Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey

Recent Stranahan's News

Join us for a VIP Public Tour, offered monthly! This behind-the-scenes tour will give you access to special tastings such as un-aged whiskey, a two year-old barrel sample and our special edition whiskey, Snowflake. $50 per person, includes the tour, a gift bag and a $10 refund towards the onsite purchase of a 750ML bottle. Still a few spots left for the 9/26 tour - for more information or to book online visit http://www.stranahans.com/tours/vip/

STRANAHAN'S DISTILLATIONS

STILL SPEAK      

Check your  cellar – do you have a Gold? Five batches of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey were awarded the highly coveted Liquid Gold status in Jim Murray’s 2014 Whisky Bible.  Another five batches came close. 
     
Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible is the world’s leading whisky guide and is an ongoing project, with the first of the series having been published 10 years ago. In the 2014 edition, more than 4,500 whiskies were tasted and graded out of an overall score of 100. Whiskies that score 94 points or higher are bestowed the Liquid Gold honor. Here’s how we stacked up:
     
    Liquid Golds:
    Batch 67 – 96 points
    Batch 90 – 96 points
    Snowflake Cab Franc – 95.5 points
    Batch 83 – 95 points
    Batch 94 – 94 points
     
    Other notables:
    Batch 100 – 93 points
    Batch 102 – 92 points
    Batch 109 – 92 points
    Batch 110 – 91.5 points
    Batch 105 – 90 points
     
Congratulations to Head Distiller Rob Dietrich and his crew for yet another handful of awards! 

SHOP TALK

Winter whiskey sipping season is not over yet - be sure you’re well-stocked! Stranahan’s now offers a 15% case discount. Purchase at     least six bottles and receive 15% off each bottle. This applies to 750 ML     bottles only, and only from our General Store.
    
Stranahan’s now offers bottle engraving! Pre-order your personalized bottle and pick it up at the General Store. Email info@stranahans.com     for more information.

TOURS GALORE      

Wednesday tours are back! We are now running behind-the-scenes complimentary tours of our distillery six days each week! Just added back to the lineup are Wednesdays at 11 a.m., 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Click here  or see below for complete tour schedule.

General Store Information

The General Store is open seven days each week from noon to 5 p.m. During tour times, the store availability may be limited so please feel free to contact us (info@stranahans.com) in advance to confirm that we have someone available to take care of you upon your arrival!

Tour Information

 Complimentary tours are offered Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and reservations are highly recommended – especially on weekends. Top Shelf Experience monthly   public tours are offered the fourth Friday of each month at 6 p.m., and     cost is $50 per person. Tour spots are limited and booked on a first-come, first-served basis. Top Shelf Experience tours are sold out through May. Book now for the June 27 tour!  Private VIP Tours for     larger groups also are available. Email us at info@stranahans.com for more information.

Upcoming Events

March 13 – DSTILL Showcase – the highlight of a weeklong experience of American small batch distilling, this tasting event provides the opportunity for consumers to sample artisan spirits and craft cocktails. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
     
March 15 – Denver’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.     Watch for the Stranahan’s crew!
    
March 15 – Colorado Distillery Tasting in Telluride. Click here for more     information.

What do artisan whiskey, craft beer and boutique wine have in common? They’re all great for sipping… and sometimes they meld together in unexpected ways!

Last year we officially teamed up with neighbor Breckenridge Brewery to launch Stranahan’s Well Built™ E.S.B., an Extra Special Bitter beer brewed at Breckenridge Brewery, then aged for six months in Stranahan’s whiskey barrels. The small batch beer is brewed with four varieties of hops that balance its traditional English ale maltiness. Most interesting – and we think delicious – is the Stranahan’s whiskey characteristics that the barrel-aging process lends – hints of vanilla and oak with a nutty finish. Well Built is only available for a limited period, a few times each year. We’re in one of those time periods right now, so head on out to your favorite liquor store and pick up a few bottles.

Beer aging in whiskey barrels is one thing. Whiskey aging in wine barrels is quite another! Anyone familiar with Snowflake knows how unique this collaborative result can be. A few times each year head distiller Rob Dietrich delicately fills a freshly emptied wine barrel from Denver boutique wineries such as Balistreri Vineyards and Spero Winery – be it a Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet or other variety – with our finished whiskey that has been aged to perfection in new American white oak barrels with alligator char. Then he lets it age some more. The diverse result can be bold and fruity, spicy, creamy, rich… and always delicious.

