We (blindly) sampled 15 Colorado whiskeys to give you the goods on our state's best for "Top Shelf," our February story on the state's distilleries. Here we offer expanded—and sometimes messy—notes for our panel's top picks. (Hey, you try writing neatly after 15 whiskeys.)
Spring44 Straight Bourbon, $40
Straight Bourbon from Loveland’s Spring44 delivers a rich mouthful of caramel and nutty sweetness with every sip.
Breckenridge Distillery, Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey, $60
Made with Breckenridge snowmelt, this bourbon is layered and balanced with notes of sweet caramel.
Boathouse Distillery, Colorado Bourbon Whiskey, $35
Born in Kentucky but finished in Salida near the banks of the Arkansas River, Boathouse’s smooth, light Colorado Bourbon Whisky is an amiable introduction for whiskey neophytes.
Peach Street Distillers, Colorado Straight Bourbon, $60
Peach Street’s crisp, clean bourbon delivers fruity undertones that make it great for sipping on its own or in a mixed drink.
Dancing Pines Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey, $40
Loveland-based Dancing Pines’ version proves to be a consummate bourbon—oaky and a bit sweet.
Deerhammer Distilling Company, Down Time Single Malt Whiskey, $50
With its distinct smoky flavor, this single malt whiskey from Buena Vista’s Deerhammer Distilling may be as close as we’re going to get to Colorado “Scotch.”
Colorado Gold Distillery, Corn Whiskey, $25
This Cedaredge corn whiskey’s light, smooth, mildly fruity flavor profile derives from local ingredients. Colorado State University graduate and head distiller Mike Almy sources nearly all of his ingredients from the Centennial State, including Western Slope corn.
Black Canyon Distillery, Sour Mash Whiskey, $26
Based in Mead, Black Canyon’s sour mash corn whiskey was inspired by an Old West Saloon, and it’s not hard to imagine a couple of cowboys sippin’ this well-balanced version.
Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, $59
When most people think of Colorado whiskey, Stranahan’s springs immediately to mind. And for good reason: Not only was it the first to produce a Colorado-born whiskey, but Stranahan’s booze is also damn tasty, with notes of caramel and fruit and a hot but clean finish.