Welcome to the first Bourbon Distilleries Road Show!
This week we’re visiting some of the wonderful bourbon distilleries in Colorado to see what they have to offer, even to the once-hardcore “Kentucky-only” bourbon aficionado.
When it comes to defining bourbon, the requirements are focused on the following: what goes into the mash bill (at least 51 percent corn); proof limits at distillation, barreling and bottling; and what the barrel is made of (charred new white oak). Contrary to popular belief, there’s no mention of being Kentucky in the legal definition of bourbon.
So with the recent bourbon boom, distilleries have emerged all around the country. And that’s a good thing. These days, you can ask Siri to find bourbon distilleries near you--and you’ll probably find many a lot closer than Kentucky. (Unless you’re in Kentucky, of course.)
Let’s take a tour through the Colorado distillery scene and see who’s offering what, so you can sample it for yourself:
1925 Airport Rd
Breckenridge, Colorado 80424
Mineral-infused snowmelt drives this award-winning bourbon that boasts about being distilled at the world’s highest distillery. Breckinridge tips its hat to a “hint of luck and a deep love for quality whiskey“ when it comes to its success.
Whether it’s the altitude or the attitude, this Colorado distillery has taken home multiple awards for their spirits since opening their rickhouse in 2008, including Bourbon of the Year at the 2011 International Wine & Spirits Competition and 2019 Colorado Distillery of the Year at the New York International Spirits Competition.
The high-rye mash of their blended bourbons is sure to find favor among even the most discerning bourbon palates.
Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey
Breckenridge Reserve Blend
Breckenridge Distillers High Proof
Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey Single Barrel
Peach Street Distillers
144 South Kluge Ave, Bldg #2
Palisade, Colorado 81526
Perched at the top of the world at 4,727 feet above sea level, the high Colorado desert offers up spirits concocted from some of nature’s most concentrated sugars. It’s here that Dave, Bill, Rory, and Davy roll up their sleeves and dig in to craft spirits that just can’t be found anywhere else. And it’s their commitment to doing things the hard way, falling down, and getting back up again that makes their bourbon different.
Marked by the scent of cinnamon and a big hint of vanilla, this short-finish bourbon is made from Western Colorado corn and pure Rocky Mountain water. The result is a small batch wonder.
Colorado Straight Bourbon (Aged)
Mile High Spirits
2201 Lawrence St
Denver, Colorado 80205
Rocky Mountain snowmelt blended with the sweetness of Colorado corn and #3 char American white oak barrels give this hearty small-batch its unique sweet, slightly smoky flavor.
Laws Whiskey House
1420 S Acoma St
Denver, Colorado 80223
“Craft over commodity. Quality over quantity. Whiskey above all.” That’s the mantra of Laws Whiskey House, home of Denver’s four-grain sour mash.
Each batch of A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon is milled, cooked, fermented, distilled, and aged on-site. This Colorado distillery is convinced that Colorado’s temperatures and air pressure make its distilleries just as good at producing quality bourbon as those in Kentucky, from grain to glass.
A.D. Laws Whiskey House was the first of all the bourbon distilleries in Colorado to produce Bottled-In-Bond bourbon, underlining the distillery’s commitment to quality and doing bourbon the right way.
A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon
A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon Cask Strength
A.D. Laws Farmers Select Single Barrel Four Grain Straight Bourbon
Laws Whiskey House Four Grain Straight Bonded Bourbon
A.D. Laws Two Grain Straight Bourbon Bottled In Bond
1647 S. Trenton St.
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80905
Award-winning Distillery 291 may not be as old as some of the big-name Kentucky distillers, but they seem to know exactly what they’re doing. They’ve managed to take home 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Double Gold, the Denver International Spirits Competition Gold and Silver, the Silver in the International Wine & Spirit Competition, and the People’s Choice Award at the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival in 2014, 2015, and 2016, all for their Barrel Proof Bourbon.
Sitting in the shadow of Pikes Peak, Michael Myers and his Colorado distillery team are making whiskey they only way they know how: “hardmade the Colorado way.” For them, that means from scratch, every step of the way. The result is an innovative, high-quality Colorado bourbon that’s earned every award it’s achieved so far.
Sip this Colorado bourbon and enjoy the lingering sweet caramel, clove, and nutmeg aromas while notes of cinnamon, honey, and dark chocolate fill the palate.
Single Barrel Colorado Bourbon Whiskey
Barrel Proof Colorado Bourbon Whiskey
Bear Creek Distillery
1879 S. Acoma St.
Denver, Colorado 80223
This craft Colorado distillery is focused on community, sourcing local ingredients and materials wherever possible and crafting quality bourbon right in the heart of Denver.
It’s a strategy that’s paying off: Bear Creek’s Straight Bourbon won the gold at the 2019 American Distilling Institute Spirits Competition, the silver at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and the bronze at the 2018 American Distilling Institute Spirits Competition.
This dark copper bourbon boasts hints of leather and banana. After the banana dissipates, the leather lingers with a smooth finish, creating a unique flavor profile for this pour.
Bear Creek Straight Bourbon
Bear Creek Wheated Bourbon
10th Mountain Whiskey
227 Bridge St.
Vail, Colorado 81657
Vail’s own 10th Mountain Whiskey is the next stop on our Road Show of the Colorado distilleries.
10th Mountain produces award-winning bourbon, named after the mountain lifestyle of the original 10th Mountain soldiers. Crafted out of a love of the mountains, memories and spirits, 10th Mountain encourages those who love that lifestyle to live it fully.
Their bourbon is a worthy legacy of that name. It won the gold at the Global Spirits Competition, the North American Whiskey and Bourbon Competition, and the Denver International Spirits Festival.
If you like a smooth, medium-bodied bourbon with a sweet finish, this bourbon fits the bill. Make the trip to Vail and try it for yourself.
10th Mountain Whiskey Company Bourbon
Axe and the Oak Distillery
1604 S Cascade Ave.
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80905
Colorado grains, masterfully distilled right in Colorado Springs, is what makes Axe and the Oak Distillery the bourbon people want to share a drink and a smile with.
Established with a love for whiskey, live music, and a longing to bring community together, this Colorado distillery also hosts a Whiskey House where people can enjoy the bourbon’s vanilla notes along with live notes from local and national musicians, six nights a week.
Colorado Mountain Bourbon Whiskey
Old Elk Distillery
1713 E Lincoln Ave.
Fort Collins, Colorado 80524
Old Elk Distillery’s signature “slow cut proofing” process means their bourbon takes weeks--not days--to achieve its final proof. It’s a bold move in a fast-growing industry. But Old Elk keeps seeing that commitment to quality pay off, earning award after award for their smooth-finish bourbon.
Gold at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Silver at the 2018 WSWA Tasting Competition. Gold at the 2017 Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival. Distillery of the Year in 2016 and 2017 at the New York International Spirits Competition. This distillery has a lot to be proud of.
Old Elk’s bourbon boasts a rich, traditional character--perfect for those looking for a bit of Kentucky from the Colorado distilleries.
Old Elk Blended Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Old Elk Wheated Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Old Elk Sour Mash Straight Bourbon Whiskey
As you can see, if you’re looking for Colorado distilleries near you, you have a good chance oof finding some spectacular bourbon. These nine Colorado distilleries--and many, many others--are here to prove that while bourbon may have originally been born and bred in Kentucky, it’s now living wild and free across the country.
Are these bourbon distilleries in Colorado now on your must-visit list? Be sure to catch the next of our Road Show series so you can uncover more bourbon distilleries near you.
Note: Image by Matt Inden/Miles and courtesy of the Colorado Tourism Office.