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Issue 121 - Rocky Mountain High

Whisky Magazine Issue 121
July 2014

 

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Rocky Mountain High

Liza takes a tour round Stranahan's distillery

About halfway through a tour of the Stranahan's distillery in Denver, Colorado, our exuberant guide pointed out a barrel with a clear crimson-tinted head, like something that rolled out of a backwoods disco. It's filled a quarter of the way with new-make whiskey and it's designed to illustrate evaporation. Sitting atop an upright barrel beside it, there are two stainless steel food-grade gas nozzles.

“That's a fun story,” our guide of the apparatuses, and she proceeds to tell us about how the staff once used them to fill barrels. Back in the day, she said, someone even modified a motorcycle to run on the spirit's heads. Today, she says, they use the heads for a different purpose.

“We put it in squirt bottles. It's what we use to clean,” she says with a hearty laugh.

While that plucky spirit, a prerequisite for entrepreneurs, certainly isn't necessary any longer, it helps maintain a fun factor around the house. Proximo, the company that owns Cuervo and produces and imports 1800 Tequila, Three Olives Vodka and other brands, bought Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey in December 2010. Since then, things have gotten a tad less free-wheeling—more number-crunching, more levels of public relations to penetrate for access. But no matter. production of Rocky Mountain whiskey is in full force.

Relative to the rest of the craft distilling industry, Stranahan's history is long and rich. Founded in 2004, it's known as Colorado's first legal distillery since Prohibition. It...

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