April 03, 2018 Slideshows » Food & Drink

Touring the Springs' first distiller, Distillery 291 

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After Distillery 291's Colorado Rye Whiskey was declared World's Best Rye in the 2018 World Whiskies Awards, we stopped by Distillery 291 and were given a tour by employees, including founder/distiller Michael Myers.
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Griffin Swartzell
Hard liquor starts with brewed spirits, and Distillery 291 brews 1000-gallon batches of the 10 percent ABV distiller's beer that they distill into whiskey. Distiller's beer ferments at high temperatures — 90 to 100 degrees fahrenheit — to get complex fruity flavors that will be present in the finished whiskey.
Griffin Swartzell
The distiller's beer is fed into a stripping still, which runs for six hours at a time and produces a 35 percent ABV "low wine."
Griffin Swartzell
A 1000-gallon batch of distiller's beer will produce 250 gallons of low wine.
Griffin Swartzell
The low wine is distilled again in a 300-gallon finish still, left, then finished in the thump keg, right, that founder/distiller Michael Myers brewed every batch of whiskey with. The resulting high wine is crystal clear and 75 percent ABV.
Griffin Swartzell
High wine is diluted to 126 proof — 63 percent ABV — and aged in oak barrels as appropriate. Bourbon must be aged in virgin American oak barrels, but the rye can be aged in already-used barrels.
Griffin Swartzell
During the aging process, the whiskey picks up flavors and colors from the oak.
Griffin Swartzell
After coming out of oak barrels, all of Distillery 291's whiskeys are finished on toasted aspen saves. They are, of course, tasted beforehand to ensure quality.
Griffin Swartzell
Distillery 291's whiskey is bottled by hand before being shipped out for distribution.
Griffin Swartzell
These barrels are special. They're going to be shipped to the United Kingdom, where the whiskey therein will be bottled and sold by That Boutique-y Whisky Company of Royal Tunbridge Wells, England.
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Griffin Swartzell
These barrels are special. They're going to be shipped to the United Kingdom, where the whiskey therein will be bottled and sold by That Boutique-y Whisky Company of Royal Tunbridge Wells, England.

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