Colorado distilling experts share some of their favorite spirits made by peers.
Peach Street Distillers - Colorado Straight Bourbon
The whiskey I crave changes with weather or social circumstance. To me, whiskey frames the moment. This time of year, I find myself craving distinctively Colorado elements and flavors. Peach Street’s Colorado Straight Bourbon is a favorite. Fruit tree floral with fresh, sanded oak and crushed Rocky Mountain pine cones in the nose. Subdued sweetness, cinnamon sticks, whole wheat toast, cloves, pine bark, and bitter orange peel on the palate. The finish has lingering Bosc pear skin dryness, which tingles with anise, black pepper, and light tobacco smoke.
Alan Laws, Whiskey Disciple and Founder/President of Laws Whiskey House
Golden Moon Distillery - Ex Gratia Génépi
For 30 years, I have had two loves among handcrafted spirits – great aged rum and Chartreuse VEP. I still remember my first sip of Chartreuse VEP – I thought angels had descended to earth and more specifically onto my tongue. I closed my eyes and held the snifter to my nose for a half an hour. I had never tasted anything like it, until recently. Imagine my surprise when I tasted Ex Gratia from Golden Moon Distillery in Golden, Colorado. It is an expertly-crafted Genepi that absolutely rivals the best herbal aperitifs from the 1700s. Nice work, Mr. Gould.
Karen Hoskin, Owner and Founder, Montanya Distillers
Deerhammer Distilling Company - American Single Malt Whiskey
There is a plethora of excellent spirits being made in Colorado right now, and my current favorites are Montanya’s Oro Barrel Aged Rum, Peach Street Distillers’ Peach Brandy and Deerhammer Distilling’s Single Malt Whiskey. I especially like the Deerhammer Whiskey because of the coffee and toffee tastes. These guys are my favorites for a number of reasons. From selection of raw material to fermentation, distillation, aging and bottling, they do everything in house with true craftsmanship, passion and transparency.
P.T. Wood, Alchemist, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery
Laws Whiskey House - Small Batch Secale Straight Rye
Laws makes an incredible grain to bottle rye whiskey in Denver. Compared to most ryes, it has very bold flavors of spice balanced with vanilla and brown sugars. Rich oak and toasted almond comes through on the palate as well, rounding out the spirit with a smooth finish. It’s the perfect rye to drink neat or in a cocktail. Not to mention, the staff at Laws is extremely friendly, and the free tours are an all around good time.
Jordan Stielow, Head Distiller, Breckenridge Distillery
Axe and the Oak Distillery - Whiskey
I enjoy the whiskey from Axe and the Oak Distillery. The most important detail is that these guys have, from the very beginning, done everything from scratch and they have never purchased spirits or cheated like so many distilleries do. The whiskey takes on a nice smooth caramel and brown sugar character, which reminds me of the great bourbons of Kentucky, but with a little lighter, fresher style. Mostly I sip it, but it makes an amazing Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
Victor Matthews, Founder and Master Distiller, Black Bear Distillery
Distillery 291 - Colorado Whiskey
I struggled to come up with one favorite. I finally narrowed it down to three – Breckenridge Bitters, Leopold Bros. Three-Pin and 291’s Colorado “Aspen Stave” Whiskey. I then poured myself a taste of each and gave the matter some more serious consideration. I finally decided upon 291’s Colorado “Aspen Stave” Whiskey. It’s a really nice, spicy sipping whiskey. The addition of the Aspen Stave finish gives it a unique smooth and aromatic quality I like, while maintaining the spice note.
Stephen A Gould, Proprietor/Distiller, Golden Moon Distillery
- Compiled by Dylan Hochstedler