Verdi Local Distillery, fourth distillery in Nevada, releases first whiskey

Verdi Local Distillery

This panel controls the two stills at Verdi Local Distillery. The panel stands next to a small desk in the center of the room. Photo by Mike Higdon.

Nevada’s newest distillery opens this week with Apple Cinnamon Whiskey, batch one

On Old Highway 40 off I-80, one mile from the California border, an unassuming little house sits between a saloon and coffee shop. Until this week, the building with the cowboy silhouette painted on the front held little significance for anyone driving through Verdi. But after a renovation transformed it into Nevada’s newest craft distillery, people won’t want to pass it by.

Verdi Local Distillery, the fourth craft distillery in the state, specializes in flavored whiskeys. It may also be the smallest distillery in the world, pending recognition from Guinness World Records. It’s certainly the smallest one in Nevada at 744 square feet.

Inside the renovated home, an eclectic mix of cozy decor greets distillery visitors. On the left, historical images pasted to the wall tell the story of prohibition, Verdi and the new distillery. In the middle, a bar made of reclaimed wood beams from a burned down house waits for patrons to sit and drink. And on the right, two tiny 26-gallon stills stand on a pedestal in front of the window while two 80-gallon fermenters bubble away on the other side of the room. Small details add character to the distillery, such as the banjo on the wall and the chandelier gifted by friends. If you ask nicely, owners Jeremy and Katey Baumann may even show you their original painting by John Williams (you’ll know it when you see it).

This week, Verdi Local Distillery’s first batch of Apple Cinnamon Whiskey started selling at the distillery. Soon the whiskey will appear in stores once they settle distribution contracts.  Sazerac’s Fireball Cinnamon Whisky inspired Jeremy and Katey to make something fun and flavorful. Although, they decided to make their whiskey taste good instead of something that “tastes like heaven and burns like hell.”

Their Apple Cinnamon Whiskey starts out as 180-proof white whiskey that reduces to 66-proof flavored whiskey after adding pure apple juice, cinnamon sticks and wood. The combination results in a pleasant flavored liquor reminiscent of grandma’s spiked winter cider. Some locals like their apple whiskey hot with tea for a cider toddy while others prefer it chilled. But no matter how it’s served, most folks call it “BOJ” or Black Out Juice because it’s so easy to drink. Though the whiskey is made from a sugar mash with cornmeal added, instead of a corn or grain mash common with bourbon whiskey, it’s not as sweet as other cloying, flavored drinks.

Behind the bar, little science experiments fill old-fashioned glass flasks. In one, Jeremy combined 180-proof liquor with juniper berries to make a killer jar of gin. Only a quarter-shot required for that gin and tonic. In another, Jeremy filled a flask with white whiskey and hops to make hoppy whiskey. In 5-gallon kegs on the floor, Jeremy is running an experiment to see if he can speed up the aging process. He fills the keg with whiskey and a wood stave, then repeatedly pressurizes and depressurizes the keg to simulate changes in climate. The goal, to see if he can condense 10 years of aging into 10 months.

In the future, Verdi Distillery will release a lemonade whiskey and a berry whiskey for next spring and summer. For now, Jeremy and Katey want to focus on building their business so they don’t need to buy ingredients from the grocery store. Katey also wants to replace the couch in the front with pub tables. She originally thought they would need a place to sleep since distilling takes about 12 hours but luckily she hasn’t had to stay over night yet.

Verdi Local Distillery

First batch stats: Each batch only produces 120 bottles. Batch one comes with a Nevada-shaped leather charm with “Batch One” engrave on it and costs $40. Future batches are $20 a bottle. As with all Nevada distilleries, customers can only buy two bottles per person, per month.

Hours: Tuesday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Contact:  775-247-4628,
Online: Facebook page
Where: 1155 Old Highway 40, Verdi, NV 89439

Correction Aug. 29 at 12:30 p.m.: Corrected volume of fermenters and stills. Experimental whiskey has actual hops in it.

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Mike Higdon

Editor & Publisher at Drinkable Reno
Mike Higdon is a journalist passionate about beer and cocktails. He started the site because no one else covered Reno's growing craft scene at the level of detail required to stay in the know about all things drinkable in Reno.

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