Denver and Colorado have long been recognized as havens for beer lovers and brewers, which explains the wide variety of brewery tours. Only in recent years has that love of fine craft alcohol transferred to the art of distilling spirits.
STRANAHAN'S COLORADO WHISKEY
Stranahan's lays claim to being the first Colorado-born whiskey, and the company remains committed to making the smoothest, most distinctively flavored whiskey on the market. How do they do it? By using handcrafted distilling techniques and Colorado's finest natural ingredients. The connoisseurs of the beverage world are taking notice, too: Stranahan's Batch 49 was voted artisanal whiskey of the year in 2010 by Malt Advocate magazine.
Tours (fees required) of the distillery last approximately one hour and include an overview of the company and a guided stroll through the production brew house, still house and rack house. See the bottling room floor and — most importantly — get a taste of Colorado's most precious gold, Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey. All guests are required to have a valid ID with proof of age. Must be 21. Reservations are highly recommended, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Make an online reservation.
Laws Whiskey House is all about the long game. Each batch of its A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon is produced via traditional open-air fermentation, aged a minimum of two years in 53-gallon charred American White Oak barrels and includes meticulously sourced ingredients: water, yeast, corn, barley, wheat and rye. (Hence the name "Four Grain.") Grab a glass in the tasting room or schedule a tour to see how it's done. Tours available Wed.–Sun. Tour cost is $10. A credit of $10 will be issued at the end of the tour toward any product purchased in the tasting room.
The mission at Rising Sun Distillery is simple: produce the finest handcrafted distilled spirits around and have fun doing it! They start with the best locally sourced produce and grains available (much of it organic), then prepare the spirits using pure, filtered Colorado water. As a craft distillery, Rising Sun's vodka, gin, Colorado peach brandy and various liqueurs (we love the lavender hibiscus!) are handmade from scratch in small batches to assure high quality and consistent flavor. Stop by the tasting room for a unique twist on a Shanghai (pineapple juice, lime, rice vinegar, chili, simple syrup and RSD Vodka). Free tours available Tues.–Sat. Book your tour online.
Denver Distillery is the city's first distillery-pub, meaning you can enjoy creative in-house spirits like strawberry kiwi liqueur, apple pie moonshine and spiced rum, along with beer, wine, cider and spirits from other local makers. Enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail or a bite from Boulder's Tip Top Savory Pies. This micro-distillery is located inside a repurposed historic hotel and specializes in creating small-batch, grain-to-glass spirits from natural and local ingredients using traditional distillation techniques. Call (720) 381-3226 to schedule a free tour.
You'll find spirits from this family-owned (hence the name) distillery on cocktail menus across Denver. Whether your tastes run to whiskey, gin, vodka, fernet, absinthe, liqueur or aperitivo, Leopold Bros. doesn't disappoint. The operation began in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but brothers Todd and Scott Leopold moved back to their home state of Colorado in 2008, where they set up shop in Denver in the Stapleton neighborhood. Locals especially love their unique flavored spirits, such as the Rocky Mountain Peach Whiskey, Rocky Mountain Blackberry Whiskey, Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur and Frenchpress-Style American Coffee Liqueur. Schedule a tour to taste up to 15 of their different spirits! Tours available Thurs.–Sun. at various times. Tour cost is $20. A credit of $10 will be issued at the end of the tour toward two bottles purchased in the tasting room. The other $10 will be donated to one of four local non-profit organizations. Schedule your tour.
Featuring the perfect pairing of food and spirits, The Family Jones Spirit House in LoHi offers up craft cocktails made with their in-house spirits, as well as innovative dishes like Roasted Pumpkin Fondue, Baked Stuffed Key West Shrimp and Beef Strogagnocchi. Tours available Saturdays at 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tour cost is $15 and includes tastings of all seven spirits. A credit of $10 will be issued at the end of the tour toward any one bottle purchased in the tasting room. Reserve your tour spot online.
Looking for a place to grab a drink in Denver's RiNo Art District? Look no further than Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse. Ironton distills the spirit of adventure into each bottle of their housemade vodka, gin, aquavit, and flavored liqueur. Sip a cocktail or a glass of local beer or wine on the outdoor patio or while you browse the Ironton Gallery.
Downslope's goal is to produce and sell the highest quality distilled spirits available, to do so locally and to make those products first available to the Colorado community. This Centennial distillery's unique and award-winning products include Cane Vodka (made from the juice of Maui sugar cane before it's processed into sugar), Pepper Vodka (infused with New Mexico dried red chilies and black pepper from Indonesia) and Gold Rum (created in the same barrels used for tequila).
BLACK CANYON DISTILLERY
Black Canyon, located about 35 miles north of Denver in Mead, makes beautifully balanced whiskey from fine Colorado grain and pure Rocky Mountain water. Stop by the tasting room for a tumbler of Black Canyon Winter Whiskey, which won a gold medal at last year's Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival. The distillers are excited to debut the company's first Bourbon this August.
Boulder's award-winning Vapor Distillery (formerly Roundhouse Spirits) makes its spirits in exceptionally small batches, using only the finest raw ingredients and traditional copper pot stills. In addition to standards such as Rhok Gin and Pruf Vodka, try the Arrosta Coffee Liqueur and seasonal Pumpkin King Cordial. Stop by for a tour Tues.–Fri. at 4 p.m. or Sat.–Sun. at 3 p.m. or 5 p.m.
Looking for a comfortable and insightful way to experience Denver's distillery business? Consider taking a tour with Mile High Tap Tours. Besides learning about the magic behind producing spirits and cocktails, tour guests also get a glimpse of Denver history. The chauffeured van tour lasts approximately four hours and includes at least one behind-the-scenes distillery tour as well as tastings or cocktails at each stop. Or, craft (pun intended) your own tour of some of Colorado's finest distilleries along the Colorado Spirits Trail.