Whiskey Review: 291 Colorado Whiskey

291 Colorado Whiskey

image via Zach Braunstein/The Whiskey Wash

My father is a whiskey drinker; his love for the stuff was passed on to me, and now it’s something we share. It’s something we can come together to enjoy, to discuss, to bond over.

But for some, the passion goes deeper, the pull stronger. It was like that for Michael Myers, founder of Colorado Springs’ own Distillery 291. A successful NYC fashion photographer, Myers describes feeling the pull of the mountains his entire life. The story of the cowboy and the outlaw; the myth of the West. Dust and wind and hard bourbon. After witnessing the events of 9/11, Myers felt the need to leave the big city for someplace both safer and more wild. Bringing his love of whiskey with him, Distillery 291 was born.

Founded in 2011, Distillery 291 is Colorado Springs’ first craft distillery. Located in the former home of the microbrewery Bristol Brewing Company, Myers added a special touch to make sure he wouldn’t forget his photographic past: his still is made out of seven copper photogravure plates he used to print portraits back in New York City.

Distillery 291’s current selection includes five types of whiskey as well as a citrus clove whiskey liquor – I guess sometimes when you come out to the country, you can’t help but bring a little bit of the city out with you.

Tasting Notes: 291 Colorado Whiskey

Vital Stats: The 291 Colorado Whiskey is a 101.7 proof, rye malt mash. It’s aged in American White Oak and then finished for upwards of six months with toasted aspen staves for enhanced flavor. It comes in a 750 ml cork-topped bottle and retails for about $70.

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Appearance: A dark amber, with hints of clay-red, the 291 Colorado Whiskey is caramel-smooth with long, slow legs.

Nose: The nose is spicy and sweet; toffee mixed with Mexican chocolate.

Palate: It’s a 101.7 proof bottle, and you can taste it. The first sip is sharp and overwhelming, hitting you with a bitter back-of-the-throat catch – charcoal ash with some of the fire still in it. There are sweet afternotes – a hint of apricot and dates – but they’re unfortunately overpowered by that first diesel-fume swallow.

Final Thoughts: 

Myers suggests using some of his other whiskeys as the base for a whiskarita or a gimlet; considering how sharp and overpowering the 291 Colorado Whiskey is, I’d suggest adding it to the mixer pile as well. There’s an enjoyable aftertaste if you’re willing to sit through those harsh first notes to reach it, but for $70 a bottle, it’s hard to justify paying that kind of money to drink this one – straight or mixed.