The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2011

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Barn Find W hiskey brands have been started in bars, at parties and at exhausting meetings. But only one has the unique beginning at a burning barn. On April 2, 1998, long-time brewmaster George Stranahan, a Renaissance man of sorts, watched his barn burn down to a skeleton frame. One of the fi remen was his neighbor, Jess Graber. Stranahan looked at Graber, who had been an ama- teur distiller since 1972, and asked if he'd rebuild the barn. To which Graber replied: "Yeah, if you let me put a still in there." Smoke still in the air, the men shook hands, and a few weeks later Graber was experimenting with malted-barley recipes. He was not happy with the results. Then, after a party at Stranahan's, Graber found a leftover keg half-fi lled with Stranahan's Flying Dog beer. He distilled the fl at beer. And found the fl avor he'd been looking for. Thus, Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey was born. Why is it called Stranahan's and not after its inventor, Graber? "'Graber Colorado Whiskey' did poorly in the focus groups. And I like my name a lot more on a paycheck than the bottle," says Graber, who sold Tasting Notes At 94 proof, you expect it to be hot. It does give heat, but that quickly dis- sipates into smooth and rich leather, caramel and vanilla with notes of orange peel and a slight hint of pear. The long, smooth fi nish is really quite enjoyable, with hints of oak and cigar box. STRANAHAN'S cOLORADO WHISKEY IS UNIQUE Stranahan's to Proximo Spirits in December 2010 but has remained a vital part of the company in this growing period. Stranahan's is actually Colorado's fi rst legitimate whiskey. An Army munitions plant in Arvada, CO, supposedly distilled and bottled whiskey in the 1940s; one bottle is on display at the local museum. But the federal government has no record of whiskey being legitimately produced. As the fi rst expression of its whiskey terroir, Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey does the Centennial State proud. Its barley is mountain-grown, and the crisp water comes from the Rockies. The single malt barley whiskey is aged in heavy-char American oak barrels that are stored in climate-controlled warehouses for two years. Until production is ramped up over the next couple of years, the brand is only available in Colorado. Where Graber and the current distiller, Jake Norris, win me over is by not chill-fi l- tering, which removes much of a whis- key's fl avor extracted from the barrel. So when you drop a couple pieces of ice in Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey, it clouds up instead of remaining transparent. More importantly, I believe, this process keeps the whiskey's special nuances, such as hints of leather and citrus, that are hard to fi nd in American whiskeys. Bottled at 94 proof, it is priced around $60 per 750 ml. at retail. This whiskey is meant for sipping, but the unique fl avors of vanilla and orange peel come through in any cocktail for which Stranahan's is the base. Of all the American whiskies on the market, nothing tastes quite like Stranahan's. It's not bourbon or like other American single malts. Much like the burning barn that put this into motion, Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey stands alone. 2 / the tasting panel / september 201 1

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