One of the fastest-growing states for distilling is Colorado. There are 98 registered distilleries producing everything from vodka to bourbon and whatever in between. We continue with Part 4 of The Bourbon Flight’s Bourbon Distilleries Across America series, which explores distilleries throughout the United States. This series will introduce bourbon lovers to both known and unknown distilleries.
This is simply an informative piece, not a review since we have yet to sample the bourbons. We want to inform readers that distilling bourbon is a nationwide love. Tradition and passion run through each bottle of bourbon, from Elmer T. Lee to the unknown distiller.
We cannot highlight every distillery in a state, but we will certainly try to bring the most helpful information to you. We plan on highlighting two states in each Original Pour.
Keep checking back to see when your state is highlighted. We are going in alphabetical order.
10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Co.—Gypsum, Colorado
Not only is the distiller paying tribute to the 10th mountain soldier at Camp Hale, but also to those who enjoy the mountain lifestyle. Located in the heart of Vail Village, this distillery offers a tasting room with lodge vibes and beautiful scenery.
Overlooking Gore Creek and surrounded by shopping and restaurants, 10th Mountain Distillery offers a place to relax after a long day of skiing or sightseeing. They pride themselves on giving back. Since being founded in 2014, the goal has always been to support causes near and dear to the company’s heart.
In 2021, 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Co. won Craft Distillery of the Year by RackHouse Whiskey Club. The award was based on votes by members of the club with criteria that included each distillery’s story, how the distillery impacts the community, branding and packaging.
Axe and the Oak Distillery—Colorado Springs, Colorado
“Can we make a whiskey worth sharing?” This question was asked by three friends. The friends answered the question in 2013 when they founded the distillery. After only three months in the barrel, its bourbon earned a silver medal at the Denver International Spirits Competition.
Fast-forward to 2016, when the distillery opened Axe and the Oak Whiskey House. An upgrade to most distilleries’ tasting rooms, this bar provides live music, food and Axe’s flagship spirits.
The distillery offers tours, tastings and you can even join the team every other Thursday to bottle the spirits. For your help, you receive samples, lunch and a bottle of whiskey for your efforts. Located one mile south of downtown Colorado Springs, this distillery is a must-visit.
Breckenridge Distillery—Breckenridge, Colorado
Founded in 2008 by Bryan Nolt, Breckenridge Distillery claims to be the world’s highest distillery and has quickly risen through the ranks of the bourbon industry. Winning numerous awards in 2018, the distillery won Brand Innovator of the Year by the Icons of Whisky.
Presently, the distillery produces 75,000 cases of its brand. In the beginning, they only produced one barrel a day, but now the distillery can fill 23 barrels, which is quite a leap. Like Maker’s Mark, they use a 40-foot-tall column still with a doubler that features a 10,000 mash and fermentation tank.
The distillery has a tasting room, tours and a restaurant that serves “modern American cuisine with attitude.” Not only does the food not disappoint, but the bourbon is fantastic. They recently partnered with the Denver Broncos of the NFL to release a specially blended bourbon. Former Bronco players duke it out to see which blended bourbon the fans like.
Deerhammer Distillery—Buena Vista, Colorado
An independent distillery, Deerhammer was founded in 2010 by Amy and Lenny Eckstein. Lenny Eckstein built the distillery by repairing used dairy equipment and repurposed machinery. The distillery’s only custom piece is a Scottish-style direct-fire 140-gallon copper pot still made by an artisan from Arkansas who answers to “The Colonel.”
Deerhammer is on Main Street in downtown Buena Vista, a picturesque street with local shops and restaurants lining both sides. Reasonably priced tours and tastings allow visitors to enjoy spirits that range from malt to rye. The new concept kitchen completes the experience as visitors are treated to a whiskey-inspired menu.
The distillery features a bar with a window view of the copper pot still and offers both pub and restaurant-style seating. A rustic warm wood décor finishes off this cozy distillery that produces a big whiskey flavor.
Distillery 291—Colorado Springs, Colorado
Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Distillery 291 is shadowed by Pikes Peak. Owner and distiller Michael Myers built the original still from copper photogravure plates that he had once used to create enduring photographic scenes.
Using grains from Colorado and water collected from Pikes Peak reservoirs makes Distillery 291 whiskeys award-winning. The tasting room brings the distilling process to you as the seating area is situated next to vats of mash and barrels are aging beside you while you sip on the seasonal offerings.
