The local distillery scene in Colorado is more than just a business; it’s a passionate community where the art of distilling is as much about tradition as it is about innovation. These distilleries are not just producing exceptional spirits; they’re telling a story — a story steeped in Colorado’s rich history and vibrant culture.
With a landscape as diverse as its spirits, Colorado’s distilleries offer a unique glimpse into the soul of the state. From smooth, oak-aged bourbons to crisp, botanical gins, each distillery has its own charm and character. Join us on this spirited journey as we explore the heart of what makes Colorado a standout in the world of spirits, highlighting some of the best distilleries in the state.
The Rise of Craft Distilleries in Colorado
The story of Colorado’s distilleries is one of resilience, creativity, and a deep-rooted connection to the land. It’s a tale that begins with the early settlers and miners who brought with them a tradition of distilling, which has evolved into today’s thriving craft distillery movement.
The roots of distilling in Colorado date back to the late 1800s, when miners and early settlers sought to quench their thirst and warm their spirits against the rugged backdrop of the Rockies. These makeshift stills, often hidden in the mountains, laid the groundwork for a rich distilling tradition.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and Colorado is witnessing a renaissance in craft distilling. This resurgence is driven by a blend of tradition and innovation. Distillers are not just reviving old recipes; they’re experimenting with local ingredients, unique aging processes, and environmentally sustainable practices. This revival has positioned Colorado at the forefront of the craft distillery movement.
Impact of Local Ingredients
What truly sets Colorado distilleries apart is their use of locally sourced ingredients. From native grains to Rocky Mountain spring water, the quality and purity of these ingredients are reflected in the distinct flavors of the spirits. This commitment to local sourcing not only supports Colorado’s agricultural community but also ensures a product that is uniquely Coloradan in character.
Top 3 Distilleries in Colorado
1. Breckenridge Distillery
Breckenridge Distillery, proudly holding the title of the world’s highest distillery, is located at 1925 Airport Road and also has a presence at 137 S Main St., Breckenridge, Colorado. Its high-altitude location offers visitors spectacular views of the stunning Colorado landscapes, making it a scenic and memorable stop for any spirit enthusiast.
History and Background
Founded in 2008, Breckenridge Distillery quickly became renowned, especially for its blended bourbon whiskey. This high-rye mash American-style whiskey has garnered multiple accolades, marking its presence in the spirits world. The distillery’s journey from its inception to becoming one of the top three bourbons in the U.S. is a testament to its commitment to quality and innovation.
Breckenridge Distillery is most widely known for its exquisite range of whiskeys and bourbons. However, their expertise isn’t limited to these spirits alone. They also produce high-quality rum, vodka, and gin, catering to a diverse range of palates and preferences. Their portfolio is a celebration of their mastery in distillation and blending.
What Makes Them Different
The distillery’s high-altitude location is not just a geographic highlight; it plays a crucial role in the uniqueness of their spirits. The altitude impacts the fermentation and aging process, giving their spirits a distinctive character that’s hard to replicate elsewhere. This unique environmental influence, combined with their commitment to quality and innovation, sets Breckenridge Distillery apart.
In addition to their renowned whiskeys and bourbons, Breckenridge Distillery offers a range of other spirits including rum, vodka, and gin. They also provide a comprehensive experience with tours, a tasting room, and an on-site American restaurant, where visitors can pair delicious food with their exquisite drinks.
2. Stoneyard Distillery
Stoneyard Distillery is located at 4600 US-6, Gypsum, CO 81637, United States. Situated just above the confluence of the Eagle and Colorado Rivers, this distillery offers a unique setting for visitors. Its location, influenced by the surrounding old stone yard and a 4000-year-old lava flow from the Dotsero Volcano, adds a distinctive character to the visitor experience.
History and Background
Stoneyard Distillery was established in 2014, starting its production with Beet Sugar Spirits. The owners hand-built the distillery from scratch, choosing this particular location for its excellent water source, which comes directly from the Rocky Mountain river through a private water system. This site’s unique characteristics, including the lava rock used in the vapor refining distillation packing, contribute significantly to the quality and uniqueness of their spirits.
What sets Stoneyard Distillery apart is its commitment to using pure Colorado beet sugar and Rocky Mountain water in its spirits. This not only results in authentic flavors but also embeds a piece of Colorado’s natural bounty into every bottle. The distillery’s setting and its unconventional approach to spirit production, emphasizing local ingredients and innovative techniques, make it a standout in the Colorado distillery scene.
