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P.O. Box 2301
Estes Park, Co 80517

The 2016 Windows to the West Art Show and Sale convenes more than 50 of the country's top contemporary Western heritage artists in one of the most beautiful mountain settings in America at the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.  The three-day sale and exhibition in Estes Park, Colorado, June 3-5, showcases more than 200 new pieces of art, with rich opportunities to meet the artists and discuss their unique depictions of Western landscapes, wildlife and traditional Western American life.  Windows to the West is a charitable benefit event sponsored by the Estes Park Western Heritage Foundation.

Art & Whiskey Gathering -- Blog

In this blog, I will try to lay the groundwork for the Art & Whiskey Gathering that we are holding at the 2016 Windows to the West art show and sale.  We will explore the fascinating traditions, distilling methods, varietal complexities, and culinary pairings that enrich the enjoyment of fine whiskeys.  I hope you will share your experiences and questions so that together we can savor the distiller's art while we browse the magnificent creative works by world-class artists in our 2016 Windows to the West  art sale and exhibition. Description of this blog

Whiskey at the Springs

Howell Wright

The Broadmoor at night

My wife and I recently headed south to Colorado Springs for a couple of days at the Broadmoor Hotel. If you have not stayed there I can recommend it very, very highly. The main building was formally opened by the visionary, Spenser Penrose, in 1918 and the property today is extensive and very luxurious.  They have more than a dozen restaurants and two dozen shopping stores on site.

Peter Anschutz is the owner and he is also a major collector of Western art, which is located in buildings all over the property. To be honest, most of the paintings you will see are representations of the originals that are located in Denver at the American Museum of Western Art-–The Anschutz Collection.

Howell and probation-era whiskeys

Penrose assured that during probation his guests had the very best whiskey of the time and several hundred whiskey bottles, covered in original dust of probation days, are on display in the main building.

My only reservation on The Broadmoor is that the Penrose Dining Room, a beautiful 5-star restaurant, is not cowboy friendly. They will not allow blue jeans! They did offer to lend me a pair of trousers--I declined. My wife told me to get over it. Did I say they are not cowboy friendly?

Our Whiskey Destination

In our effort to visit as many Colorado Whiskey distilleries as we can as part of our preparation for the Art and Whiskey Gathering in Estes Park, Colorado--June 4, 2016--we made arrangements to tour the 291 Distillery in Colorado Springs.

The 291 Distillery is just a mile or so from the Broadmoor Hotel. They have been in business for four years and say they are one of five Colorado craft distilleries that have a from-grain-to-barrel-to-bottle program. Anyone know who the other four distilleries are?  Actually, as of this writing, I believe there may be a few more than five but if you have an opinion let me know.

10-gallon barrels and 53-gallon barrel

To take a tour of the distillery cost us $20.00 a person, but $10.00 of that was recovered when we made a whiskey purchase.  Be sure and call for a tour.  On a Saturday afternoon we were the only two on the tour and the door was actually locked when we arrived at our appointed time.

The tour, however, was very good and it started with sampling in their small tasting room.  After a tipple of each offering, the tour began and we moved through the complete distillery process.  Every question was answered and we were allowed to take pictures. 

They have two whiskey mash bills (MB):

The first mash bill is 80% corn, 19% rye malt, and 1% malted barley. Here they have three expressions:

  • The first is 291 Colorado Bourbon Whiskey. Because it is Bourbon it is aged in deep charred, first use, American white oak barrels. It is then finished with charred Aspen staves and is bottled at 100 proof. My bottle says it is “Aged less than 2 years.” Being a bit of an “age” geek I wish they would advertise the whiskeys age like they do for their American whiskey but in the final take it has to do with how much you enjoy the whiskey and I did enjoy this tipple.
  • The “291 American Whiskey” is aged for 3-months. It is also quite tasty; however, for my personal taste it could use a bit more time in the barrel.
  • The third expression is the “291 Fresh Colorado Whiskey.” This is their un-aged white corn whiskey. This is one of the best “moonshine” whiskeys I have had.  The owner is marketing this as a possible replacement for vodka, rum or tequila in your favorite cocktail.

The second mash bill is 61% rye malt and 39% corn. Here they have two expressions: 

  • 291 Colorado Whiskey is a small batch barrel aged whiskey distilled in a pot still. This is the rye counterpart to their Colorado Bourbon. Both expressions are age labeled at “less than two years.” The Colorado Whiskey is bottled at 101.7 proof. I am a rye kind of guy and I found this to be one to take home.
  • Their rye “White Dog” whiskey, as the name implies, is un-aged.
  • It is noteworthy that the maturation of most of their barrel aged offerings is done in 10-gallon barrels where the aging process reportedly takes less time than when a 53 gallon or larger barrel is used.  This is one of several innovative ways many distillers are using to get product on the market without having to wait two to four years.

Final Product: 291 Distillery Tastings

General Comments

All the 291 expressions I tasted are very drinkable.  And the DECC citrus-clove liqueur is really very good.  Their price at $86.00 for the Bourbon and the Rye does, however, make me pause. So I'll be watching for a sale on those nice bottles.