Colorado became a state on August 1, 1876, and this year, our ol’ gal turns 145. (Looks good for her age, doesn’t she?) It’s time to toast, to cheer, to raise your glass to our great state—and we think it’s worth busting out the good stuff. If you’re wondering what to serve, start with one of these seven delicious, Colorado-made whiskeys—all of which are excellent neat, on the rocks, or in your favorite summer cocktail.

State 38 Whiskey
Colorado Day Straight Rye Whiskey. Photo courtesy of State 38

State 38: Colorado Day Straight Rye Whiskey

Golden’s State 38 Distilling came onto the scene in 2013 with unique, agave-based spirits, but its whiskeys can throw down, too. This year, State 38 is releasing a special edition in honor of Colorado Day: barrel-proof, unfiltered, and uncut rye whiskey made with Colorado grains and water from the Rockies. The distillery partnered with local artist Jesse Crock to create a specialty label for the whiskey celebrating the majesty of this great state. $69; Visit the distillery on July 30 for a launch party for the Colorado Day Straight Rye Whiskey, featuring a signing with the label artist; 400 Corporate Cir., Ste. B, Golden; 4–6 p.m.

Stranahan’s: Colorado Single Malt Whiskey

Stranahan’s is Colorado’s first legal distillery since Prohibition, and it continues to grace us with whiskeys representative of the state today. Their flagship whiskey is touted as the first Rocky Mountain single malt, proudly made with homegrown barley and cut with Colorado snowmelt. $60; 200 South Kalamath St.; Visit the distillery on August 1 for a Colorado Day Bash, featuring free distillery tours, live music, and food trucks; 12–8 p.m.

Distillery 291 Spirits
Spirits from Distillery 291. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

Distillery 291: Colorado Rye Whiskey

Over the past few years, spirits coming out of Colorado Springs’ Distillery 291 have been making waves. In 2018, this whiskey won “World’s Best Rye” at the World Whiskies Awards, beating out giants from Kentucky and Tennessee and putting Colorado on the map. The rye is made with local grains and water collected from Pikes Peak reservoirs, then finished with toasted aspen staves to give it a true Rocky Mountain flavor. $78.99; 4242 N. Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs

Laws Whiskey House: Centennial Straight Wheat Whiskey–Bonded 

This limited edition whiskey from Laws Whiskey House is the first wheat whiskey to be “bottled in bond” in Colorado, meaning the grains are harvested during a single season, and the whiskey is made by a single distiller at a single distillery (it also has to be aged at least four years). Laws uses all heirloom and heritage grains in their spirits—in this case, it’s the bright-and-floral Soft White Centennial Spring Wheat grown in the San Luis Valley on a family farm. $75.99; 1420 S Acoma St.

Bear Creek Distillery: Wheated Bourbon Whiskey

Don’t sleep on this small but mighty distillery in Overland—which is beloved by locals for its good spirits and friendly ambiance. The Wheated Bourbon was born when the team decided to swap wheat for rye in their bourbon mash bill—an experiment that paid off. Aged in American white oak barrels, this award-winning bourbon has hints of caramel and fruit, with a smooth and slightly sweet finish. $45; 1879 S. Acoma St.

Ella Jones Bourbon
Ella Jones Bourbon from The Family Jones. Photo courtesy of The Family Jones

The Family Jones: Ella Jones Colorado Straight Bourbon Whiskey

The Family Jones has set itself apart with stylish labels, a swanky tasting room, and creative cocktails, but don’t let that distract you from the company’s straight-up spirits, which are stellar on their own. Ella Jones is made with Colorado grains, grown by farmers the distiller has cultivated long-time relationships with. This attention to detail and connection to the community makes for a bourbon that truly tastes like Denver. $45; 3245 Osage St.

Breckenridge Distillery: Breckenridge Bourbon

Made at the highest distillery in the world at 9,600 feet, Breck’s bourbon is one you want to keep in the liquor cabinet 24/7. The spirit has won “Best American Blended” four times at the World Whiskies Awards and was named “Best Bourbon” in 2011 at the International Wine & Spirits Competition. Can’t make it to the tasting room this weekend? Enjoy your glass of bourbon with a virtual tour online. $45; 137 S. Main St., Breckenridge

Riane Menardi Morrison
Riane Menardi Morrison
Riane is 5280’s former digital strategy editor and assistant food editor. She writes food and culture content. Follow her at @riane__eats.