Cousins Ian and Nick Lee opened the gin distillery, Lee Spirits Co., in Colorado Springs in 2013 — and the party hasn’t stopped since. Along with its speakeasy-style tasting room, Brooklyn’s on Boulder St., Lee Spirits pulls in nearly 20 times the revenue it did in 2015, making it one of the Fastest Growing Companies in the city.

“As the craft spirits market space was just starting to grow, we did a bunch of market research and realized that it was about to pop, so we got in on the ground floor,” Ian told the Business Journal in 2015.

Ian Lee grew up in the Springs before he attended school in Nebraska and Arkansas, and then worked in Los Angeles and New York. Finally, he returned home and has since become an active community member, serving on the board of Peak Startup and co-founding his own companies.

“Our Prohibition forefathers had an outlaw spirit, and so do we,” the Lees said in their Fastest Growing nomination form. “With one foot in the past and one foot in the future, we’re challenging the spirits industry and breaking the modern rules of gin and cocktail creation.”

Lee Spirits Co. also crossed state lines this summer and began selling the company’s gin outside Colorado. Expansion is expected to reach 11 states by the end of the year, Ian said. That will likely mean a need for additional employees, another area with which Lee Spirits Co. is familiar. The company started with two employees in 2014, doubled the next year — and now stands at 15. It sells eight products, including dry gin, lavender and cocoa gins and its Alpine Liqueur, “a unique blend of herbs, roots and flowers [in] a spirit that is reminiscent of a spring day in an alpine meadow.”

The company has also increased its accounts from 80 to more than 300.

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“Our company’s continued expansion across the country and specifically Colorado is due to a growing wave of like-minded people coming together and discovering the wonders of drinking more gin,” Lee said. “We’re excited to be at the front of an industry segment and to be a leader in the resurgence of a lost art and product experience.”

Lee said in his nomination form that, across its distribution area and in downtown Colorado Springs, “You’ll find people doing something old while experiencing something new — from your neighborhood watering holes to the lounges at Denver International Airport, from Costco and Total Wine to The Broadmoor and all the hidden speakeasies in downtown Denver — people are finally experiencing the extraordinary in what has become far too ordinary, one sip at a time.”

— Bryan Grossman

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Bryan Grossman
Bryan Grossman has lived in Colorado since 1989 and is a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder. He has been managing editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal since 2017, and has also held the roles of reporter and digital editor with the Business Journal. Grossman has worked in a print journalism newsroom, on and off, since 2004.