Colorado's robust network of distillers keeps putting forth excellent expressions of their craft. As we round into summer, here's a trio of local spirits worth seeking out in your favorite cocktail establishment or adding to your home bar for porch sipping or warm-weather cocktailing.
Ski Bum Rum
331 Corporate Circle, Suite C, Golden
Ryan Max Riley launched Ski Bum Rum a year ago, using a custom-made copper still to make his rums the way they were made 150 years ago, before big companies stripped flavor agents out of their silver rums to make them more like vodka. Borrowing lessons from Scotch producers, he works to extract maximum flavor during distillation, producing a remarkably complex silver rum — the Last Run Silver — that showcases the rich raw sugar that serves as his base. Adjusting his cuts helps him get a more delicate base spirit for his coconut rum, dubbed Edelweiss Coconut and infused with real coconut, and a headier launch point for his spiced rum, Local Legend. All three are easy to sip over an ice cube, and they add more depth to cocktails than much of what you'd otherwise pluck off the shelf. You can find Ski Bum Rums in liquor stores all over the state, but it's worth heading out to the Golden tasting room to chat with Riley, who, in addition to leading you through a tasting of the spirits, will mix you a daiquiri or piña colada while you watch old ski videos on his projector.
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Leopold Bros. Summer Gin
4950 Nome Street
Leopold Bros. makes its gin offerings a trifecta with the Summer Gin, which, says owner and head distiller Todd Leopold, was born from a desire to make a lighter summer spirit. As with its siblings, this gin starts with a base spirit made in-house from wheat, potato and malted barley, and derives its flavor from blood orange and lemon myrtle, which Leopold says adds citrusy depth on the mid-palate without imparting an artificial note that you sometimes get with lemons. You'll also get a whiff or taste of cucumber and honey when you sip; Leopold says that comes from an herb called everlasting flower that also in the blend. At 94 proof, this gin packs a punch, and it's nice neat or mixed into a summery cocktail. Just pounce quickly: this is a seasonal release, says Leopold, and it won't be around once the company sells through the run. But fear not: It will be back every summer.
A.D. Laws Bottled in Bond Straight Corn Whiskey and Bottled in Bond Two Grain Straight Bourbon
1420 South Acoma Street
To label your spirit a straight corn whiskey, you must use un-charred barrels, which explains why these spirits are so light in color and delicate in flavor. The A.D. Laws Bottled in Bond Straight Corn is made from 86 percent corn and 14 percent malted barley, and was aged for nearly five years in toasted (but un-charred) new oak. Per its name, it also meets the criteria for Bottled in Bond, which means it was aged in a federally bonded and supervised warehouse for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof. The resultant spirit is light and mellow, with notes of butterscotch and toffee. A nice summer sipper over ice, it’s one of the few Laws spirits we’d mix in a cocktail (the others are so complex we like to enjoy them with just a couple of drops of water). But if you’d like to do the same, you need to get yourself to the tasting room this week: This is an extremely limited run, and it won’t be available anywhere else. As for the Two Grain Straight Bourbon? It has the same mash bill and Bottled in Bond specs as the corn, but it was aged in charred oak.