Colorado’s distillery land grab

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The Rackhouse at Peach Street Distillers in Palisade. Photo: Josh Mishell

Let’s just get a couple things out of the way now before we get to this week’s post. First, we have 22 distilleries signed up to pour booze at the Colorado Distillers Festival so far. Sample spirits from industry old-timers like Peach Street Distillers (who opened in 2004) and newcomers like Two Guns Distillery (who opened this past Memorial Day). Next, ticket prices increase on August 1, so if all this talk about Colorado distilleries wets your whistle, take advantage of lower prices.

In many ways, the craft distilling industry of today is similar to craft beer in the late 80s and early 90s. Distilleries are opening up, making booze, giving tours, getting folks drunk in their tasting rooms and at festivals, and evangelizing locally-produced hooch. After visiting Spirit Hound Distillers in Lyons yesterday, I’ve been to 16 distilleries in the last month.

I’m starting to see some trends.

One trend is that the “Distillery Land Grab” is in full force. Breweries have pretty much saturated  the state, and there are multiple breweries poised to open in towns like Erie and Lafayette. At least one distillery has popped up in each of Colorado’s largest cities (Feisty Spirits just became the 1st distillery in Fort Collins earlier this month). Others are popping up in many destination towns like Crested Butte, Salida, Leadville, Breckenridge, Basalt (near Aspen) and more. Right now the odds are pretty favorable that your favorite Colorado city has a distillery (or one in planning). While the bigger cities can sustain more than one distillery, right now smaller towns might only be able to accommodate one until craft spirits gain in popularity.

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Peach Street Distillers’ Tasting Room bar in Palisade. Photo: Josh Mishell

If you’re a traveler, you’ll able to explore the local drinking customs in your favorite towns and drink spirits distilled within a couple miles of the bar seat you’re sitting in – or in the tasting room itself. Isn’t this starting to sound a little bit like craft beer, folks?

Here are a few Colorado cities that are still lacking distilleries:

  • Steamboat
  • Winter Park
  • Vail (although it would have to be down-valley, like in Avon or Eagle-Vail)
  • Idaho Springs
  • Telluride
  • Glenwood Springs
  • Estes Park

What towns am I missing? Where would you like to see a distillery pop up? Comment below and let me know.

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.