Infinite diversity in infinite combinations

OK, so the title of this post is an “old Vulcan proverb” – and not truly accurate. There are only about 45 distilleries in the state. But as I’ve found out throughout my recent road trip, Colorado’s craft distilling community brings a lot of diversity to the table. We’re excited to be adding distilleries daily to the Colorado Distillers Festival lineup (it’s Sunday, September 8 at the Rackhouse Pub from 1-5pm – get tix here)

I’m back from leg #1 of my #ColoradoDistilleryRoadTrip.

My trusty traveling companion Matt and I set out last Tuesday to visit distilleries in the farthest reaches of the great state of my birth, Colorado. We visited towns like Buena Vista and Ridgway. Palisade and Hotchkiss. Crested Butte and Leadville.

Downtown Crested Butte, Colorado

Downtown Crested Butte, Colorado

Between the last two Tuesdays, we logged a little more than 1300 miles. Visited 12 craft distilleries. Stepped foot in two National Parks. Two craft breweries. Two states. Multiple incredibly beautiful mountain passes.

This was truly a round-trip road trip. None of that “up I-70 and back again a day later” bullshit. We only drove on the same stretch of road twice.

The portuguese pot still at Montanya Distillers in Crested Butte

The portuguese pot still at Montanya Distillers in Crested Butte

 

Part of my goal is to try to notice trends within this small community of passionate distillers, and after being places like Deerhammer Distilling Company, Mancos Valley Distillery, Peach Street Distillery and Colorado’s newest distillery, Two Guns Distilling, I have yet to get enough sample data to make a valid hypothesis to develop a “grand unifying theory of booze”, but I’m getting there.

So far, I’ve seen 12 distilleries that are truly unique from one another. Different brewing, distilling and tasting room setups. Different amounts of startup capital (very noticeable). Different distillers, all of whom are carving out their own niches in this emerging American industry. What I’ve seen that is similar amongst them all is that they all take great pride in their spirits.

Ian James of Mancos Valley Distillery sits behind his bar and serves up live music and rum-based boat drinks

Ian James of Mancos Valley Distillery sits behind his bar and serves up live music and rum-based boat drinks

 

Ian at Mancos Valley Distillery (30 minutes west of Durango) makes rum and offers a variety of boat drinks. The folks at Montanya in Crested Butte produce rum that’s barrel-aged in once-used Stranahan’s whiskey barrels and mix cocktails that would be at home in even the trendiest booze bars of New York. Peach Street Distillers in Palisade are making excellent spirits like pear gin and are going global, shipping their product to far-away countries like Sweden and Romulus. Ok, so Romulus is from Star Trek. Just had to try to tie back to the title of this week’s entry. Contrast those places with PEAK Spirits outside Hotchkiss, manned by Lance Hanson – a successful software exec-turned-farmer & distiller who lives on an 82 acre homestead and preaches the superiority of biodynamic farming.

It’s incredible how wonderful all the stories & people are that we heard on the road. It’s my goal to bring you these unique stories from unique distillers in the weeks leading up to the Colorado Distillers Festival. We’ve been blogging from the road and will be bringing you tales of mystery and intrigue from the entire state of Colorado, like the Rico, Colorado “Whiskey Rebellion”, what you do when life gives you clear small-batch rum and a watermelon, and more.

About Josh Mishell


Josh Mishell is one of the organizers of the Colorado Distillers Festival, on September 8, 2013 at the Rackhouse Pub. He's the Chief Idea Guy of Fermentable Sugar LLC, a one-man full-service marketing agency in Denver. Previously, Josh was the Creative Director at Flying Dog Brewery. He's a real-deal telemark skier, fly fisherman, and passionate about craft-distilled booze, craft beer, and how these uniquely American industries are marketed.