Edible Aspen's Colorado Craft Distillery Guide

By Laurel Miller | Last Updated January 29, 2016
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Colorado craft distillery guide

Celebrating Small-Batch Spirits and the Modern Pioneers of our Craft Spirits Movement


CRAFT: \’kraft\
noun: a job or activity that involves a special skill
verb: to make something in a skillful way using your hands


Colorado ranks second nationwide for the number of distilleries after Washington State, with over 70 licensed producers. Increasingly, there’s a move to source Colorado crops—primarily from the Western Slope, San Luis Valley and Alamosa and Larimer Counties. The purity of our water supply is another reason distillers choose Colorado as a home base. Spirits—especially whiskey—have a long, if nefarious, history in the Centennial State, but from boomtowns to Prohibition to the present day, Coloradans have always found a way to keep the stills flowing. In this guide, we celebrate the modern pioneers of our craft spirits movement.

WHAT IS “GRAIN-TO-GLASS?


It’s an unregulated term and the definition is in the mind of the distiller, but grain-to-glass has become synonymous with small-batch distilling— particularly whiskey. According to Andrew Faulkner, managing editor of Distiller Magazine, “It usually implies that the distillery mashed, fermented and distilled the grain or other base from which that spirit was made.”

Grain-to-glass marketing is partly pushback to the global trend of distilleries purchasing bulk neutral grain spirits (NGS), despite it being the norm for most white spirits. Using NGS doesn’t mean the resulting products are inferior, nor are grain-to-glass spirits always better. There are distilleries using NGS but because of their mastery at blending, maceration and aging, they produce excellent spirits. What matters is high-quality ingredients—just as with cooking. It’s often difficult for small farms to supply the demand of some distilleries and the cost of raw ingredients can be prohibitive. Some spirits require base ingredients that only grow in specific regions.

Visit tasting rooms and ask questions to educate yourself as a consumer, and purchase what you enjoy.

THE BITTER TRUTH


Colorado produces some of the best— and purest—bitters. Besides DRAM Apothecary (see listing), there’s Denver’s Strongwater Spirits & Botanicals for esoteric bitters and sipping vinegars made from ethically sourced ingredients. Boulder’s Cocktailpunk makes bitters by macerating ingredients like Palisade peaches and cherries.

Colorado distillers are also making bitter aperitifs and digestifs. Try Leopold Bros. Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur or Fernet Leopold Highland Amaro; Peak Spirits Distillery’s CapRock Bitter, a traditional Amaro from wine grapes, and Spring44’s Fortify Bitter Liqueur.

COLORADO CRAFT DISTILLERS


*the below is a handpicked list of distilleries chosen by Edible Aspen.
Get the more comprehensive listing.
Download the pdf version of this guide.

PROUD SPONSORS


Thank you to our sponsors for supporting Colorado distilleries. their support helps to ensure a thriving, and innovative, craft spirits community.
Peak Spirits Distillery
The American Distilling Institute
Woody Creek Distillers
Applejack Wine & Spirits

Breckenridge Distillery

Why We Love It: Continental Divide snowmelt, quality ingredients and skillful blending put this 9,600-foot distillery on the map; the award-winning high-rye bourbon is balanced and subtle.
|137 S. Main St., Breckenridge , CO, us
|1925 Airport Rd., Breckenridge, CO, us
|970.547.9759

Colorado Gold Distillery

Why We Love It: Acclaimed Straight Bourbon Whiskey, smooth-sipping Corn Whiskey, even a Colorado High Hemp Distilled Vodka—all filtered through billion-year-old basalt and produced in Colorado’s orchard fruit...
|1290 S. Grand Mesa Dr., Cedaredge, CO, us
|970.856.2600

Dancing Pines Distillery

Why We Love It: Heavenly liqueurs like Black Walnut and Cherry Tart; quality rums, especially the light-bodied, citrusy Spice version, which tastes like Christmas in the best possible way. Try it in eggnog.
|1527 Taurus Ct. #110, Loveland, CO, us
|970.635.3426

Deerhammer Distilling Company

Why We Love It: The excellent Downtime Single Malt Whiskey has notes of peat, leather and honey; Buena Vista Brandy is complex, with vanilla, spice and dark fruit. If you’d like to help with bottling, contact the...
|321 E. Main St., Buena Vista, CO, us
|719.395.9464

Devil’s Head Distillery

Why We Love It: This new distillery opened in September and boasts a legit craft spirit ethos. Owner Ryan White is the state’s only producer of aquavit, which he vapor-distills so it sings with hand-crushed...
|3296 S. Acoma St., Englewood, CO, us
|720.668.8770

DRAM Apothecary

Why We Love It: Exquisite locally wildcrafted bitters and cocktail syrups are vapor-distilled in small batches by founder Shae Whitney. Don’t miss the excellent, old timey cocktails and tastings located in a 19th-...
|1010 Main St., Silver Plume, CO, us
|720.608.0063

Golden Moon Distillery

Why We Love It: Crème de Violette is difficult to source anywhere, but a well-made domestic version is a real treasure. Made with blue violet flowers and buds, minimal sugar and bottled at a higher proof than most,...
|412 Violet St., Golden, CO, us
|303.993.7174

Leopold Bros.

