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What's in a Tasting Room?

By Mark A. Vierthaler

Distiller/Bar Guy

It’s usually by the fifth version of the drink that you become discouraged.

Like an elusive song lyric that continues to dance just out of reach, you know there’s a bit of genius deep down in the drink but something about it just isn’t clicking.

It’s about the time that you say screw it, reach for some cheap beer and toss your kit into the fire pit. Lurking around every corner is the beast of temptation, inviting you to sit back and – for the love of all that is holy – just go back to pouring samples of your juice. Keep it clean and simple.

But if there’s one thing we’ve never been short on at Boot Hill Distillery, it’s gumption mixed with audacity.

We relaunched the Tasting Room June 1st. Well, we did a “soft” relaunch.  The “FULL” relaunch will come this July. But in the meantime, we’re in transition. And transition can oftentimes be painful. But it can also be incredibly rewarding.

Customers in The Tasting Room at Boot Hill Distillery

What we’ve created with The Tasting Room at Boot Hill Distillery – or rather, what we hope we’ve created – is a chimera. It’s part distillery tasting room, part classroom, part cocktail bar, part neighborhood haunt, part laboratory. It’s an amalgamation of so many different concepts, molded into the kind of place where each one of us wants to drink.

It’s equal parts high-brow abstraction and down-home charm. And we can’t wait to share it with you.

But, Why?

Three reasons: Education. Expansion. Community.

Each one of us here at Boot Hill Distillery came to distillation for different reasons.

The Tasting Room came from our shared loved of cocktails. A shared love of mixing spirits, crafting something out of nothing to create a culinary experience that draws people together.

And it was that affection for the mixed drink that led us to want to break our process down even further. If the key to a great cocktail is a great base spirit, then we could take ultimate ownership by making our own spirits. To be able to craft something that stands equally by itself, while serving as starring or even supporting role.

Hayes Kelman fills a bourbon barrell

And like any good professional, the more you learn the more you begin to realize how little you know. We threw ourselves into developing our products, selecting the grains to plant and grow, finding the best ways to mill and mash, tweaking our fermentation a few degrees either way. Learning the proper ways to romance the stills to produce a product that we would be proud to drink ourselves as well as serve to our guests.

And as you deepen that knowledge, it’s only natural to want to share it. To be able to share the joy and knowledge that amazing cocktails can be mixed, and there’s a reason you mix specific spirits in specific ways.


We want The Tasting Room to be a classroom. Education benefits all.

We want to bring people into our fold: people who may not like hard spirits, people who have only ever had whatever was cheapest, people who have yet to find a spirit that clicks with them. When people visit The Tasting Room, we want to offer a level of understanding and engagement that goes above and beyond “This drink sure is swell.”

Lee Griffith educates visitors about Boot Hill Distillery

The cocktail world can be intimidating for the uninitiated. A very fine line has to be tread so that we don’t make our drinks inaccessible. That’s why each of the cocktails on the new menu features ingredients that are easily procurable even in rural areas like Dodge City, Kansas.

Just because we don’t have the same access to unique ingredients, doesn’t mean we can’t create world-class drinks within The Tasting Room. This also underlines to our visitors that they can do the exact same thing at home.


There’s beauty in simplicity. I would be hard-pressed to know of anything more refreshing than an ice-cold, cheap yellow beer straight out of the bottle after a long day of sweaty, back-breaking labor.

But you can take that beauty and that simplicity, you can add just a bit more effort to it, and you can raise the bar when it comes to drinking. (Pun most definitely intended.)


All of this is a lot of high-minded rhetoric. And if we put all this thought into everything and the drinks are terrible, then we’ve wasted our time, our money, and our passion. And so, at the end of the day, we want The Tasting Room to be where you come to relax. Where you come to gather to celebrate victory or to mourn your defeats.

Mark A. Vierthaler pours a cocktail inside The Tasting Room

The new menu in The Tasting Room now boasts 26 cocktails (not including our Classics list), ranging from simple and balanced to intense and ambitious.

The history of spirits is the history of civilization itself. And whether you come to us to learn and share our passion, or you simply come to relax and enjoy a cocktail you can’t get anywhere else, we open our doors with open arms.

We can’t wait to invite you back to our home. Come in and sit. Let’s chat a bit. Stay a while, won’t you?

Distillery Photo