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Longmont distillery expands its roots

Despite the impacts of COVID, Copper Sky Distillery is expanding.

After about two years of business Copper Sky Distillery has outgrown its location on Colorado Avenue and is moving its operations to the South Main Street area.

The veteran-owned distillery specializing in whiskey and rum opened its doors in 2020 at 1115 Colorado Ave, not long before pandemic closures weighed on Copper Sky’s taproom. But despite the hurdles, the young distillery grew fast with wholesale and needs a larger space to meet its demand, according to owner and founder Mike Root.

“The biggest part of our growth is our wholesale. So we opened, we opened our doors here a couple weeks before the governor shut the whole state down and so that included, like we couldn't have customers inside,” Root said. “So we just pivoted and said, ‘Alright, if we can't serve people here, we'll go serve them out there.’ And we just hit all over the state and set up accounts and got our whiskey out there.”

The new location set to open in late April at 110 Emery St. will more than double its space at approximately 6,700 square feet and Root said the distillery has been in need of an upgrade for some time to meet its market demand. 

Since opening in 2020, Copper Sky has grown its presence in Colorado and beyond with accounts in five states. It has since earned multiple awards including two Spring 2021 “double gold” awards from the John Barley Awards for its American Light Whiskey and Wheated Bourbon, and Platinum from the 2021 ASCOT Awards to name a few.

Copper Sky will join the growing South Main Street area that formerly housed the Butterball Turkey plant until it shuttered in 2011. Since the plant closed, revitalization efforts led to the multiuse South Main Station project with apartments and commercial units facing Main Street.

“We'll just be able to serve more people,” Root said. “We're going to be more centrally located to our clients, which is better for them as well.”

Along with more space for production, the taproom and entertainment space will see a size upgrade. Copper Sky currently has one bar and uses its space to host live music. The Emery Street location will give way to two bars. There will be two private rooms near the front bar, closed off behind barn doors so parties up to four can enjoy secluded seating for dates and meetings. The second bar will be Copper Sky’s speakeasy lounge that can be rented out for private parties

“We'll have two very unique bars available to serve our clients and the speakeasy I think is going to really set us apart, because when you go to distilleries you mostly get like that typical tasting room feel,” Root said. “We're going to be renting that out for private parties, events, but it's going to be, you know, private access, leather chairs, low tops, low lighting, relaxed music, super chill environment.”

Copper Sky’s new home will have new office space for the distillery’s staff that grew from four to 11 people since launching. Root said he attributes Copper Sky’s growth to his staff and their connection to their customers. He added that having the wholesale business as the backbone of Copper Sky’s sales allows them to take a relaxed approach to the tasting room and build relationships with regulars.

“When [customers] come here, we bring them in the back and let them see how we do things and how we make cocktails,” Root said. “We're very open and so the customers really enjoy, like feeling included in our processes and our growth. And so we relay that to them, like, ‘Hey, we're all growing together.’”

Support from Longmont customers and the local business community is what led to Copper Sky’s ability to expand, Root said. He said the distillery does what it can to return the sentiment such as donating all proceeds from its 9/11 Commemorative bottle set to Longmont Police and Fire Departments. The two bottle sets launched last year for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and Copper Sky still has some on its taproom shelves.

“We're just really excited to have people that are in this space and continue to grow here in Longmont, because to me, I equate our growth to being able to help more in our community,” Root said.

Root originally planned on founding Copper Sky in Colorado Springs, where he was living at the time. But after his friend told him about an available space, the current Colorado Avenue location, he felt like his brand belonged in Longmont. When Copper Sky opens its new facility and taproom in April, the distillery’s roots will dig deeper into its home and make room for growth.

Ali Mai

About the Author: Ali Mai

Ali Mai is freelance writer and photographer, covering business for the Longmont Leader. She writes the weekly column "Longmont Local."
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