Sipping and Savoring the Art of Whiskey

Photos: courtesy Breckenridge Distillery

Photos: courtesy Breckenridge Distillery

Breck Distillery Expanding its Look with Artists

By Katie Coakley

Take a trip to the Breckenridge Distillery—the world’s highest distillery at 9,600 feet—and you’ll find evidence of the owners’ passion for art (and Bill Murray) adorning the walls of the restaurant. But this summer, the award-winning distillery displayed the connection between art and whiskey to a whole new medium: whiskey barrels.  

On July 30, Breckenridge Distillery embarked upon its inaugural Collectors Art Series, a collaboration with Denver-based muralist Thomas “Detour” Evans that illustrates the art of blending whiskey through the art of blending color. The resulting “whiskey barrel mural” spanned 10 Breckenridge Distillery barrels to illuminate a unique blend of these two crafts for both art and whiskey enthusiasts to enjoy. 

Detour is known for his bold, colorful and eye-catching portraits of minority and urban subjects. His work can be seen in RiNo (he recently participated in CRUSH walls) and Colorado Springs, as well as around the country. His month-long futuristic and interactive art exhibit and musical journey dubbed The 5 Pointers will open at RedLine Gallery on Nov. 8.  

“My philosophy with creating art on various platforms is all about trying to compose a piece that lends itself to amplify that platform,” Detour said. “So, for the barrels, creating a composition that has large color blocks, but also relates to the actual subject matter—so, Breckenridge-in-the-mountains type of the thing—and then having a figure, which can give you more of an attachment to it. That is the concept I was going for when creating on this platform/canvas.”  

The barrels have been on display at Breckenridge Distillery since their creation, catching the eyes—and cameras—of visitors. 

“They’ve been getting a lot of attention; there’s buzz about it,” said Jessie Unruh, marketing manager for Brackenridge Distillery. “People have been taking pictures by (the barrels) and posting it to social media.” 

On Friday, Oct. 25, Breckenridge Distillery hosted an exclusive tasting of the newest grain-to-bottle bourbon at the distillery before the bottles hit shelves in Colorado. The barrels, too, will be traveling to various liquor stores in the Denver area to showcase the special edition Bourbon adorned with Detour’s artwork. You can find bottles at

Art barrels in barrel room.png

“Proper blending is an art, not easily learned, and something I'm sincerely passionate about,” said Bryan Nolt, founder and CEO of Breckenridge Distillery. “We wanted to emphasize this connection with another type of art that people could identify with and hopefully pause for a second or two, connect the dots, and really enjoy the art in their dram. Smell and taste are just as powerful as vision, and we think focus helps you to intensify these subtle pleasures.”

The Detour series is the first in the Breckenridge Distillery Barrel Art Collectors Series. Approximately 1,100 bottles will be available at a price point of around $125, depending on the retailer. The second iteration of this series, featuring work from another artist, will premiere in 2020.

"I think the artistry of making and blending whiskey parallels the passion of artists like Detour and the splendor his works deliver,” Nolt said. “This collaboration is simply about evoking those emotions through graffiti and the artistry of whiskey."