On June 1, four Colorado distilleries came together for the first-ever Colorado Whiskey Collaboration Project. Each participating distillery will hand-craft a rye whiskey, without using any specialty malts, in their local facility and collectively fill a donated new North American white oak, toasted and charred, 53-gallon barrel from Independent Stave Company.
This distinguishes the Colorado project from the Mid-West and Upper South “Four Kings” series of collaboration whiskeys. The latter, a project of Chicago’s FEW Spirits, Iowa’s Mississippi River Distilling Company, Michigan’s Journeyman Distillery and Nashville’s Corsair Artisan Distillery, involved drawing on separately aged stock and blending it into a collaborative bottling,. This Colorado collaboration is starts off the still with barrel entry.
The barrel will be filled in equal parts from Bear Creek Distillery, State 38 Distilling, Woody Creek Distillers and Wood’s High Mountain Distillery with their 115-proof rye whiskey. The barrel will be stored at Woody Creek Distillers for at least two years, the time needed to officially make it a Straight Rye Whisky. The desired goal of the finished rye whiskey is light rye spice with toasted fig characteristics. Once the barrel has reached its maturation, the spirit will be brought to proof and bottled. The Colorado Whiskey Collaboration Project anticipates to yield roughly 300 bottles from their first batch, which will be donated to four local charities – one chosen by each distiller – to be auctioned off at their fundraising events. The plan is to collaborate and fill a new barrel each year.
“We wanted to do something fun together to raise money for local charities, while also spreading the awareness of the local Colorado craft-distilling community,” said Sean Smiley, owner of State 38 Distilling. “With such a strong interest in craft distilling and buying local products from the Colorado community, we’re excited to think that this incredibly unique whiskey will raise a substantial amount of money for charity.”