Their range includes Coffee Hazelnut Cream Liqueur, Peanut Butter & Jelly, 176 Proof, Barrel Reserve, Cinnamon Fire, Horchata Spirit, Jim’s Gin, Colorado Silver, and Cacao de los Muertos. These unique offerings reflect Stoneyard Distillery’s inventive approach and dedication to crafting extraordinary spirits.
3. Woody Creek Distillers
Woody Creek Distillers is located at 60 Sunset Dr, Basalt, CO 81621, United States. This distillery is known for its picturesque setting, offering a serene and inviting atmosphere to visitors who are looking to enjoy high-quality spirits in a tranquil environment.
History and Background
Founded with a mission to produce the finest craft spirits with a unique taste and character, Woody Creek Distillers is a testament to the dedication and passion for genuine, quality spirits. They emphasize the use of their own grown ingredients, like the Rio Grande potatoes for their premium vodka, and only source grains from trusted Colorado farms. Their custom CARL stills, an engineering marvel, play a significant role in the distillation process, contributing to the unique character of their spirits.
Woody Creek Distillers offers a diverse range of spirits including Straight Bourbon, Colorado Gin, Mary’s Select Gin, Rye Whiskey, and their signature Vodka. Each of these products is crafted with meticulous attention to detail, from the choice of locally sourced ingredients to the careful distillation process, ensuring a unique and high-quality experience for every customer.
Woody Creek Distillers’ range includes a variety of products that cater to different tastes. These include their much-anticipated Colorado Bourbon, Roaring Fork Gin, Mary’s Select Gin inspired by their CEO, 100% Colorado Rye, and their premium potato vodka. Each spirit has its own unique character and flavor, offering a glimpse into the diversity and quality of Colorado’s distilling craft
Visiting Colorado’s Distilleries: Tips and Recommendations
Exploring Colorado’s distilleries offers a unique blend of scenic beauty, rich history, and exceptional spirits. Here are some tips and recommendations to enhance your distillery tour experience:
1. Plan Your Visit:
Many distilleries offer guided tours and tastings, but it’s best to check their websites or call ahead for tour times and availability.
Consider visiting during off-peak times or weekdays for a more intimate experience.
If you’re planning to visit multiple distilleries, consider hiring a designated driver or using local transportation options.
Some areas may have distillery trails or tours that provide transportation between locations.
3. Tasting Etiquette:
When tasting, take the time to savor each spirit’s aroma and flavor. Distilleries often provide tasting notes or guidance to enhance your experience.
Remember to drink responsibly and pace yourself, especially if visiting multiple locations.
4. Explore Local Pairings:
Many distilleries have on-site restaurants or partner with local eateries. Explore food pairings that complement the spirits.
Don’t miss out on seasonal or limited-edition releases that might be available only at the distillery.
5. Learn and Engage:
Engage with the distillers or staff. They’re often passionate about their craft and can provide insights into the distillation process and the story behind each spirit.
Look out for special events or workshops that offer a deeper dive into the art of distilling.
Share your experience on social media or with friends. Word of mouth is invaluable for these local gems.
As we conclude our journey through the vibrant landscape of Colorado’s distilleries, it’s evident that the state’s spirit scene is as diverse and dynamic as its majestic mountains and serene valleys. The distilleries we’ve explored offer not just a sip of fine spirits, but a taste of Colorado’s rich history, innovative spirit, and passionate community.
Celebrating Colorado’s Craftsmanship
ach distillery, with its unique offerings and stories, contributes to the tapestry of Colorado’s cultural and culinary richness. From high-altitude whiskeys to gin infused with local botanicals, the spirits embody the essence of their surroundings, offering a distinct experience that resonates with both locals and visitors alike.
A Journey of Discovery
Exploring the best distilleries in Colorado isn’t just about tasting spirits; it’s about discovering the heart and soul of the state. It’s about connecting with the people behind the bottles, understanding their craft, and appreciating the dedication and creativity that goes into every drop.
An Invitation to Explore
Whether you’re a connoisseur or a curious traveler, Colorado’s distilleries invite you to explore a world of flavors and experiences. Each visit promises new insights, delightful tastes, and the warmth of a community that takes great pride in sharing its craft.
Supporting Local and Sustainable Practices
By visiting these distilleries, you not only indulge in high-quality spirits but also support local businesses and sustainable practices that are crucial for the state’s economy and environment.