By Hudson Lindenberger
While people who visit Boulder seem to focus on the booming craft beer scene or the pervasive pot stores, there is another industry designed to put a smile on your face that is growing quickly. In just the last decade, Boulder County has gone from just one distillery to double digits with new ones seeming to come online yearly.
Populated with ex-brewers, chemists and other mad scientist-types, the distilleries offer aged whiskeys, flavorful gins and smooth vodkas, plus a whole host of other interesting bottles of booze. Maybe the best way to enjoy their creations is on site in their tasting rooms, where staff can pour you a shot or whip up a tasty cocktail.
Here are five distilleries that we love to head to when we want to kick back.
Deviant Spirits, 2480 49th St., Unit E, Boulder
Known for its flavorful rice vodkas, Deviant is located behind the Boulder Bump Shop in an industrial park off Pearl Parkway. It has a fun and funky feel to it the moment you enter the doors. There is a comfy bar, behind which is a massive array of flavored vodkas (mint, basil, strawberry, cucumber, tomato, sage and lime, plus a few seasonals) along with gin and whiskey.
The mixed drink menu changes often, so regardless of the time of year, there should be a drink to suit your tastes. This summer Deviant Spirits is planning on offering a wide selection of Old Fashioneds to sip in the sun.
What really makes this spot special is the large outdoor seating area where you can soak up the sun while staring at the Flatirons in the distance while playing some tabletop Jenga.
Vapor Distilling, 5311 Western Avenue, Unit 180, Boulder
Vapor is the brainchild of a Scotsman (Alastair Brogan) and an ex-brewer (Ted Palmer) who decided to turn their love of fine spirits into a business. Their whiskeys, gins, vodkas and liqueurs have since won numerous awards at competitions across the globe.
Their tasting room is designed to feel like a giant speakeasy with a tin ceiling, massive red leather booths and a long bar that you can sit on either side of while sipping one of their cocktails. The Boulder Ginskey is something special. They have aged their normal gin for two years in charred American Oak whiskey barrels to impart a smoky, almost bourbon flavor. Vapor offers tours Tuesday through Thursday at 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 3 and 5 p.m., but if you ask nicely when visiting they very well might take you into their back room to see their massive copper still where they work their magic.
Spirit Hound Distiller, 4196 Ute Highway, Lyons
Located on the road leading into Lyons, Spirit Hound turns out products made with Colorado-only ingredients. While its whiskey, gin and rum are pretty darn good, what really sets Spirit Hound apart is its sublimely smooth White Dog Moonshine. It’s a pretty special sipper that takes fresh, unaged whiskey and cuts it down with Rocky Mountain water. There’s a little kick at 90 proof but lots of flavor.
The walls of the spacious tasting room are adorned with local art and the whole place exudes a comfy western vibe that makes you feel welcome from the moment you walk through the front doors. It’s the largest tasting room in Boulder and even has a roomy deck out front, too. Plus, food trucks park here most weekends.
Longtucky Spirits, 350 Terry St., Suite 120, Longmont
As one of the newer distillers on the market (it opened in 2017), the folks at Longtucky are quickly making a name for themselves with their full-flavored whiskeys. Made onsite in their alembic stills, they are nuanced and quite memorable, especially their The Last Waltz Colorado Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Located inside the renovated, former Longmont Times-Call building, the tasting room is a comfy spot with numerous high-top tables and a wooden bar. Wednesday through Sunday nights, the distillery has a rotating schedule of events, anything from karaoke to open mic nights to live music. Enjoy the events with one of the numerous homemade cocktails. Located right in the heart of town, it is also near several breweries (300 Suns, Wibby, Bootstrap and Pumphouse) so you can turn a visit into an impromptu bar crawl if so desired.
On Point Distillery, 802 S. Public Road, Suite E, Lafayette
Not even a year old, On Point is a fun, little spot in east Boulder County that’s a family-owned business. It exudes warmth the moment you walk up. There is a large patio outside usually with kids running about and dogs lazing in the sun. Once you walk through the doors, you will find an easygoing tasting room with someone behind the bar likely offering you a smile.
With several flavored vodkas, plus a spiced rum, lavender gin and bourbon pouring, the selection is impressive, considering On Point is still trying to build up a backlog of booze. Dive into the cocktail list, which usually has several superb offerings. Try the Rosey Cucumber made with lavender gin, cucumber, rosemary, lime juice and agave nectar. It will cool you right off. If you are hungry, there are food trucks outside most nights.