In 2015, Yeates was on a skiing trip with friends in Alaska. They found themselves winding down in the evenings at a local distillery. "It kind of brought us all together," he says. "I was pretty inspired by it."
Yeates saw an opportunity in craft distilling and wanted to build a brand around experiences. "We're all pretty outdoorsy," he says. "We're trying to create a brand where our spirits align with that."
Yeates knew he could supply the strategy, marketing and finance side of the business. He just needed to find to a head distiller to bring the production know how. A mutual friend put him in touch with Scott Coburn, then at High West Distillery in Park City, Utah. "Scott was looking for an opportunity where he could insert some creativity into it and we were looking for someone to bring in that expertise and have creativity," Yeates says. "It was a perfect fit." Coburn heads up the technical side from recipe building to overseeing the distillation process.
Mythology Distillery has a tasting room in Denver but the main focus is distribution. "We're in about 75 accounts, and we're adding anywhere between five to seven a week right now," Yeates says. As Mythology is currently self-distributed, the focus now is the Denver metro area but plans are in place to expand into the Western Slope as well.
Their premier product, Hell Bear American Whiskey, a blend of a 30-month rye with a four-year and a five-year bourbon, has been winning awards. "You get that nice floral off the rye on the nose, pick up a lot of that strong spice character of the rye on the palate, but then it finishes really nicely with that vanilla caramel of the bourbon," says Yeates, praising Eagle Rare and Peach Street Distilling's five-year bourbon as guideposts.
Needle Pig Gin debuted in June. "We've been working on our gin for the last three years," Yeates says. "A delicious modern dry gin, goes great in a cocktail, juniper forward, hints of other botanicals."
Mythology just released a Syrah-finished whiskey. "We take our Hell Bear Whiskey and let it rest in Syrah wine barrels for seven months," Yeates says. The barrels, sourced from Dominio IV Wines in Carlton, Oregon, are still wet when Mythology receives them. "It adds a lot of big fruit characteristics," Yeates says. "I recommend it as a neat whiskey."
Mythology also produces Chatter Wolf Vodka from locally sourced grain (90 percent rye and 10 percent barley) and Feather Jester Rum. "It's a real earthy rum," Yeates says. "We use a Belgian yeast strain that imparts tropical fruit esters. It's almost brandy-esque."
The distillery uses a custom-built Vendome copper still. Current production is about 15,000 liters a year, as Yeates explores the possibility of another production facility to double current capacity.
Canned cocktails are coming soon. "We hope to release the canned cocktail line later this year," Yeates says. "We have the spirits and a great bar staff who can come up with cocktails."
As someone who appreciates the great Colorado outdoors, Yeates emphasizes conservation. "In Colorado, the mountains are our backyard so we want to do our part in trying to preserve it," Yeates says. "We've made some significant investment in using sustainable business practices."
That includes reducing energy consumption and recycling as much as possible in the production facility. "We have a closed loop chiller, a closed loop steam boiler, and we're circulating through and back to the steam boiler," Yeates says.
Mythology also works with Scraps. "They come by on their bikes to pick up our compost and take it to a local nursery. Anything we don't compost, we recycle, and we barely take the trash out here."
Challenges: Expansion and exposure. "Every day there's some kind of challenge," Yeates says. "It's a challenge and it's fun."
Opportunities: "We see a huge opportunity in canned cocktails," Yeates says.
He also sees opportunity in craft spirits. Currently, about 2 percent of the U.S. spirits mark is craft, compared to about 25 percent for craft beer. "The consumer is wanting something that's higher quality, wanting something they have a connection to," Yeates says. "Working together with other distilleries and within the industry, we can be that."
Needs: Regulatory continuity. "Distilleries receive a pretty good tax break to promote additional investment with excise taxes and that's set to expire," Yeates says. "We're hoping they extend that tax break."