London calling: Distillery 291 wins best rye at the World Whiskies Awards

On Thursday, March 22, the World Whiskies Awards dinner took place at The Waldorf Hilton in London, to present the icon, country and world category winners. Distillery 291, from Colorado Springs, Colorado, who recently claimed the title of “Best American Rye” also receives the distinguished honor of “World’s Best Rye.”

“It’s amazing, it’s phenomenal,” says Michael Myers, owner of Distillery 291. “When they called out 291 I was trying to be a good soldier and post the story for Instagram. As I was walking up to the stage, the editor of “Whisky Magazine” gave me the award, a nice lucite, cube that says “World’s Best Rye” and then we drank more.”

Whisky Magazine editor, Rob Allanson (left), and chair of judges, Charlie MacLean (right), present Michael Myers (center), owner of Distillery 291, the award for “World’s Best Rye.” Photo credit: Distillery 291

Myers tells RMFR that the dinner consists of approximately 30 tables all garnished with different bottles of whiskey for the guests of honor to taste while accepting accolades for their contributions to the craft. Whisky Live follows the awards ceremony with a sampling event held on Friday, March 23, and Saturday, March 24, where 291 and participating distilleries share pours of their whiskies straight from the barrel.

RMFR catches up with Myers while he’s still in London, fresh off his invigorating achievement and we ask him to break down the secrets to 291’s continuous success.

“It’s a lot of hard work from my team,” says Myers. “Just a lot of love and a little bit of my special process.”

Myer’s view in jolly old London town. Photo credit: Distillery 291

Just as Myers told RMFR during our interview after his award for “Best American Rye,” he continues to circle back to the talent pool of passionate distillers he ranks amongst while acknowledging that 291 is clearly on the right path to concocting standout whiskey.

“There are a lot of people working really hard, as hard as I am, or maybe even harder to make the best spirit daily,” says Myers. “I don’t know what it takes… but I do because I am making really great whiskey. It just works and things come together.”

After such an accomplishment we wonder aloud how does 291 even improve upon their current status?

“It’s not about going up,” says Myers. “It’s about continuing to make a great product and keeping consistent.”

Although the sentiment of streamlining their techniques seems logical, Myers also recognizes and explains that “what won today may not win next year or five years from now.”

“It’s going to have to be better and be different than what’s expected,” says Myers. “We’ll keep putting in the love we do making whiskey and hopefully it just keeps paying off.”

Myers also shares that Distillery 291 secures distribution throughout the United Kingdom and across Europe with unique labels specific for those areas made by That Boutique-y Whisky Company which he describes as having a “kind of cartoonish” design approach.

That Boutique-y Whisky Co. produces animated specialty labels for Europe and the U.K. Photo credit: Distillery 291

The artistic parallels in Myers career are undeniable as we discuss how he seamlessly transitions from an acclaimed fashion photographer in New York to now, a world-renowned whiskey distiller. We ask him specifically how he feels about realizing both his passions and actively pursuing two very different career paths with such fulfillment.

“I’m living that dream, twice,” says Myers. “I had amazing years and jobs and friends and I have the same in my whiskey career but far more, but without my photography career would I be here? Probably not. It’d be a different whiskey.”

Yet again he digresses away from personal recognition and focuses on the company itself and the culmination of Colorado’s presence as a whole which acts as a force to be reckoned within the craft spirits industry.

“In 2016 we won best American rye, Laws won best American and world rye in 2017, now 291 wins again in 2018 for America and the world,” says Myers. “For Colorado to be winning these awards three years in a row is huge and unbelievable. Colorado is crushing it.”