Smoke Wagon's Founder
Founded by Jonathan an Aaron, a screenwriter and a bar owner who saw “eye to eye” on the bar business and decided to launch The Griffin. They acquired a refined taste from late night samplings of inventory and embarked on an adventure of passion, becoming the first distillery in Las Vagas.
Aaron has made it to New York and is touring around with his larger than life personality, spreading the word about Smoke Wagon. Giving everyone an in-person taste for what they’re all about. We couldn’t be more excited to meet him!
The Story Behind Their Bottles
Aaron was the mastermind behind the bottle designs and had a very clear vision of what he wanted. The raised imagery of desert sage, the Nevada state flower, can be found on the Silver Dollar bottle as well as the amber Smoke Wagon bottles and in the label of the Straight Bourbon.
The Morgan silver dollar (replicated on the bottle's face) was minted in Carson city, the state capitol. It is the perfect symbol and name for their vodka due to its Nevada significance and the fact that silver dollar vodka is silver filtered.
Smoke Wagon? Does that mean it's smokey? Smoke Wagon is actually old west slang for the 1873 Colt single action army revolver or "the gun that won the west". Their logo stamped in wax consists of two crossed Smoke Wagons over the state of Nevada. Below it is their motto and a quote from Seneca, bibamus moriendum est. The literal translation is "drink, for we must die" but the meaning is more along the lines of, drink and enjoy today because we won't be around forever. We can only assume Seneca meant to drink responsibly, of course.
The Story of Nevada H&C Distilling Co. in TheIR OWN WORDS:
Jonathan: The story? You mean our story? Oh boy. You’d have to go back to August, 2004. I’d finished work just after midnight and gone to check out this joint in Eagle Rock (a Bohemian section of Los Angeles) that had just been named “Best New Bar” by Los Angeles Magazine.
Aaron: I remember that night, somebody said hey there’s that local screenwriter. I thought he looked like a homeless guy or a serial killer.
Jonathan: Cut me some slack, I was under deadline. Serial killers are never homeless by the way.
Aaron: He turned out to be an okay guy.
Jonathan: Thirteen years in business together and I’m an “okay guy.” This is what I deal with.
Aaron: Anyhow... we saw eye to eye on the bar business and decided to launch something new. And The Griffin was born.
Jonathan: Best decision I ever made.
Aaron: Yeah it definitely worked out—So, after a few years of late night “samplings of our inventory...”
Jonathan: A euphemism if there ever was one....
Aaron: We found ourselves talking a little, then A LOT, about what we liked in certain bourbons and vodkas.
Jonathan: And what we didn’t like.
Aaron: Then one night...
Jonathan: The light bulb blinked on. I think we both knew where the conversation was heading.
Aaron: Making our own juice.
Jonathan: It was a bold idea but we both said fu...
Aaron: Hey! Watch your language. See what I deal with?
Jonathan: Tell them about where we set up shop. It was actually a no-brainer.
Aaron: Because we love Las Vegas!
Jonathan: Becoming the first distillery in the city was an adventure.
Aaron: The Las Vegas City Council had to create a license for us since none existed!
Jonathan: Then things got real.
Aaron: Really real. Making diamonds in your sphincter cause it's clenched so tight real.
Jonathan: We’d never dealt with distilling equipment before, didn’t know our ass from our...
Aaron: But getting our equipment to pass building inspection was so much fun, then having the state laws change which forced us to redo everything....
Jonathan: Things might have gone quicker if you hadn’t insisted on ordering a proprietary silver filtration system from a country I’d never heard...
Aaron: Hey now! You’re giving our secret away!
Jonathan: Then of course we had to get our bottles and packaging together.
Jonathan: Ugh is right. Due mostly to “Mr. Do It Yourself” here insisting on designing and engineering everything. Himself. When there are people you can hire to do that.
Aaron: There are?
Jonathan: Yes. They’re called “Designers” and “Engineers.”
Aaron: Oh yes, those people. The ones that told us we couldn't put the silver dollar dead center on the bottle or use amber glass for our bourbon bottles.
Jonathan: But I gotta admit our bottles and packaging are pretty bitchin.
Aaron: Well thanks, partner.
Jonathan: All in all the process took six years. But fortunately...
Aaron: Some good actually came from all the waiting.
Jonathan: During all the delays we kept laying down new bourbon distillate using our high rye content mash bill, and now it was all coming of age!
Aaron: So once we were able to open, we hit the ground running.
Aaron: And that's how we got here.
Jonathan: We have big-time passion for what we’re doing and are both grateful for the opportunity. We take pride in the products.
Aaron: And of course we're not done yet. As the new barrels mature we get more opportunities to experiment with new blends...
Jonathan: Yeah right. He’ll be “experimenting with new blends” tonight in the Griffin until 4 a.m.
Aaron: See what I have to deal with?