Peach Street Distillers, Colorado
Rocky Mountain Fruit Garden.
Supported by thriving orchards of fruit, Palisade is situated at the very junction between a huge flat plain and the gateway into the towering walls that guard the Rocky Mountains from the west. The dramatic cliffs and rock formations are a testament to time, having eroded and evolved to produce spectacular masterpieces. Similarly, the Peach Street Distillery has clearly evolved, all be it over a mush shorter period of time and produces some masterpieces of its own.
It would be easy to drive past the low roofed distillery, situated between houses of a similar appearance, if it were not for the square glass tower protruding from the roofline with a shinning copper column still housed within it. The juxtaposed exterior is matched internally with a mish-mash of old wooden and steel fermentation vessels, heavy iron and oak beam supports and old faded alongside gleaming new pieces of distilling equipment. The haphazardness may not be as accidental as first appearances suggest as the theme is carried through onto the bottle labeling and in a sense reflects the unconventional approach of the founders, Dave Thibodeau, Bill Graham and Rory Donovan.
In true craft approach, it is very evident that Peach Street Distillers are happy to and indeed believe in experimenting and pushing the boundaries. With a lot of hard work, dedication and a pioneering spirit the trio have grafted and given their all to get their distillery to the success it is today. Having spent five years running a brewery in Durango then experimenting with excess cider from a neighboring operation, they moved to Palisade in 2005 to develop their new found interest in distilling fruits. This makes them the second craft distillery to start up in Colorado and actually the first to start selling their own product.
Ten years on and their range of (European style) eau-de-vie, grappa and brandy drinks, all made from locally grown fruit, are winning award after award. With the various fruits being only seasonally available, it was clear early on that making whiskey should also be core to their operation and now the hot and crammed warehouse is full of maturing whiskey. In fact production of whiskey has had to be scaled back due for now to the lack of warehouse space.
Starting out with a small 130 gallon (500 litre) pot and column still, up until now everything has been distilled through the one still. Prior to taking delivery of a new 500 gallon (1,900 litre) 22 plate, pot and column still a week ago, the original unit was being run flat out over three shifts to keep up with demand. Now the old still will be dedicated to small batch whiskies and other batch spirits.
Eau-de-Vie and Grappa are clear spirits made from fruit that tend to be dry and subtly fruity, while Brandy tends to be richer and sweeter. Pear is a very popular fruit to distil with due to its high concentration of sugar and the pear Brandy I sampled had additionally been aged in an oak cask. It had a particularly powerful and delicious pear flavor and would make a great desert drink.
The vodka is made from 50% barley plus wheat and corn, which is a particularly high percentage of Barley, (the most expensive of grains). The bourbon on the other hand is made up of 60% corn, 20% rye and 20% barley, which again is a higher percentage of barley than found in the average Bourbon. I found it to be very nice – smooth, fruity, sweet and not overly influenced by the wood, again typical in many Bourbons. This is likely due to the slightly shorter charring of their casks, resulting in less caramel and vanilla flavors from the wood.
A single malt will be released shortly, made with malted barley from Scotland and will have matured for 3 to 4 years. Also in the pipeline is a beer schnapps distilled from a dark stout beer that has been maturing for two years now. Plenty to look forward to from Colorado’s western most distillery.
Peach Street Eau-de-Vie range including Pear, Cherry and Peach
Peach Street Brandy range including Pear, Peach and Apricot
Peach Street Colorado Straight Bourbon
Peach Street Jackelope Gin
Peach Street Goat Vodka