Myers’ passion for the Old West drives him to create the best possible experience for his customers and bourbon and whiskies are the staples of this distillery.
Elevation 5003 Distillery—Fort Collins, Colorado
As founder Loren Matthews explains, “It all started with a group of great friends sitting around a fire pit, enjoying cocktails and discussing life’s journey.” Fast-forward to 2016, Elevation 5003 was born.
The female-owned distillery sits exactly at 5003 feet above sea level. The process occurs in a modern rustic storefront in Fort Collins that features a distillery and tasting room. Large glass windows allow the enthusiast to observe how the distillery process works.
The straight bourbon whiskey recently won a silver medal in the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Feisty Spirits Distillery—Fort Collins, Colorado
David Monahan and Jamie Gulden wanted a job that didn’t feel like a job. In 2012, they founded Feisty Spirits, becoming the first distillery in Fort Collins. The distillery uses only all-natural, organic ingredients and has become known for having great spirits and even better people.
The distillery doesn’t focus on a single type of whiskey. Bourbon, rye and malt make up most spirits but produce nonconformist whiskies. Feisty Spirits “respects the grain” and utilizes the usual grains, but they also use grains many people are unfamiliar with, like triticale, millet, spelt and kamut.
A modest-sized tasting room with a focus on the spirits is what you find when you visit the distillery. Better Days, O’Fiesty, McBourbon, and Red, White & Blue bourbons are just some of the nonconforming bourbons you will encounter at the bar. Choose carefully and enjoy.
Golden Moon Distillery—Golden, Colorado
Golden Moon Distillery is the first legal distillery to operate in Golden since Prohibition. It was founded by Stephen Gould and Karen Knight in early 2008 specifically to produce premium hand-crafted whiskeys, brandies, herbal liquors and liqueurs.
The distillery offers tours, but the real diamond is the Golden Moon Speakeasy, cocktail lounge that offers pre-Prohibition cocktails and straight spirits. The venue also offers live music weekly. Order the Gun Fight American Bourbon-Double Cask neat for an authentic Old West experience.
Golden Moon Distillery has turned its passion for distilling and history into a family of artisanal whiskeys and spirits and the distillery has won many “Best Distillery of the Year” awards.
Honey House Distillery—Durango, Colorado
Honey House was founded in 2012 when good friends Kevin Culhane and Adam Bergal came up with the idea to start a distillery in Durango, Colorado. After many tours, the pair decided to use Kevin’s family experience in beekeeping and incorporate it into the distillery. Every spirit has a little (or a lot) Rocky Mountain wildflower honey in the recipe.
With a ranch-like atmosphere, the Honey House produces a variety of hand-crafted, small-batch distilled spirits, including the very first Colorado Honey Whiskey. The multiple award-winning Honey Bourbon Whiskey is the showstopper, blending wildflower honey and bourbon.
Come for the spirits and stay for the country store. Honey House Distillery reminds me of a Cracker Barrel if it fell inside a honeycomb and produced bourbon. While shopping, the massive pane-glass windows grant you a front-row seat to see the distilling process up close.
Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse—Denver, Colorado
This distillery is named after a lost mining town in southern Colorado and Denver’s 19th-century “Ironton Addition.” The distillery’s tasting/event room is located in the RiNo Arts District and features a 10,000-square-foot dog-friendly outdoor space where you can grab a craft cocktail or food.
Ironton distillery has three big stills named Big Karl, Margo and Tamila, all made in Denver. The distillery uses charred No. 2 barrels and after the whiskey has aged, the barrel is reused to finish their gin, rum and aquavit.
The spent grain after the distilling process is made into dog treats, dough and spent grain knots that you can purchase at the distillery. The distillery also has an art gallery where artists can create masterpieces while drinking bourbon made of heirloom blue corn grown on Colorado’s Eastern Plains.
Laws Whiskey House—Denver, Colorado
One of the more popular distilleries in Colorado, Laws Whiskey House has no master distiller but a team known as “The Village.” Terroir is critical to the distillery because they believe that terroir-driven whiskey requires thin air and the vast variations of hot and cold temperatures from the Rockies.
Laws has not taken any shortcuts when producing the finest whiskey. The distillery strives for perfection and waited three years before selling any product. Their motto is: “Craft over commodity. Quality over quantity. Whiskey, above all.”
The distillery recently expanded its capacity. Laws built a new larger cooker, pot still and more fermentation vats. That expansion led to the release of Laws’ house experiment bourbon called Intention. The bourbon is the distillery’s four-grain product combined with other barrels ranging from 3 to 10 years old.
