Colorado has become home to a flourishing craft culture -- first with breweries, and now with an increasing number of distillers. From potato vodka and botanical-packed gins, rye whiskey and whiskey made with experimental grains, to the more niche spirits like absinthe and creme de violette, the range of offerings goes on and on.
As even more Colorado distilleries open their doors in the new year, we wanted to celebrate those that started pouring in 2013. Here, in no particular order, are last year's newcomers, well worth the trek to any of their state-spanning tasting rooms.
10) Golden Moon Distillery 412 Violet Street, Golden Stephen Gould, proprietor and distiller at Golden Moon Distillery, began producing spirits in 2012 and distributing earlier this year. Gould and the distilling team at Golden Moon chose the road less traveled, starting with absinthe, and moving onward with spirits ranging from Creme de Violette and dry Curacao to gin -- all hand-crafted with herbs and botanicals sourced from all over the world.
9) State 38 400 Corporate Circle, Golden State 38, also in Golden, focuses on agave-based small-batch spirits, from an oak-barrel-aged blanco, reposado, and anejo, to a vodka and gin. Owner Sean Smiley does all of his own fermentation, distilling and aging. He also hand-packages and labels every single bottle, complete with batch and bottle number.
8) Woody Creek Distillers 60 Sunset Drive, Basalt The spirits made at the state-of-the-art Woody Creek Distillers are distilled and bottled in the Aspen Valley using spring water from Basalt and locally-grown produce (including a hefty load of potatoes) from the Scanlan Family Farm. Their signature spirit, a potato vodka, won a silver medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition -- the first competition it ever entered.
7) Feisty Spirits 1708 East Lincoln Avenue, #1, Fort Collins Feisty Spirits is the first distillery in Fort Collins, producing an interesting, often experimental lineup of whiskeys that use anything from blue and red corn to kamut and millet. Operating a still (affectionately named Aphrodite), the Feisty family has made a habit of pushing distilling boundaries, especially when it comes to innovative fresh grain use.
6) Two Guns Distillery 401 Harrison Avenue, Leadville Two Guns Distillery pays homage to Leadville and its long heritage of whiskey-making, from the 1880s to the dark days of Prohibition. Owner B.A. Dallas' appreciation for this history is apparent in everything at the distillery, both in aesthetic terms and the development of the stilling process. Two Guns pours a Wild West Whiskey, a Single Six Rocky Mountain Moonshine, and a B. A. Dallas Black label, a recipe that is seven years in the making,
5) Honey House Distillery 33633 Hwy 550, A, Durango Durango's Honey House Distillery's flagship and first spirit, Colorado Honey, is a blend of premium bourbon whiskey and Rocky Mountain Honey from Honeyville, a honey purveyor that's been bottling since 1918. In October, it won a gold medal in The New York World Wine & Spirits Competition.
4) Tesouro Distillery 105 South Sunset Street, A, Longmont Tesouro's rum, named after the Portuguese word for treasure, is crafted in Longmont by former mechanical engineer Greg Dubbé. Made by hand in small batches, Tesouro uses Rocky Mountain water and the best raw cane sugar around, then ages it in oak wine barrels for a rich, smooth, flavorful rum.
3) Boathouse Distillery Salida One of a handful of distilleries to lead the small-batch revolution in Salida, Boathouse produces a signature Colorado Bourbon and a smooth Colorado Moonshine, often for a cause: Boathouse works with ranch organizations, land conservation groups and sportsmen's associations, like Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, and Pheasants Forever, to offer limited-edition bottling that support the conservation efforts of these foundations.
2) Wood's High Mountain Distillery 144 West 1st Street, Salida Another Salida gem, Wood's High Mountain Distillery was founded by brother PT and Lee Wood. From their downtown taproom, they pour their single-malt Tenderfoot Whiskey and dry-style Treeline Gin, which is also offered in a barrel-rested variety, made using "Ashley," their antique German pot still built around the 1880s.
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1) KJ Wood Distillers 403 5th Street, Berthoud Berthoud's KJ Wood Distillers began as the dream of K John Wood, taking shape during many years as a home brewer and wine maker. After spending two years developing his spirit brands, he began producing their Jinn Gin, utilizing Rocky Mountain glacial waters, local barley and blue corn, and juniper berries and a host of rare spices -- in it's first year of production, Jinn Gin was awarded a gold medal at the 2013 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition.