more ingredients than any other whiskey in the country and he has plans to make a whiskey using 10 grains.

His latest idea, a distilled combination of rum and whiskey he calls “rumskey,” would also be a first in the spirits business.

“Although we are the first distillery here in Nevada, we had to differentiate ourselves from other companies,” distillery co-founder Katalin Racz said. “There is no point in making it the same as others.”

Here are seven spirits the Raczes hope to sell in the Las Vegas Valley:

    • Las Vegas Distillery set to open
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Nevada Vodka

      The first product from the Las Vegas Distillery to be released, Nevada Vodka will hit store shelves starting July 25. Brewed with 100 percent wheat from Winnemucca Farms, Racz says the vodka will have a spicier and more distinctive flavor than mass-produced vodkas.

      The vodka already is distilled and is sitting in large tanks in the warehouse. Bottling begins this week, and the public is invited to fill a 750-milliliter bottle from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the next two weeks.

      The bottles will be labeled and shipped to a nearby liquor store, where enthusiasts can purchase them for $24.99.

    • Las Vegas Distillery set to open
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Vegas Whiskey

      Although most whiskeys are made with one or two grains, Vegas Whiskey uses seven. The seven grains — wheat, corn, barley, rye, spelt, oat and millet — are used like spices in cooking, Racz said, and give the whiskey a distinctive taste. Racz said he’s never heard of a whiskey made with more than four grains. He decided to use seven in his creation because “seven is a lucky number and we are Vegas.”

      Vegas Whiskey already has been distilled and is aging in oak barrels stacked along the walls of the warehouse. It’s due to hit shelves in November. Racz has reserved 111 seven-gallon barrels — a total of 777 gallons — to be sold as part of a membership to the distillery’s Founder’s Club, which will cost $777.

    • Las Vegas Distillery set to open
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Nevada Bourbon

      Racz has big plans for his Nevada Bourbon, which is a whiskey made using a corn-based mash. Several large empty barrels sit along a wall of the warehouse waiting to be filled. The white bourbon, the term for an unaged whiskey, will be available for tasting at the July 22 grand opening. After that, it will be put into barrels and left to age for three years. Racz plans for the spirit to be available in 2014 to coincide with the state’s 150th birthday.

      “You can taste how it is now … and then in three years when Nevada is 150, the first edition will come out. That is fantastic timing.”

    • More Las Vegas Distillery
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Rumskey

      An idea that came to Racz only two weeks ago, rumskey is a combination of rum and whiskey that he says has never been distilled before.

      Different from simply mixing rum and whiskey in a glass together, Racz plans to make a rum base from molasses and put it in his still opposite his seven-grain whiskey base. The two will be distilled together, creating a new drink that “takes the best of two worlds.”

      “I’d like for there to be as much flavor from both,” he said. “This is something that will put Las Vegas on the map. It’s a brand new spirit.”

      Although he’s not entirely sure how it will turn out, Racz and his wife are confident the drink will catch on and will give bartenders something fun and new to make cocktails with.

      “It cannot be bad,” Katalin Racz said. “The rum is good; the whiskey is good.”

      The white rumskey will be available for tasting at the distillery’s grand opening. Afterward, it will be put into oak barrels, some of which will age for six months, while others sit for a year or more.

    • More Las Vegas Distillery
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Summerlin Rye and Henderson Wheat Whiskeys

      Although still in the early stages, Racz has plans to release two separate whiskeys named after some of the valley’s largest communities. Although bourbon is made with a predominantly corn base, these whiskeys will feature rye and wheat as their primary ingredients, respectively. One hundred and forty gallons of Henderson Wheat Whiskey is aging and Racz plans to make the Summerlin Rye soon. Racz said it would probably be at least five months before either can be found in liquor stores.

    • More Las Vegas Distillery
      Photo by Steve Marcus

      Gin

      Typically made from a spirit of corn and barley flavored with juniper berries, the gin continues the manufacturer’s penchant for adding unusual flavors and grains. In addition to traditional ingredients, the triple-distilled gin will include coriander seed, cadmium pots and angelica root.

      “We wanted to experiment and see what we got,” Katalin Racz said. “We had a recipe, but making large quantities required something different.”

      The gin will be available for tasting at the grand opening and will be sold starting in September.

      George Racz said he hopes one day to design a spirit specifically for notable gin enthusiast Oscar Goodman’s tastes, then name it after the former mayor.

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