Colorado has no shortage of distilleries. At last count, there were almost a hundred of them. Some people have speculated that the high distillery count may be a reflection of the true Western style of the state. Others have insisted it is just that Colorado residents like their whiskey. The fresh spring waters of the Colorado mountains provide the base for distilleries. It’s become a wonderful past time and activity for Colorado residents.
According to the Denver Business Journal, distilleries are growing quickly. The article notes that Colorado now has the fifth-highest number of craft distilleries in America. This represents a significant tax increase in revenue for the state. Entrepreneurs looking into business opportunities have leaped into craft distilling in growing numbers within the past decade.
Many of the distilleries are an easy drive from the Grand Park/Winter Park area. It’s a wonderful area to visit if you’re in the popular Colorado mountain towns. Here are some of the best Colorado mountain distilleries in the Winter Park vicinity.
Established in 2015, Idlewild Distillery and Eatery specialize in cocktails and tapas. They call themselves a “mountain speakeasy.” The atmosphere is both inviting and interesting. Try their specially crafted ginger beer and tonic. The tasting room is open in the summer. Idlewild is committed to offering creative, flavorful cocktails and food. New spirits are being added continuously.
This distillery opened in 2018. The family-owned and family-operated business distill spirits. The full bar offers cocktails, mixers, and craft liquors as well as food. The restaurant is warm and inviting.
Located right in Winter Park, Moonshine Distiller opened in 2012. Their stainless steel equipment isn’t as fancy as the pricier copper stills but it is also more durable. This distillery aims to be your one-stop shopping destination for ingredients, distilling equipment, and instructions for making fine spirits. Browse their extensive selection of equipment. Check out their instructional video.
Located in Idaho Springs, Bouck Brothers Distillery is Clear Creek County’s first and only distillery since prohibition. Their spirits are locally made from grain to glass. They are known for award-winning Pink Bear Gin and Colorado Coffee Whiskey. Join them for handcrafted cocktails. Take a tour, or stop by the tasting room.
The Bouck Brothers noted that, while brewing beer was being improved whiskeys remained unchanged. They created sites to distill moonshine and bourbon. They tried such innovations as changing the casks and adding things like coffee beans and tobacco. They also experimented with how long bourbon should be left in a barrel. Another innovation was storing spirits in multiple casks.
Located in scenic Rollinsville, Gold Dirt Distillery was named by its founder, prospector John Q. A. Rollins. Rollins held many mining properties. However, few of them produced gold. The distillery is located in the midst of this gold mining area.
Gold Dirt Distillery is a family business. The former auto parts business owner focused his interest in learning how to ferment. A decade later, he built his own still. From there, he set out to craft spirits and sharing his libations with tourists and locals.
Gold Dirt’s distinctive products are produced in historical style. New interesting spirits are being used to make unusual as well as historically rooted cocktails.
Among the best Colorado mountain distilleries is this one located in Gypsum. At 10th Mountain, they handcraft spirits. This distillery and whiskey tasting facility produces gluten-free potato vodka, corn-based moonshine, rye whiskey, bourbon, as well as sage-infused and peach vanilla cordial.
The tasting room is located in the heart of the village of Vail. Sample their spirits neat, on the rocks, or try a few in a flight.
Besides bottled spirits, 10th Mountain serves a selection of delicious infusions and cask-aged cocktails. These change with the seasons. Order some to be shipped home.
Built-in 2016, Breckenridge Distillery, 9600 feet above sea level, boasts being the world’s highest distillery. The distillery is managed by Jordan Via who conducts a distilling course. Breckenridge Distillery was built at the base of Peak 8 in the town of Breckenridge. Always expanding, the distillery has a custom-built five-hundred-gallon Vendome copper still. It is housed in a four-thousand-square-foot distillery/tasting room/restaurant. Breckenridge Distillery offers free tours and original handcrafted cocktails. America cuisine is served in their open-air patio.
Elkins Distilling Company and tasting room are located in the eastern part of Estes Park overlooking Lake Estes. They bill themselves as the first and only legal spirits manufacturer in Estes Park. Their goal is to make excellent whiskey in the Rocky Mountains just as their ancestors have done for centuries.
Opened in 2016, Elkins Distilling Company is known for their signature cocktails made with high proof Colorado whiskey. All orders over $30 are shipped free. Visit the gift store and take home logo shirts, sweatshirts, hats, glasses, and Moscow Mule copper mugs.
Embodying the spirit of enterprising Western pioneers, Spirit Hound prides itself on using tried and true distilling techniques and natural local ingredients like Rocky Mountain juniper berries and Colorado malted barley. Their distillation equipment aims to capture purity and flavor in the manufacturing process.
Located in Lyons, Spirit Hound straight malt whiskeys are blended and bottled as single barrel batches. Each has an original taste. Sample their creative cocktails in their cool, rustic tasting facility while listening to local music.
Last among the best Colorado mountain distilleries is J & L Distilling. Named for co-owners Seth Johnson and Justin Lee, J&L Distilling treats distilling as both an art and a science. Located on Pearl Street in Boulder, J&L produces premium spirits guaranteed pure from grain to glass. To their owners, handcrafted means small-batch distilling from start to finish.
The two met at a Boulder homebrew club over ten years ago. Lee went on to complete his chemical engineering degree while Johnson worked as a physicist in Denver. In 2015, they founded the J&L Distilling Company.
Producing award-winning spirits with minimal impact on the environment, the two scientists turned distillers are set to release their product nationwide.