Founded by three Colorado natives who thrive on travel and adventure, Mythology was inspired by a heli-skiing trip in Alaska.
The distillery opened its doors in 2018 in Denver’s popular LoHi neighborhood and recently broke ground on its Steamboat Springs campus, where it is located in the former Butcherknife Brewery building.
A 5,000-square-foot tasting room—double the size of the current tasting room—will be the heart of the new location. Large windows will allow spirit lovers to see the process of distilling. Also, there will be a 4,200-square-foot rickhouse that ages the whiskey by sonic aging or sound waves. The new building is scheduled to open sometime in the summer of 2023.
Mythology is environmentally sustainable and only uses Colorado’s natural resources in its distillery process. It has been named Colorado’s Top Distillery in consecutive years and its spirits have won more than 50 domestic and international awards.
Old Elk Distillery—Fort Collins, Colorado
Having been distilling in a production facility since 2016, Old Elk has recently opened an elegant tasting room in Old Town Fort Collins named The Reserve. The Reserve offers a full menu and bar serving elk burgers and much more. The Old Elk’s brand name honors Fort Collins’ 73-year history as a dry town before and after Prohibition.
The distillery’s Slow Cut bourbon is its signature style. By tradition, the proofing process takes 24-48 hours. Old Elk decided to do it significantly longer, with the process involving weeks instead of days. The process also uses smaller increments to keep the liquid cool when going from barrel to bottling-proof. They believe the process produces smoother-tasting bourbon.
The distillery’s flagship bourbon, Blended Straight Bourbon, features highly malted barley, using four times more malted barley than traditional recipes. The high-malted barley smooths out the burn for a more flavorful sip. Old Elk has a variety of bourbon and whiskey available at the tasting room or website.
Talnue Distillery—Arvada, Colorado
The distillery’s name, Talnue, is born from the Irish-Gaelic words “talamh,” meaning “land,” and “nua,” meaning “new.” Founders Meagan and Patrick Miller decided on their honeymoon in Ireland that they loved single pot-distilled whiskey. After consideration, the two bought an ex-rum distillery to start a new adventure.
Talnue Distillery is the only dedicated single-pot whiskey spirits producer in the country. The single-pot style dates back hundreds of years and evolved from a contentious relationship between Great Britain and Ireland. The whiskey is made from a mixed mash of malted and unmalted barley in a single pot still.
The distillery opened a quaint tasting room on St. Patty’s Day in 2019. The space serves house cocktails and other unique libations. Its location is easy to find and an outdoor patio allows visitors to soak up the mountain air.
The Block Distillery Co.—Denver, Colorado
The Block Distilling Co. release its first whiskey in 2019, and they haven’t looked back. The distillery uses the best ingredients possible and grow most of them on dedicated acreage on a family farm in Missouri.
Three stills create Block Distillery’s spirits and with a laid-back tasting room located in Denver’s RiNo Art District, this area offers something for everyone. Food, spirits and people are a perfect recipe for a thriving distillery.
The distillery proclaims, “We do things the hard way. The long way.” This is especially true when talking about its Night Sweats Straight Bourbon. A double-distilled bourbon aged two years is a great way to end a night in Denver. Plus, each bottle sold supports The Marigold Project, which supports nonprofit organizations working on economic, racial and social justice issues.
The Heart Distillery—Windsor, Colorado
A family-owned business is built from heart, inspiration and a whole lot of sweat. The Heart Distillery is owned by Pat and Amanda Weakland. After being successful in the brewery business, the couple decided to start a distillery in 2018.
Its award-winning straight bourbon whiskey is a small-batch creation using Cache La Poudre River water. You can sip on this and other spirits in the distillery’s tasting room and catch an event like “Sip & Shop” or a comedy night.
Whistling Hare Distillery—Westminster, Colorado
The Whistling Hare Distillery is owned and operated by the Rothe family. Head Distiller Sandy Rothe left a 40-year career to start the distillery after trips to Scotland to study under an award-winning distiller and visiting other Colorado distilleries.
The distillery is located only 20 minutes away from Denver and don’t let the shopping mall feel deter you from walking in. The tasting room has large arch windows that allow visitors to see the behind-the-scenes process of making whiskey.
The distillery’s Blue Corn Bourbon is the star. The corn grown by the Ute Mountain Tribe in Cortez, Colorado, and purple barley make this bourbon a must-try.
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