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Your Guide to Distillery Crawls in Denver

Denver, Colorado has a long and storied history when it comes to booze. They were against it and then for it again, long before the prohibition era ended in the early 1900s. What has developed from the state’s progressive attitudes toward liquor are some of the most talented and creative distilleries creating products today. The “distillery crawl” fun is also common in the Mile High City and here are just a few places where you can find that fun at whiskey distilleries in Denver. 

Denver Whiskey and Jazz 

Downtown Denver used to be a haven for speakeasies and brothels during the roaring 20s. This specific tour reimagines that time paring jazz with distilled spirits for a distillery crawl to remember. The tour includes stops at hand-picked music venues, a tour of a whiskey distillery in Denver, spirit tastings, history and a whole lot of fun. 

Epic Denver Spirits Tour

The Epic Denver Spirits Tour leaves every Saturday and includes more than three hours of fun for participants. The tour includes tastings at a couple of hand-picked distilleries, rides on a comfortable party bus, professional tastings, and an opportunity to see what happens behind the scenes at one of the Mile High city’s many whiskey distilleries. This epic tour is a great way to get acquainted with one of the city’s most exciting industries.

Denver History and Whiskey Tour

On this tour, you’ll start with a guided walking tour of key points in the city before indulging in delicious whiskey and spirits. Highlights of the tour include the city’s oldest bar, oldest hotel and a tour through one of the city’s largest distilleries. There are plenty of tastings and samples provides along the way to keep your whistle wet and your interest peaked.  

Colorado Spirits Trail

The Colorado Spirits Trail will take you beyond the boundaries of Denver and deep into the Colorado mountains, valleys and plains to sample some of the best whiskeys and spirits the state has to offer. The trail, best done over several days, offers 62 locations where trail goers can stop to sample the wares. There’s a map available to keep track of your stops, and shirts and other giveaways to mark progress along the trail. 

 

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Why Colorado is Producing the Best Gin

The state of Colorado has a long and storied history when it comes to booze. After reluctantly joining the prohibition movement in the early 1900s, and realizing the folly of its ways only a few years later leading to overturning the law. These laws which made criminals out of ordinary people were too restrictive and did little good. So, Colorado gin makers have had many, many years of practice and have become so skilled at their craft, that they are currently producing some of the best gin in the world.

The original home of craft beer

Colorado has always had an explorative and entrepreneurial spirit especially when it comes to alcohol. The state was the original home of the craft beer movement which dates back to the late 1800s, and which experienced a resurgence when the first craft brewery opened in the state in the 1970s. This attitude of ingenuity and commitment to trying things in a different way has led to a successful generation of brewers and distillers.

Early progressive attitudes

Those early years of progressive attitudes toward alcohol have helped pave the way for distillers across the state. They’ve had more time to figure out what works best and what doesn’t work at all. Colorado gin makers have a keen sense of what new and special ingredients work best in this traditional type of alcohol.

Blending history with modern-day

During prohibition, underground speakeasies became the only place where you could indulge in a drink. These days, the speakeasy atmosphere is back by popular demand but for different reasons. The retro-style bar is a favorite among adults throughout Colorado and offers a great date night atmosphere or prelude to a memorable night on the town.

The continued growth of the cocktail experience

These days, people are enjoying not only their cocktails when they belly up to the bar, but the cocktail experience. Bartending in many popular nightspots has become, in part, dinner theatre and mixing up inventive cocktails is the trademark of any well-seasoned barkeep. Gin has always been a critical ingredient in mixology and Colorado gin makers are answering the call by creating inventive blends that customers love.

At Deviation, we do things a bit different. While we borrow from tradition we challenge the conventional manufacturing of spirits. We push the limited of what a truly artisan spirit can be through innovation, utilizing the high-quality Colorado-grown grain and applying unique techniques based on our custom-built equipment. If you want to know where to buy our products click here.

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Denver Distilleries – A Short History of Spirits in Colorado

Colorado is on the forefront of the craft distillery movement. Throughout the state, locals are creating some of the finest spirits in the country with the adopted grain-to-glass methods. There are a variety of distilleries in and around the Denver area producing craft Colorado whiskeys and gin.

Colorado has a diverse set of micro-climates and terrain, bringing about rich soils and raw ingredients for the next new cocktail. This diversity allows farmers to grow grain for spirits and beer, grapes for wine, and other fruits for brandies and liqueurs. Colorado’s cool nights and warm days are ideal for the aging process, helping to infuse flavors from aging barrels to spirits.

Where Did Colorado Distilleries Start?

When Colorado banned alcohol in 1916, four years prior to the rest of the nation’s failed attempt at Prohibition, it took some years to recover the industry. When Prohibition ended in 1933, the first to re-up the beverage industry was Coors brewery in Golden. The spirits industry experienced a slower start.

In 1998, a volunteer firefighter by the name of Jess Graber helped put out a blaze on George Stranahans’s Flying Dog Brewery property. The two discovered a shared passion for good whiskey and a few years later, Colorado’s first distillery was born. By 2000, six distillers had earned their licenses.

