Necessity is the mother of invention, turns out, it’s also the aunt of success.
Like many healthy University students, Chris Leurig felt driven to fuel his college parties with a cheaper alternative to store bought spirits, so he made his own moonshine. After graduation from the University of New Mexico, he returned to his home state of Texas and having been bitten by the distilling bug, decided he wanted to learn more about the craft.
As BENDT distilling was just a few minutes down the road, Chris knocked on the door and offered his services. He worked full time, earning just $100 per week, but after a few months, had proved to management that he was a hard worker with a knack for distilling, so they put him on staff, working on a unique 80 HL distilling system made by Specific Mechanical.
Not long thereafter, Chris was practically running the plant and after a couple of years decided to branch out on his own. He missed the snowboarding near “Duke City”, Albuquerque’s nickname, so moved back to his college town. He and his dad found a great building and made plans to open the distillery. Knowing the quality and capability of the Specific equipment, Chris ordered a new 300 gallon still.
Built in the 1930’s, it was originally home to the National Cash Register Company. Later in life it became a bank and when discovered by the Leurig father and son team, it still had all the old safes and vaults…hence the name, Safe House Distilling.
They opened just weeks before COVID hit and so were forced to pivot from their original plans. Instead of Vodka and Gin, they made over 10,000 gallons of hand sanitizer.
Once production of spirits began, their products carried names fitting the history of the building: Teller Vodka, followed by Lock Pick Gin.
They also had the unique “Vault Collection” with special releases sold only at the distillery. Both spirits flew off the local shelves and Chris had to ramp up production to keep up with the demand.
At the same time, ready-to-drink canned cocktails came on to the scene and Chris hit the market with two Vodka-infused Lemonades: Blueberry Lavender and Grapefruit Hibiscus. To say these products were a success would be the understatement of the century. He quickly added two more RTDs which proved equally as popular and the canned cocktails have become his biggest product.
Chris is the first to admit, nothing is better than a craft cocktail from your local bartender. Canned cocktails on the other hand, offer a simple and accessible option for customers to enjoy their favorites wherever they are. Much more than just adding vodka to soda, there’s a real art and science to developing a delicious canned cocktail. While your local bar has fresh produce like limes and oranges, it is difficult to master the art of re-creating the balance of taste, aroma, and texture in an all-natural, RTD can. The overwhelming demand would suggest Chris has mastered that art.
For Chris Leurig and the Safe House Distillery, the hits just keep on coming, as this summer will be the debut of the long anticipated “Prophet Share Bourbon”.
Quietly aging in American oak barrels for the past 3 years, they are now ready to release the first batch to the anxious Duke City residents. Albuquerque is buzzing and there’s no doubt they’ll be lined up until every bottle is gone.
Chris Leurig’s midas touch means expansion is in his immediate future. He is currently planning two new huge production warehouses, one of which will contain another still from Specific Mechanical, dedicated to the production of Bourbon.
In the space of 10 short years, two and a half of which were affected by covid, Chris’ hard work has taken him from college student to a spirit tycoon. Buckle up for the next decade.