e did the Stranahan’s Whiskey distillery tour last night and I may have had a dram too many. I guess I’ll just talk about whiskey and maybe it will have a hair of the dog effect.
Whiskey has a gritty romance to it. When I drink whiskey I imagine sitting in a dark saloon, running with bootleggers in the mountains or dancing the night away in a speakeasy. Whiskey is often extolled in folk songs and literature. It warms the soul.
The etymology of the word Whiskey is interesting. It is derived from the Gaelic word uisce which means water and through further translations means water of life.
One of my favorite bands, Murder by Death, is a good example of how incorporating the theme of whiskey into art can create a spirited and beautiful feeling. When people ask me what MBD is like I always say something along the lines of – imagine the soundtrack if you were drinking whiskey and dancing with the devil.
I don’t know if I like Murder by Death so much because I like whiskey so much or vice versa but there’s no denying that it’s a perfect pairing. There’s nothing better than seeing them live and having a shot of whiskey while this song plays.
Side note – I just saw that Murder by Death is opening a pizza shop called Pizza LUPO in Louisville which also happens to be where you can visit the KY Bourbon Trail. Road trip!
You won’t find me doing shots of whiskey very often because as my palate has matured I prefer it on the rocks with a splash of water so that I can sip. Stranahan’s is one of my favorites.
Stranahan’s is a small batch single malt whiskey that was born in the Rocky Mountains and now hand crafted here in Denver. The distillery sits right off of I-25. When you see the Stranahan’s sign in their trademark yellow on the side of the building and the barley silos in front of the building, it’s hard to drive by without getting a little excited.
I highly recommend touring the distillery if you find yourself in Denver. They’ve put together a really fun experience that’s a must for all whiskey lovers. The tour takes about an hour and you’ll want to leave time to stop in the Lounge where you can try a variety of cocktails and drams while looking out over the distillers.
You get to see the whole distilling, fermenting and bottling process. Stranahan’s is no longer Colorado owned but has done a good job of maintaining the local vibe and spirit.
The Stranahan’s Original is smooth and easy to drink. It’s become one of my go-to whiskeys. It is made with 100% Rocky Mountain water and barley and is aged for 2-5 years in oak charred barrels. You will see these hand numbered barrels all around the distillery.
They’ve updated the tour since last time I was there and now you get two tastings along the way. At the first tasting you get Stranahan’s Original. The tour guide takes you through a process of tasting. First, you cleanse your pallet, then “chew” the whiskey, then sip and lastly add a few drops of water.
Adding water actually releases new flavors in the whiskey. I did not know this until last night! I know I like water in my whiskey and now I know why.
The tour guide asks everyone what they taste – oak, vanilla, honey, cigars. The initial mouth sensation is spicy and it feels so good. This review likens it to accidentally biting into a peppercorn.
At the end you get to taste the Stranahan’s Diamond Peak, which is their “black label” whiskey. The Diamond Peak has notes more akin to an Irish Whiskey. Depending on what you like it is a good whiskey but I prefer the Original.
In the Lounge after the tour we got to try the illusive Stranahan’s Snowflake, a limited batch, distillers choice which is different every year. The Snowflake is released once a year and people camp out at the distillery waiting for it the day it goes on sale. The one we tried last night was from 2012 and was a mix of batches brewed in Spanish Sherry and French Cognac barrels and 3 and 4 year Stranahan’s. It was delightful.
Anyway, I’m not going to give away every little detail – go do the tour! The tour guides are lively and fun and obviously love their jobs. How could you NOT love your job if you work at a whiskey distillery!?
They also like to share the love. Stranahan’s Whiskey is bottled by volunteers at the distillery. You can sign up online along with 20,000 other people, they said) to be entered in the lottery to be called for a 4 hour shift on the bottling crew. They give you pizza, beer and a bottle of Stranahan’s for your hard work. Sign me up!