Colorado has built quite a reputation in the last twenty years as being home to some of the best and most diverse craft beer this side of Bavaria. You almost can’t throw a rock these days without hitting a new microbrewery, and the best part is they are all good! But not a lot of people know that Colorado is also home to some world-class vineyards, as well as some excellent distilleries. Some of which are right here in Salida. Maybe the remoteness makes finding these gems so much more interesting, and the spirits they are distilling, that much more palatable.
First, a little geography lesson
The Colorado Front Range is typically recognized as the I-25 corridor, running south from Ft. Collins, parallel to the Rocky Mountains until Colorado Springs. Including the Denver metropolitan area as well as several growing cities. To the east are the Colorado plains, but to the west, you will find a little slice of mountain paradise named Salida.
The Western Slope is just about everything west of the Continental Divide, all the way to Utah. Nestled between the Sawatch Range, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the Arkansas Valley to the North is the mountain town of Salida, Colorado. A mecca for outdoor adventurers, Salida straddles the Arkansas River and has drawn whitewater rafters and kayakers for decades.
The town is known for activities for outdoor enthusiasts, but also boasts a trio of distilleries with flavors for your pallet that will rival the rugged scenery of the area. So if you find yourself answering the call of the mountains, know that there are some great spirits to enjoy while on your trip.
Wood’s High Mountain Distillery
Salida is known for its hospitality. Among Colorado mountain towns, Salida is one of the friendliest places you can find yourself. Wood’s High Mountain Distillery is no exception. Whether it is sampling flights of gin or whiskey or buying the whole bottle, Wood’s spirits are made in small batches on the premises, and their staff of bartenders will be your guides on a journey of the senses.
In business since 2012, the Wood brothers, P.T and Lee, started with an antique German distilling pot they named “Ashley” and started distilling spirits for public sale. Their goal was to encapsulate mountain living, as known by locals, who for generations have been enjoying their liquor, made right at home.
What they have in store for you
- Tenderfoot Malt Whiskey: Made from two-row barley and cherrywood smoked malted barley rye and wheat. Like its Bourbon cousin, aged in new American white oak barrels, this whiskey is bold and sophisticated, with notes of tobacco and chocolate with a nice smoky finish.
- Alpine Rye Whiskey: A distinctive rye with a smoky finish as well as notes of cinnamon, citrus, caramel, and coffee. This whiskey is released only in limited batches and availability is seasonal.
- Treeline Gin: This crisp gin is fruity and bright with notes of licorice and citrus. Inspired by London style gin but made from Rocky Mountain Juniper berries.
- Treeline Barrel Rested Gin: Same as Treeline, but aged in American white oak barrels for a vanilla, oak, and caramel finish.
- Mountain Hopped Gin: A unique blend, inspired by the craft beer industry which has introduced hops to nearly everything, this gin is floral with earthy tones and a sweet finish.
- Elderflower Liqueur: It sounds like something made by elves, doesn’t it? The flavor is nothing shy of magical. This liqueur crafted from native Colorado elderflower and honey. Enjoy it on its own as a dessert aperitif or become your own mixologist and use it to experiment on your own!
Deerhammer Distilling Company
Just a short drive north along the Arkansas River from Salida, the sleepy town of Buena Vista (pronounced “Byew-na Vis-ta” by the locals) is Deerhammer Distilling Company. A cozy and comfortable spot to stop along the way during your adventures, Deerhammer has been making single malt whiskey and four-grain bourbons their business for years. Inspired by Scottish distilling practices and the help of a 140-gallon copper still, created by an artisan known as “the Colonel,” Deerhammer has come into their own with faith and determination in what they do. Lenny Eckstein began with a dream that his product would pay homage to the frontiersmen of the early days of Colorado. Men and women who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and endured hardships to bring us to where we are today. While at Deerhammer Distilling Company, try a sample flight or buy a bottle or two. Resident mixologists will probably have something in mind for your taste buds too. All you need to do is ask!
Here is what they do best
- American Single Malt Whiskey: Made from a distinctive porter-style mash of malted barley, open-air fermented and aged in charred white oak barrels, it has a delicious flavor with coffee and chocolate notes.
- Straight Bourbon Whiskey: A blend of corn, wheat, smoked oats and roasted barley, this bourbon is a delight to the senses. Made from a sour mash and open fermentation, this spirit is distilled in a direct-fire pot and aged for two and a half years in toasted virgin oak barrels. This Bourbon is like drinking Colorado in a glass, with complex qualities and a rich, enduring flavor.
- Rough and Tumble Corn Whiskey: Not a far cry from the early days of distilling in the Wild West, this corn liquor made from locally sourced Colorado corn, cold smoking, and direct-fire pot distilling. No frills and no-nonsense, this whiskey is not for the weak. It is perfect for sipping in front of the campfire or enjoying a dram while watching the game.
- Dutch Style Gin: A gin distilled from 100% malted barley, this gin infused with a variety of spices and botanical notes. Juniper, coriander, star anise, hibiscus, cardamom, chicory, and many others. A crisp complement to cool summer nights under countless stars, or cozy holidays tucked in for the night in front of the warm glow of a fireplace.
Complete your next Colorado adventure by tasting the mountains. True traveling is done by seeing what the locals have to offer and enjoying their culture. So when traveling to the Salida area, make sure to imbibe on some local spirits and enjoy a truly unique experience! Contact us to see how else your stay in Colorado can be an experience like no other.