Edible Aspen's Colorado Craft Distillery Guide
Celebrating Small-Batch Spirits and the Modern Pioneers of our Craft Spirits Movement
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
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