Why We Love It: Todd Leopold’s masterful distilling (brother Scott oversees operations), an attention to detail and craftsmanship and an emphasis on sustainability. Colorado barley from the San Luis Valley is...
|5285 Joliet St., Denver, CO, us

Marble Distilling Company

Why We Love It: The above-and-beyond green construction and production methods and the stunning yule marble tasting room. Crystal River water and Colorado grains make for a superlatively pure vodka; the Moonlight...
|150 Main St., Carbondale, CO, us
|970.963.7008

Mile High Spirits

Why We Love It: Notes of honey, oak and toffee make the Fireside Bourbon an appealing sipper, and the Cuidado Tequila blended with filtered Rocky Mountain water is fruity, spicy and light on the palate. The...
|2201 Lawrence St., Denver, CO, us
|303.296.2226

Montanya Distillers

Why We Love It: The buzzy scene at the CB tasting room/distillery/bar is reason enough, but killer cocktails made with Platino White, Oro Dark and the new Exclusiva (extra-aged and finished in port barrels from...
|212 Elk Ave., Crested Butte, CO, us
|970.799.3206
|1309 Green St., Silverton, CO, us
|970.387.9904

Peach Street Distillers

Why We Love It: The state’s first legally made—and widely acclaimed—bourbon is augmented with Olathe corn and local grains; the result is smooth, with hints of caramel, vanilla, oak and spice. Get the limited,...
|144 S. Kluge Ave., Bldg. #2, Palisade, CO, us
|970.464.1128

Peak Spirits Distillery at Jack Rabbit Hill Farm

Why We Love It: Winemakers Lance and Anna Hanson are from Colorado’s old-school distilling movement. Their CapRock gin, made from whole apples, has garnered national acclaim, as well as their eaux de vies, made...
|26567 North Rd., Hotchkiss, CO, us
|970.361.4249

Spirit Hound Distillers

Why We Love It: Gin made with foraged local juniper berries that are vapor-distilled for maximum aromatics and flavor (the result is surprisingly delicate with floral, citrus notes); whiskey made with barley grown,...
|4196 Ute Hwy., Lyons, CO, us
|303.823.5696

Spring 44 Distilling

Why We Love It: It’s all about the water, sourced from an artesian spring in Buckhorn Canyon. Try the clean, subtly mineral signature vodka, a delicate vodka sweetened with local clover honey, or any of the three...
|505 W. 66th St., Loveland, CO, us
|970.414.0744

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

Why We Love It: Co-founder/distiller Jess Graber and business partner George Stranahan established Colorado’s first micro-distiller in 2004. In 2010, they sold the company but Stranahan’s still uses Colorado...
|200 S. Kalamath St., Denver, CO, us
|303.296.7440

Suerte Tequila

Why We Love It: These award-winning spirits are from a Boulder importer—the only Colorado brand that owns a tequila distillery (Tequilera Simbolo, in Jalisco). Tequila is an Appellation of Origin product and by law...
|Boulder, CO, us
|720.310.5825

10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company

Why We Love It: In addition to its ties to Colorado mountain town history (co-founder Christian Avignon’s grandfather was in the 10th Division), there’s that luscious bourbon with notes of vanilla and toasted...
|286 Bridge St., Vail, CO, us
|970.470.4215
|500 Trail Gulch Rd., Gypsum, CO, us
|970.524.2580

Wood’s High Mountain Distillery

Why We Love It: Tenderfoot Whiskey seduces with hints of chocolate and smoke, while Alpine Rye evokes citrus, coffee and caramel, but it’s the esoteric spirits that make this tasting room worth visiting. Beer...
|144 W. 1st St., Salida, CO, us
|719.207.4315

Woody Creek Distillers

Why We Love It: The award-winning potato vodka and Reserve Vodkas (made respectively with Rio Grande spuds and heirloom Strobrawa potatoes from co-founder Pat Scanlan’s Woody Creek organic farm) yield white spirits...
|60 Sunset Dr., Basalt, CO, us
|970.279.5110

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