What Does it Mean to be “Colorado-Made?”

Colorado-made refers to a product being sourced and produced in Colorado. Most Denver and Colorado distilleries are all Colorado-made, meaning everything in your glass comes from the great state of Colorado.

The same lenient liquor laws that allow breweries to self-distribute apply to distillers too, enabling them to start small and grow slowly by selling directly to liquor stores, restaurants, and walk-in customers. Like all locally crafted products, Colorado distilleries have to compete with large, mass standard liquor producers. As craft distillers gain momentum and make their mark on the market, expect to see more emerging spirits from towns across Colorado both large and small.

Why Choose Local Distilleries?

Choosing a local distillery can be beneficial for more reasons than crafting the perfect cocktail. Colorado distilleries, whether producing whiskey or gin, are a passionate group of enthusiasts who further emphasize the use of the local market. Utilizing the grain-to-glass or farm-to-bar mentality and an emphasis on waste-not production ensures product quality and sustainability.

Many Colorado distillers are rooted in tradition, such as Deviation Distilling located in the heart of Denver. Producing small batch Colorado whiskey and gin, Deviation pushes the limits on what a truly artisan craft spirit can be. With the use of Colorado grown grain, each mash bill created crafts the two varieties of spirits.

Using a unique technique based on custom-built equipment, each batch of whiskey is aged in charred oak casks, while the gin is distilled with a sophisticated blend of botanicals to complement the depth of locally sourced grains. In addition, our Mountain Herb gin in particular is entirely made out of locally sourced ingredients, with the grains and 99% of the botanicals directly stemming from Colorado.

Head to your local liquor store to try Deviation’s unique spirits, including a Citrus Rose, Mountain Herb, or Spice Trade Gin. You can also head directly to the distillery’s cocktail lounge, located at 900 W 1stAve #150, Denver Colorado, 80223.

Whiskey vs. Gin: How Are They Distilled?

Are you a whiskey or gin lover? With endless options for tasty drink recipes, there’s a lot to love about these two alcohols. But have you ever wondered how exactly whiskey and gin are made? Let’s take a closer look at how these two delicious alcohols are distilled.

First of all, what exactly is distillation?

Distillation occurs when a liquid is heated to create a vapor, and is then condensed back into a liquid. The concept of distillation is actually based off of nature. During the day, the sun vaporizes the water found in puddles. However, when the hot sun goes down at night, that vaporized water condenses into water droplets and lands on grass. This simple process is what led our ancestors to experiment with the idea of vaporization and distillation, which ultimately led to our modern practices.

How is whiskey distilled?

Whiskey is a distilled alcohol made from any form of fermented mash. Distillers use ingredients such as barley, rye, wheat, and corn, depending on the geographical location of the distillery. Most Whiskey is made in pot stills or continuous stills and is double or triple distilled. Generally, the more the spirit is distilled, the lighter and purer the final result is. Distillers monitor and collect the most flavorful part called the “heart.” Other parts are redistilled or discarded as they include tastes that aren’t as appealing. Whiskey must be strengthened and aged in a barrel as it cannot mature in a bottle. Although both Whiskey and Gin go through a similar process of fermentation and distillation, they differ in taste and flavor. The different flavors are added to the alcohol and aging process.

What about gin?

There are many different gin styles and classifications, from dry gin to aged gin. The one common element that all styles share is that their predominant flavor stems from juniper berries. Gin’s life starts as a neutral spirit made essentially of pure ethanol, and then the flavor is added during the process of re-distillation. To make the base spirit, gin producers distill the fermented wash in a traditional pot still. This process produces a weak, rough spirit known as low wines. Repeated distillation of the low wines strengthens and purifies the spirit. The base spirit must be redistilled with chosen botanicals such as seeds, berries, roots, and herbs to extract their essential oils and add base flavors to the spirit. There are many different methods of distillation, including steeping and vapor infusion.

If you are looking for a distillery in Denver where you can enjoy both handcrafted whiskey and gin, look no further than Deviation Distillery! We create whiskey destined for a long rest in charred oak casks as well as gin that has been distilled with a sophisticated blend of botanicals specifically chosen to complement the depth of locally sourced grains. Come experience the difference at Deviation Distilling or grab a few of our bottles at several locations in Colorado!

The Perfect Weekend for Gin Lovers in Denver

The perfect weekend for gin lovers should start and end with a Denver distillery tour. Instead of going the traditional route of breweries, try something new with a weekend full of Denver distillery tours. Distilleries offer all the same benefits you get with a brewery tour except you get to drink expertly crafted cocktails and infusions instead of your one hundredth IPA.

Visiting the following Denver distilleries is sure to be a paradise for any gin lover.

First, start your weekend off trying one of the many cocktails at Rising Sun Distillery. This distillery has a quaint atmosphere and also serves food. This is the perfect place to get some food in your stomach and continue the tour on to the main event.

