St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, and if you participate in any festivities on the day, chances are you’ll find yourself staring into a shot, snifter or cocktail with Jameson. There’s nothing wrong with it — it’s remarkably smooth, after all, and sipping it is like visiting an old friend — but you can do better locally.
Of all the spirits available from Boulder County distillers, whiskey has found the strongest footing. Some producers are able to make whiskey from entirely local sources. Some have outfitted their warehouses with state-of-the-art aging technology that works the spirit through the wood to maximize flavor.
Here are a few whiskeys from Boulder County that show the breadth of our local whiskey offerings — we suggest picking up a few bottles and running through a tasting flight, maybe while you’re cooped up on this upcoming snowy weekend. And if you want to throw Jameson into the flight as a control, we won’t hold that against you.
Straight Malt Whiskey, Spirit Hound Distillers
The Lyons’ distillers’ flagship product has brought home numerous awards, and for good reason: bottles are culled from single barrels and the whiskey itself is made entirely from barley that’s grown and malted in Alamosa, Colorado. Aged for two years in new, charred American oak barrels, distillers taste often to decide when it’s time to bottle. The whiskey is cut with fresh Rocky Mountain water to cut the proof down to 90, and the result is a nuanced spirit with hints of smoke and peat, and rich butterscotch and caramel flavors on the tongue.
Boulder Bourbon – Sherry Cask, Boulder Spirits
The folks at Boulder Bourbon create this flavor-forward spirit by aging its corn-heavy Bourbon (making for a sweet sip) for two years before moving it to casks that aged sherry. That finish gives this spirit a wine-like
quality, and combined with the notes of wood and the sweetness of the mash bill, each sip is like tasting fruitcake or mulled wine. It’s an easy-drinking spirit, but one that stretches the flavor boundaries of whiskey.
Colorado Antero Wheat
Whiskey, Dry Land Distillers
If local’s what you’re after, then grab Dry Land’s Colorado Antero Wheat Whiskey — everything in the spirit is grown within 30 miles of the distillery, and the spent grain from the production of the whiskey goes to Black Cat Farm. The spirit gets its name from the Antero wheat it’s made from, a grain that was developed by Colorado State University in conjunction with local growers. The spirits are bottled from a single barrel, and the result is a complex whiskey with robust spice balanced with cooler flavors like caramel and vanilla.
Others to try
To flesh out your tasting flight, or just for future reference, there are a few other local whiskeys you’ll want to grab if you see them. DV8’s single barrel whiskey is Colorado’s only rice-based whiskey; it’s aged for a year and has a unique flavor profile that includes lemongrass and beeswax. On Point’s Bourbon is a classic take on the spirit, with a smooth vanilla backbone and hints of smoke and spice on each sip. And the Colorado Twister from Hogback Distillery is an excellent entry-level offering; it’s blended from four types of grain, including a healthy dose of wheat, which sweetens and balances the spirit.