When he first added a large chunk of a charred aspen wood disc into a mason jar of rye whiskey in the fall of 2010, it was just an experiment. But when Owen Locke ’95 tried the whiskey months later, it tasted really good. Welcome Locke + Co. Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey, launched in 2016 with his best friend Rick Talley. Owen is a sixth generation Coloradan and his four times great grandparents (Luis F Bartels) owned Denver’s first liquor store downtown. Rick and Owen have known each other since high school in Littleton and reconnected when they were both at graduate school at the University of Denver. Since launching Locke + Co., Owen has perfected the whiskey’s taste. It spends two years in oak barrels and then eight months with a piece of hand cut/hand charred aspen wood disc. The wood comes from family property in Fairplay. After sustainably cutting down an aspen tree, Rick and Owen let the wood “season” for 12 months, then sand off the bark before they hand char each piece. And that’s where the magic happens. Charring the aspen wood caramelizes the sugars in the whiskey and helps to bring out its best flavors while making it super smooth. Owen hopes to continue growing the company, releasing single barrel unfiltered rye whiskey, selling in new markets outside of Colorado, opening their own facility for production, and collaborating on special releases. A truly Coloradan born and bred whiskey.