WHISKEY BLENDING IS A PERSONAL, HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE AT THE BRECKENRIDGE DISTILLERY.
The Founder’s Lab. PHOTO BY BRENT TAYLOR/COURTESY OF BRECKENRIDGE DISTILLERY
NO MATTER HOW RARE IT IS, one pricey bottle of Pappy Van Winkle is identical to the next. But what if you crave spirits that are perfectly calibrated to please your own specific nose and palate? Short of buying a distillery in Scotland, one of the few places you can blend your very own whiskey is in the new Founder’s Lab at the Breckenridge Distillery.
“The Founder’s Lab is part of the original distillery where everything started and the grain and barrels were stored,” says Erin Tatlock, Breckenridge Distillery’s retail manager. The distillery opened in 2008, and the freshly christened lab within maintains the same Western mountain aesthetic, with liberal use of barnwood and stone. The new space allows whiskey lovers to have a totally immersive spirits-blending experience, including a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the distillery’s towering 42-foot column still.
Head distiller Hans Stafsholt chooses four to five barrels of whiskeys. Sampling from each one, participants will learn how aroma, mouthfeel, taste and finish play a part in blending. “There’s a lot of variability from barrel to barrel with bourbon,” says Tatlock. “You might get one that is super butterscotch-forward.”
A veteran member of the distilling staff will help you create a precise formula for your own whiskey. The critical moment comes when you pour a finger of the golden liquid, straight or on the rocks, slowly sipping a taste of home. Once you’ve perfected your customized bourbon, you can take home a bottle— or a whole case.
If a one-time Founder’s Lab experience leaves you wanting more, consider Breckenridge Distillery’s Dark Arts Society. A five-year membership includes special tours, tastings and perks as well as use of the private Dark Arts Lounge. The exclusive space is filled with leather couches for sipping and members’ personal lockers, fully stocked. “Every year, we fill them with our whole lineup of spirits, including the cask-finished, high-proof, experimental and reserve spirits—and an engraved decanter set,” Tatlock says. 1925 Airport Road, Breckenridge, 970.547.9759, breckenridgedistillery.com