Eagle’s 808 Distillery wins gold medal at Breck craft spirits festival | VailDaily.com

Eagle’s 808 Distillery wins gold medal at Breck craft spirits festival

Jeff Leonardo and Claude Seeman, founders of 808 Distillery in Eagle, celebrate the gold medal awarded for Leo’s Limoncello during the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival.
Krista Driscoll / kdriscoll@summitdaily.com |

A local distillery’s lemons came up gold.

808 Distillery’s Leo’s Limoncello earned a gold medal in Breckenridge’s Still on the Hill craft spirits festival on Oct. 25.

“It was amazing to win a gold medal on our first trip to Breckenridge,” said 808’s Claude Seeman. “There were 30 distilleries at the event. To be included and win a gold medal among this elite group of distilleries is an incredible honor. That made it even more prestigious for us.”

The fifth annual Still on the Hill featured 30 craft distillers, all making cocktails. Each distillery could enter two spirits into a variety of categories.

The spirits were judged in a double blind taste test by a panel of industry experts: Tom Fischer, host and producer of BourbonBlog, Nancy Fraley, writer and organoleptic analysis expert, and Eric Watson, international beverage consultant.

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The panel awarded six gold and 15 silver judgments.

The awards were based on the quality of each spirit with regard to taste, smell and integrity. “This format of judging helps raise the quality of the emerging craft spirits industry as a whole because our products are being judged on their intrinsic merit,” said Jordan Via, master distiller at Breckenridge Distillery.

90 proof/recession proof

Seeman and Jeff Leonardo wanted to thrive through the recession and enjoy themselves, so, they opened 808 Distillery in Eagle and named it after their street address in Eagle.

Their reasoning was simple: “When the economy is bad, people drink. When the economy is good, people drink.”

Microbreweries are popping up all over, and custom distilleries are following suit.

In 2000, there were distilleries in only 12 states. As of 2011, 45 states had them.

When in 2003, 86 people showed up for the first meeting, mostly old friends.

The U.S. is now home to 623 craft distilleries. Bill Owens founded the American Distilling Institute Owens said the number could rise to 750 by the end of this year.

You can buy 808 products at Eagle Liquormart, Riverwalk Wine & Spirits, West Vail Liquormart and a few local restaurants, such as The Rose and e|town.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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