Change at Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey will come slowly

Not much is going to change at Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey now that the distillery has been purchased by New Jersey's Proximo Spirits -- at least not for a while.

"What is interesting is that Stranahan's is selling so well in Colorado that we are going to focus 99 percent of our efforts there for now," says Elwyn Gladstone, vice president of marketing for Proximo. "Everything in Colorado sells out."

Stranahan's is available in other states, but only in very limited quantities. Eventually, however, Proximo would like to crack the markets in New York, New Jersey, Chicago and elsewhere in a big way. But that takes time, Gladstone points out. "It's a slow, steady progression," he says. "It's like the whiskey itself. You have to wait for it to mature. Our strategy is very much gradual."

Right now, Stranahan's is buying the equipment it will need to ramp up production as its distillery. It also plans to spruce up its visitors center, where it gives tours, and get into the duty-free shop in Denver International Airport's B terminal.

Stranahan's will also advertise more in Aspen, Vail and other parts of Colorado and participate in public events -- like the gubernatorial inauguration party on January 11. "We are sending 24 bottles of Stranahan's to be used in the barbeque sauce for the evening," Gladstone says.

Stranahan's, which was founded in 2004 by Jess Graber and Aspen businessman George Stranahan, makes small-batch, high-end whiskey that retails for $50 or more per bottle. The company moved in 2009 from its longtime headquarters in Ballpark neighborhood to the former Heavenly Daze building 200 South Kalamath Street.

Proximo, which also owns Hangar 1 vodka, Kraken Black Spiced Rum and 1800 Tequila, bought the company at the end of last year.

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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes