By Dylan Hochstedler
There is a distillery in Buena Vista that is forcing itself out of the box.
“Craft beer has this really cool ability to bounce between complete devotion to tradition and out of the box innovation,” said Deerhammer Distilling Companyfounder and distiller Lenny Eckstein. “Whiskey on the other hand … it’s a friggin’ snooze fest of near exacting commonality between producers across the country.”
This is what caused Deerhammer to launch its Progeny Series: out-of-the-box whiskey collaborations that the Buena Vista distiller has started with several other Colorado artisans.
The first installment of the Progeny Series comes in collaboration with Denver-based Cultura Craft Chocolate.
“We try to work with companies that mirror our own style and creativity, and can lend something unique to our existing whiskey making processes,” Eckstein said.
Deerhammer’s collab with Cultura is the first of the ongoing series and Eckstein hopes to release two or three unique offerings in the Progeny Series each year. Although Deerhammer hasn’t announced release dates, expect collaborations from Call to Arms Brewing Co., Elevation Beer Co., Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Colorado Cider Co. and High Alpine Brewing Co. in the future.
As for the collaboration with Cultura, Eckstein explained that the chocolate company aged its cacao nibs in Deerhammer’s barrels to produce a chocolate bar, which he said tasted amazing. Then, Deerhammer re-utilized old casks that had been ‘seasoned’ with Guatemalan cacao to further age its two-year single malt whiskey. The result is a true American whiskey with a perfect hint of chocolate.
“From day one at Deerhammer, we knew we wanted to challenge whiskey convention with small batch experiments and our Progeny Series is the perfect way to do this,” Eckstein said.
Only 556 bottles of the chocolate whiskey were produced and they are down to less than 100 bottles for sale in the taproom. Deerhammer won't distribute their first or second installment in the Progeny Series, but it hopes to distribute the third release to select accounts.
Deerhammer’s next installment will be a collaboration with northwest Denver-based Call to Arms Brewing Company.
“We gave them a few of our freshly dumped American single-malt barrels, which they filled with an imperial Vienna lager,” Eckstein said. “Then we re-filled with two-year single malt, which then sat for another year in those barrels.”
Eckstein says the Call to Arms collaboration is ready. He is just waiting on the bottle labels to arrive. It should be for sale in the tasting room sometime this month.