Tincup American Whiskey screams Colorado. The bottle makes multiple references to the state, as does the leaflet that comes attached to the neck. Its website is plastered with whiskey bottles positioned picturesquely in Colorado mountain backdrops, and the company boasts of its connection to Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey co-founder Jess Graber, who can be seen on those pages sitting next to mountain streams.
But despite all the marketing about Colorado, Tincup isn't actually distilled here -- and isn't connected to the state's craft distilling movement in any way. Rather, it is made in Indiana with Midwest grains and then shipped to Colorado where it is cut with local water and bottled at the Stranahan's plant.
The reason is because it costs less to distill in Indiana, which keeps the cost of the product down, Graber explains. Cutting it with Colorado water, however, is important. "I'm proud," he says. "It's a real good whiskey, I wouldn't stand behind something that wasn't good."
Both Tincup and Stranahan's are owned by Proximo Spirits, a New Jersey/New York based liquor importer that also owns 1800 Tequila, Three Olives Vodka, and Kraken Rum. The company acquired Stranahan's in 2010. But Tincup is more accessible than Stranahan's, costing $27.99 a bottle, or about half the price of its Colorado cousin.
"It's a natural outgrowth of Stranahan's," Graber says about Tincup, adding that making a bourbon like Tincup was something he'd wanted to do for more than a decade. Made with a blend of corn, rye and malt, and cut with Rocky Mountain water, Tincup's high rye content gives it a spicier flavor than most bourbons.
The first legal Colorado whiskey, Stranahan's has enjoyed a great deal of success since its inception in 2004. It has won countless awards and received great reviews. The company also kicked off the state's craft distilling revolution and created a nationwide buzz about Colorado.
A buzz that Proximo is now capitalizing on: The marketing materials for Tincup says that the whiskey "honors Colorado's first whiskey drinkers, the pioneering, hardscrabble miners of the mid-19th century who sought their fortunes in the state's gold rush."
"It is named for Tincup, an old mining town in Gunnison County, Colo., which itself was named for the tin cups used by miners. TINCUP salutes this heritage with its rugged hexagonal bottle that is deeply embossed and suggests the Rocky Mountains. Its closure is an actual tin cup that can be used for sipping and sharing."
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Still, the brand doesn't claim anywhere to have been made in Colorado -- simply bottled here. Which is perhaps why its full name is Tincup American Whiskey.