When artisans get together and think outside the box – or bottle, in this case – one never knows the good that will come of it!

Have you been searching for a perfect Father’s Day gift? Look no further! Stop into the distillery or shop online and let us take care of all your needs. We might just be able to wet your whistle with a taste of Stranahan’s while you shop. 

Stranahan’s limited release Snowflake Mount Silverheels Merlot goes on sale this Saturday, June 8, only at the distillery at 200 South Kalamath Street at 8 a.m. 

There are a few changes to our procedure, so even if you’ve successfully purchased Snowflake in the past, please read on…

  • Only 500 bottles make up this limited release, so if you’re lucky enough to obtain one, consider yourself almost as unique as the Snowflake itself.
  • Snowflake Mount Silverheels Merlot is $99 plus tax per bottle (limit 2) and each bottle is accompanied by tasting notes from Head Distiller Rob Dietrich.
  • It is only available for purchase at the distillery while supplies last, on a first-come, first-served basis.  It is not available for pre-order.
  • Shoppers must be at least 21 years old with valid IDs.
  • Typically, eager shoppers begin lining up the evening before the sale. No holding spaces or line cutting is permitted.
  • Beginning at 6 a.m., tickets will be given out to all of those in line. Each ticket represents the bottle you may purchase. One ticket equals one bottle. Two tickets equal two bottles. No ticket equals no bottle! 
  • Plan accordingly for crowded parking. The Alameda light rail station is just four blocks away. Parking is available on the west and south sides of the distillery, but please be cognizant of NO PARKING zones – you could be ticketed.

Snowflake Mount Silverheels Merlot is named after one of our famed Colorado mountain peaks and the wine cask it was finished in. This unique pairing is a Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey original, aged for two to five years in our traditional American white oak barrels with a #3 char, then cask-finished in used American oak wine barrels from the Balistreri Winery located right here in Denver. This unique coupling, along with the right conditions in our barrel house, produced a whiskey like no other, with bold, fruity notes and a creamy, cinnamon spiciness that leaves the mouth tingling.

The wine formerly resting in the casks was Little Feet Merlot, a rich and delightfully fruity wine aged for 12 months and vat-crushed during the summer of 2010 by the small, stomping feet of children – attended by their parents – as they enjoyed live music at the Balistreri Annual Harvest Party & Annual Children’s Grape Stomping.

On the Nose: Summer heat, cherries, plum, wet-cut wood, forest pine.

On the Palate: Rich plum, black currant, light caramel cream, shaved cinnamon bark, cherry jam, fresh hay, cedar-shavings, with a slight earth/peat taste and a peppery leather and spice finish.

This beauty has been cask-finishing for a year and a half in the Little Feet Merlot wine barrels, and as an added bonus, the Stranahan’s whiskey used for this particular batch is our milestone Batch 75. In order to keep each Snowflake unique, we keep it interesting by mixing up the process a little each time. Sometimes we use a single Stranahan’s barrel, other times it might be one or two barrels of definitively separate years. This time, it was Batch 75.

Thursday evening we celebrated big! With the help of dozens of staff and supporters, we filled our 5,000th barrel of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, chalking up yet another milestone for the year.

As we filled the 5,000th barrel and pounded in the bung (see Head Distiller Rob Dietrich in action, above!), we all imagined what the celebration will be like in several years, once the whiskey has aged and we uncork it.

We also celebrated our recent acquisition of the adjacent property next to our Kalamath distillery. We have begun transforming the existing structure into a new climate controlled rack house that will soon store barrels of our aging whiskey. After just four years at our Kalamath location, we’ve outgrown it. Everyone who has taken a tour knows that we have barrels aging in every square foot we can allot to them in our existing building. Once we’re able to move into the new building, it will allow us some breathing room.

In January we hand bottled our 100th batch of whiskey.  Five months later, we’ve just filled Barrel 5,000. We thank all our fans for our continued explosive growth! Without Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey aficionados, we would have little to celebrate.

Stranahan’s crafts its whiskey from an all-malt wash. Our wash begins as dark as a porter, then through the complex process of double distillation, all of the color is removed. The spirit prior to entering the barrel is clear.

