These Colorado Distillers Won Big at the World Whiskies Awards | Westword

These Colorado Distillers Won Big at the World Whiskies Awards

“The quality of spirits coming out of the state is only getting better and better."
Meagan and Patrick Miller, Founders of Talnua Distillery in Arvada
Meagan and Patrick Miller, Founders of Talnua Distillery in Arvada Joni Schrantz
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If there was any doubt that Colorado distillers have put the state on the map for quality whiskey, look no further than the 2024 World Whiskies Awards, where seven local spirits makers were recognized.

Ryan Negley, blender and brand manager at Boulder Spirits by Vapor Distillery, says these awards are a big deal and are very respected within the industry. The Boulder distillery won a gold medal for its Straight Bourbon Whiskey Cask Strength. “The whiskeys we've been putting out the last couple of years are starting to see really great character development,” Negley says. “That means some of the whiskey is getting older, some is exploring new types of oak casks, some are stored in warmer parts of our warehouse,” all of which help add depth.

“Colorado is certainly where it's at,” he adds. The state "has been making some big splashes — not just in recent years, but since the beginning of the small-distillery boom.”
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Laws Whiskey House was honored for its Four Grain Cask Strength Bourbon.
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Casey Rizzo, brand education and marketing coordinator at Laws Whiskey House, says it’s incredibly exciting to see Colorado’s distilling industry gaining recognition on a larger scale and that the distillery is honored to be part of the tight-knit community. Laws won Best Non-Kentucky Bourbon with its Four Grain Cask Strength Bourbon in the U.S. awards as well as World's Best Small Batch Bourbon.

“Winning an award of this caliber brings recognition not only to Laws, but to Colorado as a whole,” Rizzo says. “On a national scale, it's validation for the quality and craftsmanship that Colorado whiskey represents in addition to the efforts of the entire Laws Village.”

Laws utilizes corn that comes from Whiskey Sister Supply in Burlington and heirloom wheat, rye and barley grown and malted by Colorado Malting Company in the San Luis Valley, truly representing a Colorado-made product. Rizzo adds that as the whiskey ages, the state’s elevation and barometric pressure variations play a significant role in enhancing its flavor profile and proof point. It also contributes to the deep oak and spice notes found in Laws Four Grain Bourbon.
Breckenridge Distillery's Port Cask Finish Whiskey won multiple honors at this year's awards.
Breckenridge Distillery / Instagram

Jessie Unruh, director of marketing for Breckenridge Distillery, points to Colorado’s spirits industry growth over the past fifteen years. “Today, there are so many creating great whiskey and disrupting the industry with innovative products,” she says. Breckenridge won Best Non-Kentucky Finished Bourbon and America’s Best Finished Bourbon for its Port Cask Finish Whiskey; a gold medal for PX Sherry Cask Finish Whiskey; and a bronze in the Blended category for its Bourbon Whiskey. The distillery also took home an Icon of Whiskey Campaign Innovator of the Year for its Après Anywhere national marketing campaign.

Talnua Distillery’s Old Saint’s Keep 2023 was named the best American Pot Still. “To be recognized as one of the leaders in this category means the world to a craft producer at our stage,” says co-founder and head distiller Patrick Miller. “It’s amazing to be listed alongside the peers in our industry.” The Arvada distillery is America's first single-pot whiskey distillery.

“These awards have shown that Colorado is making best-in-class whiskey in America,” adds Talnua co-founder and vice president Meagan Miller, adding that over the years, the whiskey scene has really started to come into its own. “The quality of spirits coming out of the state is only getting better and better, and people are starting to take notice of Colorado as a world-class player in the whiskey industry."

Other Colorado distillers that won at the World Whiskies Awards this year are Hogback Distillery in Boulder in the Single Cask Single Malt category for its Wallace Collection Peated Malt; Distillery 291 in Colorado Springs, which was named Whiskey Brand Innovator of the Year; and Greg Metze of Old Elk Distillery in Fort Collins, who took the title of Master Distiller/Master Blender of the Year.
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