Whiskey Review: 291 Colorado Bourbon - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: 291 Colorado Bourbon

291 Colorado Bourbon

image copyright The Whiskey Wash

One of the pluses about the whiskey boom (some say fad, I say way of life) is the number of new distilleries popping up all over the country. Why make brown liquor in only one state when you can make it in any state?

Distillery 291 is a small batch distillery based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. They make two aged whiskies, two unaged whiskies, a citrus clove whiskey liqueur, and a bourbon. 291 has been around about three years, first in a 339-square-foot spot, and now in the expansive former home of the town’s Bristol Brewing Company.

291’s founder, Michael Myers, was a former fashion and advertising photographer before moving his family out west—and firing up his first run on the still in September of 2011. That still was fabricated using copper plates Myers had used previously for fine art photography. Myers grew up in the south, and 291’s products aim to fuse that southern background with the Wild West’s folklore with a motto that goes “291 embodies traditions of the past married with the boldness of the future: rugged, refined and, you bet, rebellious.”

That’s some highly aspirational copy right there. So let’s stow our shotguns and belly up to the bar to bite that bodacious bourbon.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Deep peach to orange: If a piece of perfectly toasted medium toast with butter were a liquid, it would be the 291.

Nose: Liquid-filled candies and chocolate-covered cherries mixed with wood char. It’s slightly smoky, but not peaty. Instead, you get a sense of a cabin, the outdoors, a campfire long-extinguished.

Palate: Begins fruity, with cherry essence—but then goes bitter. Almost as if the 291 already has bitters added to it. I’m impressed that for a 50 proof (100% alcohol) product, it doesn’t taste bitey or only of alcohol, as high-proofs can.

Finish: Campfire, carbon char comes to the forefront. Charred to the point of overdone. Adding a bit of water or a few crumbles of ice makes it open up and become less, if not hostile, then slightly more welcoming. Not that it’s completely unapproachable, but it is bold.


291’s website directs me to ride it like I stole it and drink it like I own it. Not sure what they’re going for with that, but: I think that gives me permission to bring this bourbon to a party, leave it there, and steal a bottle of something I like better.

I respect what 291 is doing, but at about $70 a bottle, I’m unconvinced the bitter char of this bourbon is worth it. And yet: It’s good quality, and sometimes that boldness is just what you need.