Stranahan’s Distillery Visit

Stranhan's Distillery Exterior
Stranahan's Whiskey TruckConsumer demand never fails to crack me up.  We’ve sat on bottles for YEARS until a self-proclaimed expert anoints one and we suddenly can’t keep it in stock.  Stranahan’s was one of those stories.  Many years ago I used to stock Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.  We’d tried it, thought it was pretty good, we liked the packaging, so we gave it a whirl.  While it didn’t exactly gather dust, it didn’t set the world ablaze either.  Early into it’s life on our shelves, I got word that Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey was being pulled from the Minnesota market because they just couldn’t produce enough juice.  After that, demand exploded.  People were calling daily looking for the stuff.  There was a frenzy to find this whiskey they absolutely, positively NEEDED to have.

I was certain that after the Proximo purchase in 2010, a relaunch was inevitable after they had a chance to age some product for a few years.  Alas, that was not the case.  They kept us waiting until early 2015.  Expecting to fill the pent up demand, I bought as much as I could to serve the hordes that were sure to bust down our doors.  Rather than a thirsty mob, there seemed to be a universal “meh” uttered as we stacked the stuff on the floor.  People are funny.

 

Stranahan's DistilleryThe Backstory
As the story goes, a volunteer firefighter and modern day bootlegger named Jess Graber answered a call to put out a barn fire on George Stranahan’s property.  A discussion ensued and a business emerged with a recipe for something a bit out of the ordinary- an American Whiskey made exclusively with malted barley and the first Colorado distillery to be opened since Prohibition.  George’s Flying Dog Brewery would be a key part of the operation initially, providing Stranahan’s with their wash.  I never had the opportunity to visit the old joint that was located directly next to Flying Dog Brewery, but this place has a bit of polish to it.  A working distillery sure, but daddy’s investment really makes this place sparkle.

 

 

Stranahan's Fermenters


Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is made from locally sourced, malted barley toasted to four different levels for flavor.  While they state no age on the whiskey, it is a small batch marriage of 2-5 year old barrels cut with locally sourced, Eldorado spring water.  It’s a solid whiskey that lacks the nuance of a single malt scotch and the boldness of a bourbon.  I don’t say that in a negative way- it sits nicely between the two.  Despite it’s higher proof, it’s quite smooth and wonderfully viscous.

 

 

 

 

Stranahan's Stills

Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Whiskey
Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Whiskey is simply a bottling containing the same Colorado whiskey as their flagship, only none of the barrels are less that four years old and they are selected from amongst the best in the warehouse.  You get the smooth, 94 proof Colorado Whiskey, but with all the edges taken off.  Definitely worth the extra money.

 

 

 

 

Stranahan's StillsStranahan’s Snowflake
Stranahan’s Snowflake is a pretty cool program- a distillery only release that happens twice a year with a VERY limited run.  Each release is named after a different 14,000 foot mountain and consists of Stranahan’s whiskey finished in different wine barrels.  The exact finishes varies with each release.  I was lucky enough to try a bit of the 2015 release- Mt. Bierstadt which was finished in 40 year old Olorosso sherry barrels, Cognac barrels, and a cherry wine barrel.  The sherry-bomb lover in me was immediately smitten.  Not over the top, but just the right amount of sherry.  I’m not shy about professing my love for Brenne, the french single malt finished in cognac casks, and you can definitely pick up on the sweetness that the cognac barrels lend to the whiskey.  As stated before, we always want what we can’t have, and with only 1,200 bottles of Snowflake produced this year, you probably can’t get it.

 

Stranahan's Whiskey BarrelsThe Gas Tap
Several years ago, Jess was at a gas filling station, still stewing over the spilled whiskey at the distillery when he heard the “click” of the gas handle.  He contacted Husky, who fabricated a stainless steel version of the gas tap so the barrel wranglers in the distillery wouldn’t spill his special newmake.  Plus, it looks badass.

If you’re in the Denver area, the distillery is definitely worth a peek.  They are relatively central in the city and have an awesome cocktail room to hang out in.  Plus, if you wander across the street, a newly opened horticultural center will show you what they mean by “Rocky Mountain High”.

Good stuff.

 

Visit Stranahan’s Distillery online or shop their products at Ace Spirits!

 

 

 

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