Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
DENVER – While Colorado might be best known for its beer, the state’s pristine water has helped launch dozens of distilleries in the Rocky Mountains.
Distillers range from large commercial operations like Stranahan’s to family-owned stills tucked into industrial parks. Styles range from whiskey and bourbon to rye, moonshine, gin, vodka and rum, and most distillers offer tours and tastings. While some of the distilleries simply offer small tastes of their products, many have turned their tasting rooms into full-fledged bars offering handcrafted cocktails.
The new Colorado Spirits Trail map directs drinkers to 51 distilleries around the state. Sponsored by the Colorado Distillers Guild, the map is available at the distilleries or downloadable online, and helps travelers plan trips. In a day, you could visit a dozen distilleries in the Denver area; make the trip a little longer and you can sip vodka in Aspen and rum in Crested Butte, taste whiskey in Breckenridge and gin in Buena Vista. (Just remember that Colorado strictly enforces drunk-driving laws, and that shuttles and tour guides are available to drive you.)
One of the newest distilleries, The Block Distilling Co., has seen visitation surge thanks to the map. Colorado law permits distillers to make, wholesale and sell retail from the same location, which makes it a lot easier for visitors to sample and purchase products.
"Everyone does their operation differently, so there's a lot to see," says Kraig Weaver, one of Block's co-founders. "It's cool because it adds to the tourism that's already available in the state. We don’t really view it as a competition. It's such a new industry, and if someone comes in and is making a good product, it helps all of us."
Get a sneak peek inside some of the state’s distilleries above, and see more from the Centennial State below.
Read more and view the slideshow (in Montanya on slides 27 & 28) here.