The Green Russell in Denver, CO (http://www.greenrussell.com) hosted an event with multiple Colorado distilleries from all over the state promoting their best products. As water is the key to many cocktails, so too is the making of Colorado’s fine spirits from crystal clear, Rocky mountain spring waters and the unique twists these Colorado distillers have had on many classic spirits.
Golden Moon Distillery (www.goldenmoondistillery.com)
The Golden Moon Distillery out of Golden was a fantastic small distillery with multiple quality products. The Golden Moon Gin has strong botanicals with a light and sweet finish. The Dry Curacao and Crème de Violette are much lighter, but still flavorful, liqueurs than the sweet liqueurs typical in the market. Lastly, we tried their REDUX Absinthe, made with two types of wormwood, to take you back in time during the Belle Epoque era.
Breckenridge Distillery (https://www.breckenridgedistillery.com/hooch/)
Breckenridge Bourbon is just a fantastic bourbon, but they also brought their Vodka and Bitters. Breckenridge’s Vodka was light and refreshing and their Bitters are an old world style bitters that provides a strong yet aromatic experience. While Breckenridge only sells these three products commercially, they sell many more that are only available at their distillery, so you have to go visit to try them.
State 38 (http://state-38.com)
State 38, run by Sean Smiley, was a very unique distillery that uses only 100% blue agave. While not technically tequila (since it’s not made in Mexico), these are still smooth and delicious. The pot-still Blanco retains many of the agave oils for a spicy and unique twist to tequila. The Reposado was smooth and the Anejo is due out in August. In addition to these, their Gin and Vodka are also crafted out of the agave. The vodka retains sweeter notes making sipping a pleasure. The Gin is barrel aged with additional botanicals in new oak barrels, providing strong floral notes mixing well with the sweet agave spirit. This is a very distinctive distillery with some really cool products that Sean is very passionate about.
Wood’s High Mountain Distillery (www.woodsdistillery.com)
Lee Wood has distilled three quality spirits in Salida: the Tenderfoot Whiskey, Treeline Gin, and a Treeline “Barrel Rested” Gin. The Treeline Gin is a classic dry gin, but the “Barrel Rested” gin really won me over. Called a “gin for whiskey lovers,” as it is aged in new oak barrels, this gin brings more complex flavors that made it stand apart from the rest. The Tenderfoot Whiskey is their newest addition with a slight spice from the rye they use, but smooth throughout.
Tesouro Distillery (http://www.tesourodistillery.com)
Tesouro Distillery, out of Longmont, crafts their rum from Hawaiian cane sugar before aging it for 2 years in Cabernet barrels, giving it an additional spicy taste to their rum flavor. This unique take on rum goes against many traditional forms, like many methods practiced in Colorado, but creates a smooth drink nonetheless.
KJ Wood Distillery (http://kjwooddistillers.com)
KJ Wood Distillery brought their NY World Wine and Spirits gold medal winning Jinn Gin to the event. Made with hand selected Bavarian botanicals and florals, the gin is smooth and awakens in your mouth like the exotic stories its name provokes.
291 Distillery (http://291coloradowhiskey.com)
Out of Colorado Springs, 291 Distillery brought a variety of whiskeys and a very unique clove and citrus liqueur called The Decc. They provide both aged and un-aged versions of their whiskey: the rye malt mash Colorado Whiskey, and the un-aged Fresh Colorado Whiskey, the un-aged White Dog Colorado Rye Whiskey, and their bourbon mash American Whiskey. What sets these apart from other whiskeys is that they are finished with aspen staves, creating a uniquely Colorado flavored whiskey.
Spring 44 Distillery (http://spring44.com/home)
Spring 44 really focuses on their water, using artesian waters from remote mountain springs. This “liquid energy” is the basis for all their quality spirits, of which they showed six, including their Honey Vodka and their Old Tom Gin. After tasting all these spirits, I sat down and ordered a Martinez with the Spring 44 Old Tom. Alex, a bartender at the Green Russell, mixed the cocktail, testing it to ensure perfection, and I was not disappointed. Like so many of these distilleries, water is crucial in crafting a cocktail, and only after the ideal dilution, was I served my Martinez and relaxed, enjoying the cool, refreshing tastes that Rocky Mountain waters brings to the glass.