All whiskey starts out white and takes on color as it lays in the barrel. Very old whiskey can be the color of molasses, while younger, lighter whiskeys can be copper or even golden. The type of barrel also matters. For example, if a Scotch whisky is being aged in a bourbon barrel that has been used several times over, it is not going to pick up much color from the barrel. However, if that same whiskey is put in a cask that contained sherry or port wine, it will pick up some of the colors of the wine, in addition to those of the oak barrel.

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is aged in New American White Oak barrels with the darkest, number 3 char for two to five years. The aged whiskey has been described as tawny, with notes of polished leather. Our Snowflake editions, which are further aged in wine or port barrels, can push the color profile to a ruby or garnet.

What spectrum of colors do you see? Pour your whiskey in a clear, clean glass and hold the glass against a white piece of paper. Tilt the glass, and watch the light break upon the different depths of whiskey. Compare the color you see with a whiskey color wheel or chart, such as the one pictured above. Now you can properly describe the beauty of your whiskey!

Do you have what it takes to work a shift on Stranahan’s bottling line? If so, click here and throw your name in the bag!

Still Speak: The Craft of Barrel Aging
By Rob Dietrich, Head Distiller

What makes a great whiskey? Is it a bit of malted grain or corn, a strain of tamed or wild yeast, and a splash of the purest water? Absolutely, but just these ingredients are not enough. 

Great whiskey also needs time – time in the finest casks available. It takes a lot of care and preparation to produce the finest whiskies in the world and it all ends in finding the right barrels to rest your hard-won spirit in.

It begins with grain. In order to make whiskey, you’ve got to start out with the intentions of making the best whiskey. That means the finest grains, the healthiest yeast, the best stills and the perfect casks.

 Let’s say you want to make an American straight whiskey. A unique set of rules applies, and with a little bit of skill and a lot of imagination you can produce a top-quality whiskey. If you were working right alongside us here at Stranahan’s, you would start with 100% malt-barley – the majority of which is malted locally – and the purest water. You would use our proprietary yeast for fermentation and Vendome stills for distillation. Now it’s time to barrel!

You would use 100%, brand new, White American Oak casks with a #3 char in which to age the spirit. The staves are dried and cured for three months before being trimmed to fit an individual barrel, then charred with a great deal of flame before adding the butts of the barrel. By charring the wood, the natural sugars, vanillin and tannins rise to the burn surface, where the spirit can readily interact with those flavors and absorb them. 100% of the color comes from the wood and almost 50 to 60% of the flavor of whiskey comes from the wood itself!

So why do we use new barrels and namely, white oak? In order to be designated a “straight” whiskey, the spirit must be aged in brand new, white American oak casks only once, and aged no less than two years. I relate barrel-aging to using a teabag. You will get a strong cup of tea on the first use of the teabag, but on the second or even third uses, you will get a very watered down, less flavorful tea, or at the very least, it will take a lot longer to extract the desired flavor. The same can be said for barrels. That’s why you see 8- or 10- or 12-year Scotches. It takes longer for those flavors to be extracted once that barrel has already been used.

It takes a lot of effort to properly produce and age a whiskey – you have to have a lot of patience and foresight.

As I frequently tell guests who tour our facility, I am constantly living in the past, present and future. What we produced in the past affects the present. What we produce now affects the future. What we harvest today affects everything…

Cheers, and happy drinking!
Rob Dietrich, Head Distiller
Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

Anyone familiar with the art of distilling knows the point of the process is to separate the ethanol (desirable alcohol) from other undesired components. Undesirable substances such as methanol are more volatile than ethanol, so they vaporize first. These are called the heads. Once the heads are distilled out, we have the heart of the run, which makes its way into our barrels. Finally, as we continue to distill, we get more undesirable lower volatility substances, oils and water, known collectively as the tails. The art of distilling is to know when to draw the lines between the head, the heart and the tail. The more selective a distiller is, the higher quality whiskey.

At Stranahan’s we take the process one step further, double-distilling – putting the whiskey through the process of elimination one more time. By double distilling, we produce far fewer fusil oils and other impurities than most other distillers. These distillations are performed at such a slow rate that we are able to control precisely the alcohols we want in our barrels.

Heads and tails are 140 proof – that’s strong stuff. What do we do with this high-octane liquid? Our head distiller Rob Dietrich actually uses it as a cleaning product around the distillery! And to think that some distilleries redistill their heads and tails. To us, that just seems wrong!

