Two Ski Towns, Two Whiskeys
All bourbons are whiskeys but not all whiskeys are bourbons as I recently found out while out tasting some of the American West’s best libations. And by best, I mean gold winning. Who knew that visitors to world-class ski areas in both Colorado and Utah can also experience award winning whiskey combined with great food pairings, distillery tours, and ski-in/ski-out access? Here is the essence of the ski town spirits.
Breckenridge Distillery: “We used to mine gold in Breckenridge, now we just win it.”
Distilling liquor at 9,600 feet has its challenges, but Breckenridge Distillery has perfected the art of bourbon making in the dry climate of the Colorado Rockies and is the highest distillery in North America. Bourbons require 51% of their mash to be sweet corn and Breck Distillery utilizes the unique spiciness of rye for another 38% of the mash blend making for a lighter, smoother bourbon. Bourbons also require aging in brand new charred barrels giving the liquor its distinct color and taste. The Breckenridge Distillery proofs its liquor with the mineral-rich snow melt of the high Rocky Mountains giving it a long lasting deep flavor.
When to visit: Breckenridge opens for the ski season November 8th and the Breckenridge Distillery offers tastings at two locations and tours 11-6 Tuesday – Sunday at their distillery. Ski down the Four O’Clock ski run and walk across the street to the Blue River Plaza for après ski tasting. Pair pre-prohibition era cocktails with great food dishes right around the corner at Modis.
Also try: Breckenridge Distillery’s classic spiced rum released seasonally every autumn or the crystal clear Breckenridge Vodka in the signature cocktail the Breckenridge Burro.
High West Distillery: “A passion for great spirits, a love of the American West.”
The High West Distillery is located in the heart of Old Town Park City, UT and is Utah’s first distillery since the 1870’s. Navigating the challenging liquor laws of the Beehive state, High West is known best for its Rendezvous Rye whiskey which is a blend of 16 year-old and 6 year-old rye whiskeys giving it a fully flavored, spicy taste. High West offers several different whiskeys and blends including their silver line of clear whiskey products in honor of the silver mining days of Park City. Located at 7,000 feet in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, High West lives up to the Western tradition. Don’t be surprised to see a cowboy or two saunter into the saloon.
When to visit: Park City Mountain Resort opens for the ski season November 23rd and the High West Distillery is open year round. Ski down the Town run into Old Town proper and you’re bellying up to the High West Distillery and Saloon. Tours depart at 3pm and 4pm daily and reservations are encouraged. Try the Kentucky Whiskey Beer Cheese and don’t forget the pickles.
Also try: High West’s signature silver whiskey in a Silver Manhattan or the High West Whiskey Campfire on ice.
Destination Expert, Jessie Burley