Grand Tasting is highlight of Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival | SummitDaily.com

Grand Tasting is highlight of Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival

Krista Driscoll
kdriscoll@summitdaily.com

The Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival will bring 30 distillers from all over Colorado and beyond to the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge on Saturday, Oct. 25, for the Still on the Hill Grand Tasting.

For a $30 ticket, hooch enthusiasts can sample liquors, liqueurs and cocktails, meet the distillers who make the spirits and mingle with other like-minded alcohol adventurers. Here is a very small cross-section of some of the products that will be available to taste at the event.

FEISTY SPIRITS

Jamie Gulden, chief monkey boy for Feisty Spirits in Fort Collins, said his distillery would be toting its spirits up to Still on the Hill for the second time this year. Feisty has been focusing mostly on whiskeys since its spirits went on the market about 18 months ago, so that's what they will be bringing to the table, Gulden said.

"We have a lot of different types of whiskeys," he said. "One of the things I think we do different than a lot of places, instead of making one really good whiskey, we usually have over 20 different whiskeys in our tasting room made with different types of grain and different processes to get different flavor profiles."

Two of the main single-barrel products Feisty will be pouring are its Better Days Bourbon and its Blue Corn Bourbon. The latter is made with blue corn, rather than traditional yellow corn, giving it a unique flavor.

Recommended Stories For You

"Both are really great bourbons, but they are a little bit nontraditional as far as the flavors go," Gulden said. "We'll be pouring our 100 percent rye product, which is a really incredibly smooth rye. We just a got a double gold medal for that, so we're pretty happy about that one. We'll be pouring our maple-cinnamon and American root whiskies, root-tea whiskey. Those are something that's a little bit easier for some people to drink if they aren't used to drinking straight whiskey; they're just really nice flavors. We'll probably also have a holiday cocktail up there, basically a spiced apple brandy."

The flavored whiskeys are made from grain that's grown about 20 miles from the distillery, Gulden said, one an oak-aged whiskey and the other is made from millet.

"Millet is actually a really interesting grain," he said. "It's widely used in other parts of the world but really not used that much in the U.S. It's got a really different flavor profile than grains used for whiskey in the U.S. In this particular instance, we combine it with a root tea, giving it some flavors of chai and sassafras root like root beer. The millet brings a kind of anise, licorice flavor to it."

Gulden said that as a fairly young distillery, Still on the Hill is a great way for Feisty to get its name in front of people and let them try the products.

"People don't really know who we are," he said. "We want people to taste our product; usually when they do, they like it and they do buy it. It's a great way for people to get introduced to us. Plus, it's in the mountains, so you can't complain about that, right?"

COPPERMUSE DISTILLERY

Before Jason Hevelone became owner and distiller at CopperMuse Distillery in Fort Collins, he was an avid home brewer.

"My wife and I thought it would be fun to open up our own brewery," he said. "But Fort Collins and Colorado in general has a lot of breweries, and we never felt comfortable, with the quality we have of breweries in this state, like taking that leap would be a good business decision. I came across my first craft cocktail, just a gin and tonic. It tasted really unique and different and got my attention."

Havelone ended up doing a lot of research and had a lot of conversations with his wife, who initially said he was crazy, and worked out a business plan to open CopperMuse, which came to life in April. This will be the first chance the company will have to participate in the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival, and Havelone said he would be pouring both his vodkas and his rums at the Grand Tasting.

"We have our regular vodka and we have a vodka that is jet black in color, and it's a vodka that is completely neutral just like regular vodka," he said. "We didn't want it to be flavored so it tasted like licorice or squid ink or whatever. That's the value of vodka. Around Halloween, it really makes for some neat cocktails' it does well with a lot of the dark reds and oranges. We're using primarily some coloring to get there. Caramel is the main ingredient, which gives you a dark brown, and by adding a blue element, it pops it into the black regime."

CopperMuse sells both a silver, un-aged rum and a golden-amber rum aged in used bourbon barrels sourced from the Breckenridge Distillery and Pikes Peak Spirits in Fort Collins. Havelone said in addition to pouring his products, he's looking forward to meeting his distilling peers, joining the Colorado Distillers Guild and becoming part of the entire collective.

"It's important to me to have a bigger voice, much like the brewers have come together to promote legislation that promotes job growth, to work on getting a tiered tax system like brewers have," he said. "All distillers have the same tax rate. Brewers, as you get bigger, the more you get taxed to make more of an even playing field there."

WYOMING WHISKEY

The owners of Wyoming Whiskey managed to talk former Makers Mark master distiller Steve Nally out of retirement to create their small-batch bourbon, which was released in its home state in December 2012.

"We convinced him to move to Wyoming to create a traditional bourbon in an untraditional place," said Tim Harland, national sales director. "He helped start our barrel program and formulated our recipe that is now Wyoming Whiskey. Not a lot of people have a legendary bourbon man help start their craft whiskey."

The fourth-generation Wyoming ranchers who started the distillery wanted to build a company that did one thing, did it well and did it right, Harland said.

"Everything that goes into the Wyoming Whiskey come from within 1 to 100 miles of the distillery," he said. "All the corn, the wheat, the barley come from the Bighorn Basin, which is where Kirby is, where our distillery is. It's all local ingredients, and the fortunate aspect of being there is we have one of the best water sources in the world, a mile-deep limestone aquifer, combined with local ingredients making our small-batch bourbon."

The bourbon, which was just released in Colorado this year, has won several awards in Denver and New York, and Harland will be pouring it at Still on the Hill.

"We also have a small sample of barrel-aged cocktail, a rendition of a Manhattan to sample," he said. "It's my own small personal stash of a two-month barrel-aged cocktail.

"I'm very excited to try other regional craft distilled products, to meet and mingle with people in the industry and to get feedback from people at the event, whether they are novice craft spirit drinkers or experts in the field, as well as enjoying Breckenridge because I haven't been there in years and I love that town."

If you go

What: Still on the Hill Grand Tasting, part of the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival

When: 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25

Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge

Cost: Tickets are $30, which includes admission, complimentary tasting glass, craft spirits tasting, craft cocktails, people’s choice voting, artisanal snacks and live music

More information: Visit http://www.breckenridgecraftspiritsfestival.com

Distillers attending

808 Distillery • Black Canyon Distillery • Bone Spirits • Boulder Distillery • Breckenridge Distillery • CopperMuse Distillery • Dancing Pines Distillery • Deerhammer Distilling Co. • Distillery 291 • Downslope Distilling • Feisty Spirits • ForeCastle Rum • Golden Moon Distillery • J & L Distilling Co. • KJ Wood Distillers • Leopold Bros. • Mile High Spirits • Montanya Rum • Black Bear Distillery • Peach Street Distillers • Roundhouse Spirits • Santa Fe Spirits • Snova Vodka • Spirit Hound Distillers • Spring44 Distilling • Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey • Syntax Spirits • Wood’s High Mountain Distillery • Woody Creek Distillers • Wyoming Whiskey