The world of whiskey is changing and changing dramatically every day. This is true with the big distilleries like Beam Suntory, with offerings from the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Scotland, and Japan. It is also true with the smaller craft distilleries popping up all over the U.S.
My interest is primarily in the craft distilleries in my home state of Colorado. Colorado has long been known for its truly outstanding craft beers. Now the state is becoming known for its fine whiskeys. Already brands like Stranahan’s and Breckenridge are being noticed nationally and others are chasing them to the top.
I would like to start a discussion in this blog primarily about Colorado whiskey. I would like to explore the fascinating history of whiskey in Colorado, current distilling methods, varietal complexities, and culinary pairings that enrich the enjoyment of fine whiskeys. To facilitate this, over the next several months I will be visiting Colorado distilleries and reporting on what I see and taste.
To make this a discussion, however, I need your input: Ask any and as many questions as you can. If I do not know the answer (which may frequently be the case), I will take the time and effort to find someone who does know the answer. Also, if you are a Colorado whiskey producer, or a white spirit producer moving toward producing a brown variety, please send me information and I will plan a visit.
While committed primarily to reporting about Colorado whiskeys, I'll also try to keep readers up to date about significant happenings--and interesting tidbits--in the broader whiskey world. Reader input is also encouraged.
If you have done much reading about whiskey you no doubt have the concept of Nose, Palate, and Finish. In our discussions, these terms will come up frequently and frequently they can be intimidating and discouraging. Just remember that pro noses have been trained for years to discern the difference between dry cork and copper. Royal jelly and pulled pork may be an easier sniff for most of us but when someone says that “the scent of floor polish comes out of the glass first” and then they drink the whiskey, just walk away!
Right off the bat I want to let you know that I am just an old cowboy who has had the pleasure of enjoying good whiskey for a lot of years. I am not a David Broom, Dominic Roskrow, David Wishart or Michael Jackson (may he RIP). I unfortunately do not have the palate or olfactory senses of these gentlemen, and if I talk of “Tasting Notes” you can guess, except in a few exceptions, that I got them from the distillery. Also, if I do mention something like “the flavor profile contains notes of smoke and there is an oily finish,” run the other way! You may want to remember that I am also an old U.S. Marine and my context for smoke and oil is different than that of most folks.
Bottom line is that you need to go back into your past and remember the smells and flavors that bring a smile to your face. Hone those memories and think about them as you sample new whiskeys. Develop your own list of descriptive terms and when you use these terms in relation to the whiskey in your glass, let the smile come forward.
A quick word about “finish” is appropriate. When you hold a whiskey in your mouth and let it roll around over your tongue and slowly fade down your throat, the sensation you get is the finish. If you cough, shiver or recoil, the finish may not be to your liken'. But some folks like their whiskey to burn all the way down and peal their toenails back. That’s one of the really great things about whiskey--there is something for everyone.
I look forward to visiting with you over the coming months. Let's compare notes. In the meantime, ENJOY YOUR WHISKEY AND PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY!
“Keep the Wind to your back and a smile on your face.”