The Colorado Spirits Trail Officially Launches This Saturday

Jake Cox
A beautiful sunrise meant the whiskey would be coming soon.

Colorado has had a growing distillery scene for years now. From long-running favorites such as Woody Creek Distillers, Leopold Bros. Distillery and Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey to new players like Longtucky Spirits and Denver Distillery, there are plenty of quality bottles to choose from. Now there's a service that ties many of them together.

Enter the Colorado Spirits Trail, a map created by the Colorado Distillers Guild that's meant to help visitors and residents explore the state's drinking culture while getting a sense of Colorado as a whole. The woman who got the whole thing started is Dawn Nudell Richardson, owner of Rising Sun Distillery (1330 Zuni Street) and now the Colorado Spirits Trail ambassador. After hearing about how much money a similar project called the Kentucky Bourbon Trail generated, she called P.T. Wood, president of the Colorado Distillers Guild and owner of Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida, and asked him why the organization didn't have its own booze trail.

Dawn Nudell Richardson (left), owner of Rising Sun Distillery. - RISING SUN DISTILLERY
Dawn Nudell Richardson (left), owner of Rising Sun Distillery.
Rising Sun Distillery
"We have a lot of distilleries, and Colorado is a more interesting place to visit than Kentucky," she notes. "So I said I would organize it and pull together a committee."

She did, and included other members of the guild, such as Sean Smiley of Golden's State 38 Distilling, Jay Johnson of Beaver Creek Distillery, Jason Hevelone from Copper Muse Distillery in Fort Collins, and the Stranahan's team. Thanks to them and a grant through the Colorado Office of Tourism, the ball started to roll. About a year later, the map was ready, and beginning Saturday, February 24, you'll be able to map your own Colorado distillery adventure.

click to enlarge Ryan Negley of Deerhammer Distilling Co. in Buena Vista. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Ryan Negley of Deerhammer Distilling Co. in Buena Vista.
Linnea Covington
Included on the map are 51 distilleries from all over the state. Among them are Durango Craft Spirits, Idlewild Spirits Distillery in Winter Park, Syntax Spirits in Greeley, Distillery 291 in Colorado Springs, Deerhammer Distilling Company in Buena Vista, and many more. Even the isolated Sand Creek Distillery in tiny Hugo (population: 730) made the list.

Start your self-guided tour by picking up a map at the participating venues (you can also download a copy on the Spirits Trail website). Soon imbibers will also be able to get the maps at the airport and tourist information offices. As a bonus, if you buy a bottle of booze, cocktail or merchandise at the distillery you're visiting, you can get your map stamped. Collect ten stamps to receive a special Colorado Spirits Trail T-shirt, which can be picked up at any of the distilleries on the list.

But those looking to really go all out can participate in "The Challenge," a competition to be one of the first 24 people to visit all the open distilleries on the 2018 map (some aren't open to the public, but those are marked on the map). The first 24 people to collect a stamp from each one will receive a signed bottle from all the distilleries to add to their personal home bar.

The Colorado Spirits Trail will officially kick off on Saturday at the first annual Colorado Distillers Guild Hearts and Trails party, which is presented by Two Parts. It's at Mile High Station (2027 West Colfax Avenue) from 4 to 7 p.m. (or VIP entry starting at 3 p.m.). Purchase tickets, starting at $45, online.