Bourbon from Colorado rocks! Sorry, we couldn't help ourselves. It's not the first time we have ventured toward the Rockies in search of a top notch tipple with a cool story. There's a reason for that too. It's a part of the world that lends itself well to creating fine bourbon.
Take Molly Brown Spirits, which has anchored itself on the edge of Downtown Denver. They’re taking grain-to-glass to new levels with a pioneering and do-it-yourself spirit.
With over 300 days of sunshine a year, Colorado has the perfect conditions to make top notch bourbon.
“We get the snow all winter long on the Rocky Mountains just behind us,” Justin Lee, CEO and Head Distiller told us. “That melts to provide the water that feeds the grain, to make our ferment and also the water that we use to add to the bourbon when we proof it down from our barrels.”
“We take whole grain straight out of Loveland right up the road. We mill it up ourselves, we cook it, ferment it, distill it, put it in brand new American 53 gallon charred barrels and out pops beautiful bourbon,” Justin added. “Our bourbon is 100% grain-to-glass. We do everything here except for growing the grain ourselves.”
That includes building the stills and tasting room.
“Everything at Molly Brown distillery is handcrafted from the equipment in the back to the bourbon to our actual tasting room,” Justin said. “Our hands have made every single thing involved here.”
Even the scar on Justin’s face is a war wound from a misadventure with an angle grinder while making the still.
We checked out where Molly Brown gets their grains and met up with Todd Olander with Root Shoot Malting who explained their process.
“Grain-to-glass spirits is more than just a tagline. It's our way of life,” Told explained to us. “We grow the best grains in Colorado, if not the country. With those grains, you can produce some of the best whiskey and that's why we've chosen to work with Molly Brown Spirits.”
And what about the name? Molly Brown is a Denver icon having survived the sinking of the Titanic to go on to become a well known socialite and philanthropist.
“We chose Molly Brown to pay tribute to all the strong women in our lives, our wives, our mothers, our grandmothers,” Jon Jachimiec, a co-owner of Molly Brown Spirits explained to us. “And there’s no better way of doing that by using the name Molly Brown.”
“There are plenty of women that enjoy bourbon and whiskey but there's not a lot of females in the branding of whiskey. It's all a boys club — Jim, Jack and Ezra. There's no ladies,” Justin added. “We thought it's time to bring a lady into the mix. And what better woman from Colorado than Molly Brown.”
So what about their bourbon — is it any good? Well, we had to find out for ourselves. They make two types of bourbon — their standard and their high rye bourbon.
“Typically, bourbons are made from 90 to 95% corn. The problem that we see with that is that corn doesn't have a whole lot of flavor to it. At Molly Brown, we like flavor in our bourbon,” Justin said while sipping a glass. "We make a High Rye Bourbon that's made with the bare minimum amount of corn at 51%, there’s 35% rye and the remainder is malted barley. It starts out as a bourbon on the front of your palate but as you roll it over your palate actually turns it into a rye so you get the spiciness of the rye and the complex flavor of the rye."
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What’s in the box
Molly Brown Standard Bourbon
75% Corn / 18% Rye / 7% Malted Barley
Each small batch of Molly Brown Bourbon begins with their signature, 3-grain blend of 75% Corn, 18% Rye, and 7% Malted Barley. These flavors are melded together by their meticulous on-the-grain distillation process and then it’s aged in-house in 53-gallon new American Charred Oak Barrels. The result is a beautifully balanced Bourbon with a familiar corn sweetness up front followed by subtle spice and complexity derived from the rye and barley as it rolls over the tongue.
Molly Brown's High Rye Bourbon
51% Corn / 35% Rye / 14% Malted Barley
Each small batch of Molly Brown Bourbon begins with their bold, 3-grain blend of 51% Corn, 35% Rye, and 14% Malted Barley. These flavors go through the same meticulous on-the-grain distillation process and are then aged in-house in 53-gallon new American Charred Oak Barrels. The bold flavors of Colorado Rye are front and center as the initial sweetness of corn gives way to delicious cinnamon and pepper flavors that can only come from rye grown in the Colorado sunshine.
Not already a member? Sign up to RackHouse Whiskey Club to try some Molly Brown Spirits in our upcoming box being shipped in October.