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Whistling Hare distills more than whiskey

Sandy Rothe hopes to turn the business into a family legacy.
Whistling Hare Distilling

Sandy Rothe fell in love with distilling in Napa Valley. He loved being outside and sharing a drink with friends, so he came back to Colorado hoping to bring that experience home. However, wine grapes are not great options for the Front Range, so he switched over to Single Malt Scotch Whiskey and is now the owner of Whistling Hare Distillery

Rothe worked full time at a global accounting and consulting firm. With retirement not too far away, he thought learning about distilling would be a fun new project, so he traveled to Scotland to learn. 

“I went to Scotland to “Whisky School” at one of the oldest, family-owned distilleries in Scotland that still did all aspects of distilling on-site. Their 80+ year old distiller, who is in the Scotland Whisky Hall of Fame, was the instructor. This convinced me I wanted to continue this pursuit,” Rothe said. 

Rothe said he has loved doing something more entrepreneurial after advising others with their business for 40 years and loves to experiment and innovate. Whistling Hare Distillery has tried a variety of combinations of mash bills and experimented with many different barrels. According to Rothe, barrels are extremely important and influential on the flavor.

Rothe said his family is greatly involved in the business and there are great joys and struggles with keeping the business so close to home. 

“My boys love the idea of the distillery and are never shy about providing me their ‘counsel.’ They certainly help but are not yet involved full time. As we scale up, this may change. We all are working to make this a family legacy,” Rothe said. 

Whistling Hare Distillery likes to keep ingredients close to home as well. 

“Craft is inherently about being local and exploiting what the local community can provide,” Rothe said, adding that, “sourcing locally and being sustainable is good business that makes economic sense so it is easy to make a central part of our process. Many consumers virtually demand it.”

Rothe adds Colorado enables Whistling Hare to use interesting local ingredients and embody the feeling of community one feels when sitting around a fireplace or on the side of a mountain. 

“Being Colorado-based has many advantages not the least of which is the outdoor environment. So many people on the Front Range head to the mountains whenever they can and we want them to take us with them. We want people to visit us, learn about our spirits and then share that experience with their friends and family” Rothe said.