Tinhorn Colorado Straight Blue Corn Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

A little over two years ago, I reviewed a Colorado Straight Bourbon called Cinder Dick. The little boy in me had a lot of fun with that whiskey’s name, but nothing was childish about how it performed.


Durango Craft Spirits has its second Bourbon hitting the market. This one is called Tinhorn. We learned what Cinder Dick meant: it is slang for a railroad detective. What’s a Tinhorn?


“Gambling was a popular form of entertainment for miners and railroaders who flocked to southwest Colorado in the latter part of the 19th century. Professional gamblers were able to make a living gambling and they found it particularly profitable to work in newly-formed mining towns. The term Tinhorn originated from a game of chuck-a-luck, where three dice were rolled down a chute onto a flat area known as the horn. The cone-shaped chute was usually made of leather, but the cheaper chutes used by some unscrupulous and unskilled gamblers were made of tin, hence the name Tinhorn Gambler.”Michael McCardell, co-owner of Durango Craft Spirits


Nowadays, the term implies a contemptible person who pretends to have money, influence, or abilities.


Tinhorn is a single barrel four-grain Bourbon. It is 65% non-GMO blue corn from the Ute Mountain Utes, 18% raw Colorado-grown Centennial white wheat, 8.5% raw Colorado-grown San Luis Valley rye, and 8.5% two-row malted barley from Colorado Malting Company. All grains come from within 100 miles of the distillery.


Durango Craft Spirits then mashed, distilled, and aged the concoction in new, #4-char 53-gallon white oak barrels for two years. It was bottled on-site at 94°, and a 750ml bottle costs about $62.00.


How’s Tinhorn taste? The only way to answer that is to #DrinkCurious, but before I do, I must thank Durango Craft Spirits for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it!


Appearance: As a neat pour in my Glencairn glass, Tinhorn presented as chestnut with a thicker rim. A mix of sticky droplets and long, wavy legs hugged the wall.


Nose: An aroma of field corn flowed from the neck of my glass. Beneath it lay floral rye, caramel, vanilla, and charred oak. When I pulled the vapor into my mouth, vanilla and rye spice crawled across my tongue.


Palate:  The first sip was oily, and subsequent ones added additional weight. Kettle corn was the first flavor experienced, followed by vanilla and caramel. I found spiced nuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg as it moved to the middle. The back offered a blast of clove, leather, and charred oak.


Finish:  A very long, arid finish consisted of kettle corn, charred oak, old leather, and cinnamon Red Hots. When I say long, I’m considering several minutes.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve never before used kettle corn as a tasting note; it was the first thing I tasted. It was unmistakable. Tinhorn has a lot of bold flavors going for it and reminded me a lot of Cinder Dick (I still have that bottle because it was so unique). If I didn’t know what I know about Tinhorn, I’d have never guessed it was only two years old in standard cooperage – there’s nothing young about it. Finally, it is proofed correctly, likely the reason it doesn’t taste young. At $62.00, it may seem pricey for its stated age, but I don’t believe that you’d consider buyer’s remorse if you purchased a Bottle.  Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.