10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits opens new tasting room, distillery in Gypsum
Visitors who belly up to the bar at the new 10th Mountain Whiskey tasting room in Gypsum can sample all five of the company’s products:
• 92 Proof Bourbon — 75 percent corn mash with hints of vanilla and oak and a hint of honey
• Rye Whiskey — 86 proof with a spicy palate and a dry finish
• Vodka — 80 proof clear with a crisp, clean palate and a hint of pepper
• Moonshine — 100 percent corn mash for an 80 proof warm, dry palate
• Cordial — a 70 prof grain mash with a well-balanced, full body palate
A tasting flight and tour at the Gypsum site costs $25 and includes a $5 credit toward a purchase. Bar offerings also include a number of signature cocktails and special infused products. Learn more at 10thwhiskey.com.
The guys behind 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Co. aren’t simply selling alcohol.
They are also selling an idea, or more accurately, an ideal. Since 2014, the 10th Mountain crew has been promoting the idyllic Colorado mountain lifestyle, one bottle at a time, from their high-profile tasting room located in the heart of Vail Village.
Now with the opening of the 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Co. distillery and tasting room in Gypsum, the company has new digs to spread its message.
The new facility, located east of the Gypsum Interstate 70 interchange, features a rustic mountain lodge decor with a big bar on one side and a 10th Mountain Whiskey shop on the other. Scattered around the room are several bar tables and an array of display items the company has collected during the past three years. The door at the rear of the tasting room opens to the expansive, sparkling clean and shiny new distillery space.
Put the two together, and the valley has a great new place to party.
Finding a home in Gypsum
“We were looking for a space like this that would allow us to grow,” said Ryan Thompson, one of the 10th Mountain Whiskey principals. “This (the new Gypsum space) was just the right location.”
Like the craft beer industry that has swept through the state, craft distilling is gaining a lot of traction around Colorado. Thompson and his partner Christian Avignon predicted that trend a few years back.
“We figured someone in this region needed to make whiskey, so it might as well be us,” Thompson said. “We wanted to launch a mountain lifestyle brand.”
They began that quest at Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky. They then secured the funding, built a still and began production. That may sound simple, but their efforts were far from it, beginning with the myriad regulations governing the distilling business.
Thompson and Avignon started 10th Mountain Whiskey with a 15-gallon still named Old Betsy. Today, they distill their products in a 500-gallon still named War Angel.
“We worked really hard to develop five great products out of the gate,” Avignon said.
They also worked hard on branding. The 10th Mountain Division is the stuff of legend, especially in this area where the World War II skiing soldiers trained at Camp Hale. Avignon’s grandfather was a medic with the 10th Mountain Division, so he grew up hearing about its exploits.
“Without the 10th Mountain Division, the ski industry, as we know it, wouldn’t be what it is today,” Thompson said.
The 10th Mountain team put a lot of thought and effort into their skiing solider outline logo and the bottle designs for their various products. The attention to detail regarding how their products look is mirrored in what pours out of the bottles.
From the beginning, 10th Mountain Whiskey set a policy of using the best, local ingredients available. Their grain, corn and potatoes are from farms in the Alamosa area. Their barrels are fashioned from white American oak, and they are only used one time, per bourbon aging requirements.
The latest addition to the whiskey-making operation is the town of Gypsum water supply.
“The community is really proud of its water,” Thompson said, adding that Gypsum’s warmer temperatures and the wider gap between high and low temperatures is also a whiskey-making plus.
A trip to the distillery isn’t just about the alcohol. It’s also an opportunity to learn a bit more about what you are drinking and hear the company’s story. Memorabilia lines the tasting-room walls, and the company shop features everything from socks to watches A tasting room visit is a chance to get immersed in the mountain lifestyle that gave birth to the company.
“There’s nothing else like this in the valley,” Thompson said. “That was one of our goals when we started, to offer something the valley didn’t really have yet.”
The new Gypsum tasting room is open Wednesday through Saturday from 1 to 9 p.m. The 7,000-square-foot space can accommodate large private and public events of up to 200 people. For more information, call 970-470-4215.
While they expand their business, Thompson and Avignon stressed they are also expanding their charitable efforts. The Vail Veterans Program, the Wounded Warrior Project and the 10th Mountain Foundation are all beneficiaries.
To learn more about 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Co. and the new Gypsum space, visit 10thwhiskey.com.
Front Range duo Shovelin Stone, made up of Makenzie Willox and Eagle Valley High School graduate Zak Thrall, performed the final ShowDown Town concert in Eagle this summer. While in town, they stopped by the Vail Daily to perform a Newsroom Jam.