SALIDA - PT Wood is delving deeply into a snifter of gin as Lenny Eckstein details the botanicals used in distilling his subtle concoction.Some peppercorns, caraway seeds, cardamom. A lot of citrus."I like the pennyroyal coming in early, but I miss the juniper fragrance," says Eckstein, owner of Buena Vista's Deerhammer Distilling Co., which opened a year ago and recently sold out of its first run of single-malt whiskey."It's really interesting," says Wood, owner of Wood's High Mountain Distillery in Salida. "It's nice."The two distillers are part of a craft-libations boom in the Upper Arkansas Valley, where soon 11 breweries, distillers and winemakers will be crafting beer, aging whiskey and bottling wine. That's roughly one brewhouse, distiller and vintner for every 2,000 residents in Chaffee and Lake counties. Area boosters say it's the highest per-capita density of craft-beverage makers in the country.And soon, they will be united under one mantle, merging their talents and passions into the Ark Valley Libation Society, a regional craft guild where collaboration trumps competition."Competition is a weird thing in this industry because there's so much out there. In the craft world, it's more about getting good stuff out there," says Eckstein, who delivered a couple of his whiskey-tinged oak barrels to Salida's new Elevation Beer Co. for aging a Belgian ale. "There's nobody I'd rather give these barrels to."To read this article in its entirety, go to http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_22243081/arkansas-valley-libations-society-merges-brewers-distillers-vintners?IADID=Search-www.denverpost.com-www.denverpost.com
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