The second stop on your list should be Deviation Distilling. This distillery specializes in gin, which puts them above the rest on our Denver gin lovers tour. If you want to take an actual distillery tour, you should plan to do one here. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and the distillery offers some interesting infusions.

One of the benefits of partaking in a distillery tour is you are able to hear and learn about a distillery’s unique way of crafting their spirits. While the general process does not change from distillery to distillery, the flavor profiles and infusions can vary drastically between establishments. Each distillery prides itself on having quality and well-rounded spirits that provide the customer with a unique tasting experience.  Some gin flavors special to Deviation Distilling are: grapefruit and tarragon, rosemary and white sage, and thai basil and peppercorn.

In addition to learning the ins and outs of the distilling process specific to Deviation, you will also get a history of the distillery. You will be able to ask questions and learn about new creations. If that was not enough to sway your mind, you will also get to sample some spirits as part of the tour. And who doesn’t love free samples?

From Deviation Distilling, move on to Archetype Distillery. This distillery is not far from Deviation and has an interesting vibe. It is influenced by industrial architecture and offer an intriguing drink menu. If you are looking for something a little different, for instance a smoking cocktail, then this is your place.

After Archetype Distillery, make your way over to Denver Distillery for some snacks and free distillery tour. If you are still in the mood to learn about alternate distilling processes take your second distillery tour here. Since it is a free tour you might not be guaranteed the free samples but you will still receive all the know-how.

The last thing you need to remember in order to make this your perfect gin weekend in Denver, is souvenirs! While purchasing hats and T-shirts from each distillery is perfectly fine, the best part about distilleries are their 21 and over souvenir options. Instead of trying to find your favorite gin in a liquor store, get it right at the distillery. Many Denver distilleries bottle and sell their products for a lower price than at that liquor stores. Support your favorite local Denver distillery by purchasing a bottle of your favorite gin on-site and for a fraction of the cost. Talk about a perfect end to a perfect weekend!

Perks of Local Distilleries

The rise of craft breweries in Denver has been monumental, but beer is not the only craft beverage on the rise. Over the past few years, more and more distilleries are popping up around the greater Denver area. As more of these local distilleries gain traction, local communities are reaping the rewards of a booming Denver distillery industry.

Why visit a distillery over a liquor store?

You might be thinking, why bother with a distillery when I could just go to a liquor store? Well, the perks of supporting a local Denver distillery are endless. Not only will you get better quality liquor and spirits at a more affordable price, but you are supporting local business development as well.

Perks of local distilleries

1.) A new and fun experienceA main perk of visiting a local distillery is the experience that is associated with it. Just like a brewery, distilleries give tours and informational sessions on the distilling process, along with tasting flights and events. Visiting a local distillery is not only a great place to treat yourself, but also the perfect setting to get together with friends, hold a happy hour, take a date and even celebrate more important occasions such as birthdays or engagement parties. Distilleries typically have a laid back environment with knowledgeable staff to provide excellent customer service and answer any questions you may have about the distilling process or spirits in general!

2.) Reward your taste buds
The biggest perk of local distilleries is the variation in their spirits’ tastes and styles. While you may think all gin or whiskey tastes the same, you would be mistaken. When you visit a local distillery you open your senses up to different infusions and flavor profiles you would never be able to try or buy in a liquor store. Every distillery takes pride in the way they create and infuse their liquors. Supporting your community’s local distilleries allows you to taste and take home your favorite liquors and spirits at a fraction of the cost. Liquor stores tack on an additional upsell price, while buying a bottle from your favorite distillery saves you money and ensures you will actually enjoy what you are purchasing.

3.) Support local business
Very similarly to the brewery culture in Denver, the distillery and spirit industry is making great strides. The craft brew industry launched Denver as a major brewing city, comparable to St. Louis or Milwaukee, and the distillery industry is on the same path. Local distilleries help the economic growth and development of their communities. The distillery business not only stimulates the local economy but also creates jobs for community residents. While you might think the only jobs distilleries create are service industry jobs, there are more options than becoming a server or bartender. Some of the most common job opportunities local distilleries create are:

  • Vehicle operators and delivery positions
  • Sales representatives
  • Wholesale and manufacturing occupations
  • Economic developers
  • Construction and/or materials movers
  • Retail and marketing
  • Equipment installations, maintenance and repair jobs

The Denver distillery culture is not something you want to pass on. When you visit a local Denver distillery, such as Deviation Distilling, you can rest easy knowing the drink you order is helping your local economy, as if any of us need another reason to enjoy a few drinks with friends.

What is Gin?

A gin and tonic may be one of the most commonly ordered drinks, and for good reason. The distinctive juniper taste of gin makes it a delicious spirit and more than just flavored vodka.

 

But what exactly is gin?

 

Gin is a spirit primarily made from fermented grain, but can also have a base of grapes, molasses and sugar beets. Gin goes through a double distillation process in which the fermented grain is distilled into a clear and neutral spirit otherwise known as a base spirit. From this base spirit you are able to make other spirits, for example, the Denver gin distillery “Deviation” uses the same grain and base spirit to make both their gin and whiskey products.

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