Periodically, we like to acquaint our fans with members of the Stranahan’s family. This week, we’d like you to meet Kristin Forsch.

Anyone who has taken a tour at the distillery may already know Kristin. She is the Stranahan’s Brand Ambassador – the storyteller of our whiskey. Kristin oversees our very successful tour program, oftentimes leading tours and tastings herself. She is also in charge of our retail offerings – hats, T-shirts, posters, glassware – you name it. When Stranahan’s participates in events (such as Man of the Cliff in October or the St. Patrick’s Day parade in March), you can bet Kristin is onsite sharing her knowledge of and passion for whiskey.

Originally from St. Louis, Kristin has been a Colorado resident for 6 years and an integral part of the Stranahan’s staff for 3 ½ years. Her favorite aspects of her job are helping people fall in love with our whiskey as much as she has and talking with guests when they visit the distillery.

An art major, Kristin enjoys graphite drawing – and some of her drawings grace liquor bottles throughout the world. She also likes cliff jumping into the river in Golden during the summertime and snuggling by the fire with a glass of whiskey in the wintertime. Kristin acknowledges that she enjoys her Stranahan’s in a variety of ways:

  • After a long day: neat.
  • Before bed: with a splash of water.
  • If it’s warm out: with two tiny cubes of ice.
  • If she has a cold: in a hot toddy.

Cheers to Kristin’s contagious spirit!

Back in the days of the Old West it seemed everyone had their own tin cup. Whether it was dangling from their saddle bag or hanging by the water pail, it was a must-have item. Tin cups were so popular that even Lorne Greene (think Ben Cartwright from Bonanza) wrote a song about his “Ol’ Tin Cup.”

With warm weather around the corner, what better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with a pour of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey in your own rustic tin cup? Perfect for campfires or backyard barbecues, our Stranahan’s-branded drinking cups are fashioned in the pioneer spirit and are an ideal vessel to hold Colorado’s legendary whiskey.

You can shop for your own supply of tin cups online by clicking here, or stop by our General Store onsite at the distillery at 200 South Kalamath Street in Denver. The General Store is stocked with plenty of Stranahan’s-branded goods, tin cups and the latest batch of our famous whiskey! Even if you don’t need any new drinkware, we hope to see you at the distillery soon!

Stranahan’s will always hold the honor of being Colorado’s first post-prohibition whiskey. Prior to 2003, there were no distilleries in the state. The tale of how Stranahan’s became the first reads just like a storybook. If you haven’t heard it before, grab yourself a pour, sit back and read on…

Stranahan’s founder Jess Graber was a volunteer fireman in a small community near the mountain town of Aspen, Colorado called Woody Creek. One day in 1998 he responded to a barn fire down the road. Despite Jess’s efforts the barn was lost to the flames. Once the fire settled, Jess and the barn’s owner shared some conversation and discovered they had a common passion: whiskey.

The owner was George Stranahan, philanthropist, rancher, microbrewery owner and most importantly, whiskey aficionado. As they talked, George learned that Jess had an idea for a new kind of Colorado whiskey. Soon, a relationship was forged.

Jess was the first to begin distilling in the state of Colorado – legally, anyway – in early 2004 in a warehouse in downtown Denver, initially utilizing a mash brewed in George’s microbrewery. Stranahan’s first put spirit into the barrels in April 2004, then harvested and bottled the first batch in April 2006.

The rest, as they say, is history.

With Valentine’s Day just one week away, all our thoughts are turned to love. And what could be more lovely than spending Valentine’s Day afternoon with your loved one, surrounded by something that you love to drink?

To help our fans celebrate Valentine’s Day in style, we’ve launched a quick contest. We’re holding 8 spots on our afternoon bottling line next Thursday, February 14 – Valentine’s Day – for four lucky couples. Simply post a photo depicting your LOVE of Stranahan’s or showing you and your loved one enjoying Stranahan’s responsibly, and you’ll be entered into our heartfelt contest.

Photos must be posted on our Facebook page by this Friday, February 8, at 4 p.m., and we’ll announce the winners one hour later, at 5 p.m.

Important information: You and your date must be 21 years or older to be a part of our crew, and you both must be available to bottle on the afternoon of Thursday, February 14. For more information on what it takes to be a member of the Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey volunteer bottling crew, click here.

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