On Saturday, February 24, Two Parts and the Colorado Distillers Guild joined forces for the opening party of The Colorado Spirits Trail (CST). The event celebrated the release of an interactive map featuring an inclusive swath of the state’s finest artisanal distilleries. Featuring a challenge that invites participants to collect stamps from 44 of the participating purveyors — the map is an exciting way to explore the many delicious, innovative and varied local products. Covering northern Colorado, Colorado Springs, the Denver metro, the plains, the Western Slope and as far as Durango — the CST is a comprehensive resource for any lover of extraordinary, locally produced hooch. The full map features more than 70 participating distillers including Broken Arrow, Vapor, Mad Rabbit, Laws and Stranahan’s.

The contest.

Visiting the location and purchasing merchandise, bottles or cocktails will earn you a stamp. Ten visits will earn you a t-shirt, but for the truly committed the reward is enormously bountiful. The first 24 people to acquire all 44 stamps will receive a signed bottle from each of the participating distilleries at the 2019 event. While the task is clearly time-consuming, and will do a dent in anyone’s mileage, the reward is extravagant — enough to set all of the truly-dedicated up for years to come. With spring just around the corner, the challenge may be the perfect medicine for anyone who has gone stir-crazy being cooped-up this last winter. Regardless of your level of commitment, the CST is a marvelous resource for anyone interested in experiencing even a fraction of the state’s many producers.

While the event certainly favored whiskey, some of the best bottles in the building were not grain-based. Two gin expressions — the spring and autumn — from Block Distilling Co. stood out not only for their contrast but also for the nuanced complexity of each bottle. The spring was citrus-forward and appropriately crisp, while the autumn was spicy, floral and burly — perfectly suited for the poolside and the fireplace respectively. There was a lot of corn-mash, and even more local pride — and while the scene was obviously a victory lap for some of the more well-established houses, many of the newcomers drew some of the longest lines. Longmont-based Longtucky Spirits had a line of tasty clear whiskeys, rums and a gin — but the bright-eyed upstarts have yet to be in business long enough to have an aged spirit — though they are promising a bourbon and rye in 2019.

Spice of Life had its hands’ full keeping carbs in the bellies of the meandering audience working their way through two floors of rather liberal pours. However, a dedicated few kept the elegantly packaged bags of popcorn-heavy trail mix on the shelf — presumably saving lives, or at the very least keeping the questionable decision-making to a minimum. The real joy of the event was the clear dedication on display. The camaraderie was evident, but with the many innovators in the house, it was clearly a breeding ground for some healthy competition. All the better for us as the craft scene continues to grow.

The maps are available at any of the participating distilleries.

All photography courtesy of Alyson McClaran.