I lived in Colorado for over 20 years. I have a lot of good memories from there. I loved the weather. I loved the scenery. And, best of all, I met Mrs. Whiskeyfellow there. I return at least once a year to see my family. Colorado has a special place in my heart.
One thing that Colorado can be iffy on is whiskey. I've had excellent whiskeys and I've had very mediocre ones. But, what I didn't know until very recently was Vail, where I used to ski quite a bit, has its own distillery: 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company.
Vail isn't the 10th mountain in Colorado. 10th Mountain refers to a storied Army Light Infantry division activated back in 1943. It was set up specifically for mountain terrain and arctic warfare. After World War II, it had been deactivated and reactivated a number of times before relocating to Fort Drum. And, since 2001, it has been the most deployed unit in the Army.
The actual distillery sits at an elevation of 6,312 feet in Gypsum. The tasting room is located in Vail at 8,150 feet. They curate their ingredients from the local area. They also actively support a few veteran charities.
Today's review is 10th Mountain Rye Whiskey. It is distilled from a mash of 75% Rye, 21% Corn, and 4% Malted Barley. According to Founder Ryan Thompson, they aged it for a year in new, #4 charred oak, using 5, 10, 30 and 53-gallon barrels, most of which are 53-gallon barrels sourced from Barrel 53. Bottled at 86°, it retails for $45.00. I'd like to thank 10th Mountain for providing me a sample of their Rye in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. And now, time to #DrinkCurious.
In my Glencairn glass, the whiskey presented as a soft caramel in color. It left a thin rim that created fat, wavy legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine.
Despite the fact that there is only 4% malt, you'd never know it from the nose, because that's the first thing that hit the olfactory senses. The malt was followed by peaches and oak. But, additional exploration yielded floral rye and cinnamon. When I inhaled through my lips, it was all floral rye.
The mouth had a medium feel that was oily and coated my entire mouth. If this was aged in smaller barrels, there are no telltale signs of it. Moreover, despite the young age, there was nothing harsh. At the front, that 4% barley became the headliner with milk chocolate. Immediately behind that, but still on the front, was plum. As the liquid worked to the middle, a blend of toffee, oak, and mint offered an interesting sensation of flavor. Then, on the back, it was an expected rye spice and a smidge of barrel char.
A medium-short finish consisted of rye spice, very dry oak, and black pepper. The closing note was definitely the pepper.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: When this whiskey was sent to me, I had to have a friend at a local liquor store facilitate the transaction due to shipping restrictions. As a token of appreciation, since he had never tried anything from 10th Mountain, we cracked open the bottle there for an introductory pour. We were shocked by how much of the malt dominated the nose and front considering its relatively low content. We also agreed this was proofed correctly. When you toss in a very affordable $45 price tag, 10th Mountain Rye Whiskey becomes an easy Bottle recommendation. Cheers!