Bringing home Gold
In order to expand production, Colorado Gold Distillery (4242 N. Nevada Ave., coloradogolddistillers.com) has moved from Cedaredge on the Western Slope to the Springs. The 9-year-old distillery completed its move in August.
"We wanted to be in more of a metropolitan area," says head distiller and director of production Mike Almy, citing transportation costs and access to customers. Indeed, this move should actually make their products more affordable, as it's the distributor, rather than the distiller, who usually pays to move the booze. Almy hopes to see those savings show up at bars and on liquor store shelves.
Almy has been with the distillery since 2011. The CSU Fort Collins graduate holds a degree in economics and supply chain management, but he's also a brewer. After an attempt at starting a craft brewery, which fell through due to investors backing out the day before he was due to sign the lease, Almy joined up with Colorado Gold. Then-owner Tom Cooper was looking at retiring, so he trained Almy up to take the position he holds today, under current owner Peter Caciola of Austin, Texas.
Though Colorado Gold has produced as many as nine products, they've dialed back to just three in recent years: a bourbon, a rye whiskey and a hemp-based vodka, all medal-winners at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The bourbon, which has won one silver and two gold SFWSC medals, is made from a mix of corn, wheat, rye and malted barley, and sees a little over three years in an American white oak barrel before hitting bottle. Almy says that the spice and kick from the rye balances the mellowing wheat's sweet notes on the finish.
For the rye, Almy says it's distilled from 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley, made to be extra smooth. It ages for two years in American white oak. "We wanted to make something somebody could just sit on the porch and have straight-up," he says. With its cinnamon notes and mellow taste overall, the rye has two consecutive SFWSC silvers.
As for the hemp vodka, dubbed Colorado High, it doesn't taste much different from most other vodkas. "In the end, vodka's distilled to 95 percent," he says, "so there's not a lot in there that's not alcohol." He notes that anyone who can tell the difference between a potato vodka and a grain vodka will be able to taste what's different, acknowledging that he picks up subtle hazelnut notes.
While the Springs distillery is operational, it's not open for tours yet, something that is for-sure on his docket. He's still applying for licensure for a sales and tasting room, and he's debating opening a full tasting room/bar downtown sometime in the future. Until then, look for this booze at local liquor stores and bars.