Let’s take a Four Corners distillery road trip

by Angelica Leicht

There’s something really rad about consuming foods that are native to your region. Whether it’s a side of nutty, forest-grown mushrooms (watch out for the all-white ones, though) or the foraged greens on your fancy salad, locally sourced food is where it’s at.

But while morels are great, today we’re going to be talking to you about locally sourced booze instead. That’s right, booze. Mushrooms (unless they’re of the psilocybin variety) just can’t give you the buzz that a house-distilled vodka from Telluride or a honey whiskey from Durango can.

There are plenty of places nearby from which you can forage your boozy wares, and all of the distilleries on this list take care to use as many local ingredients in their process as possible. That means you can rest drunk and assured that the grains in your vodka were harvested right around the corner. Cool, eh?

Yeah, we think so, too. So, please strap on your seat belts and take this Four Corners distillery road trip with us. But make sure you clear out your trunks first. You’re going to have plenty of glass-bottled treasures to haul back.

Honey House Distillery33633 US-550, 970-247-1474, honeyhousedistillery.comGood booze and good honey. What could possibly be wrong with that combination? Nothing, we say, which is why Honey House Distillery is on this list. Honey House Distillery is also on this list because they are magicians of distilling, creating booze from honey, much like Jesus turned water into wine. Don’t believe us? Their Hex Vodka is proof. It’s vodka made with Honeyville wildflower honey, which these illusionists conjure into a mead, and then distill and blend with an original grain vodka. The results? UnBEElievable. (Sorry. So sorry.) But if you’re looking for something even more out of the box, er, hive, you can snag the Cinnamon Honey Whiskey, which is made with their Honey Whiskey and a cinnamon stick. Oh, and in case you weren’t aware, this distillery is a local one, which is awesome, and means you can kick your road trip off at home. Sweet, right?

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Durango Craft Spirits1120 Main Ave. #2, 970-247-1919, durangospirits.comAll right, all right. If you live on the grid, perhaps Durango Craft Spirits, our little hometown distillery right off of Main Ave., doesn’t warrant an actual road trip. Most of you can probably use your pata-mobile to get there. But it would be remiss of us to ignore the distillery down the road JUST BECAUSE it’s down the road. After all, this gem was the first grain-to-glass distillery to pop up in Durango following Prohibition, and their booze is crafted, mashed, distilled, and bottled right downtown. Oh, and they only use regional grains to make their masterpieces – think white corn from the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, or grains from Alamosa – which makes it a truly local experience. Plus, you know…they have moonshine, and if you ask nicely, they’ll mix it up into the very best boozy strawberry lemonade for ya. But if moonshine ain’t your thing, you can always grab an expertly crafted cocktail off their extensive menu, or a bottle of Cinder Dick bourbon whiskey or Soiled Doves vodka to tide you over. Whatever tickles your Cinder Dick fancy.

Three Rivers Brewstillery109 E Main St., Farmington, New Mexico, 505-324-2187, threeriversbrewery.com/brewstilleryYou’re likely familiar with Farmington’s Three Rivers Brewery, but are you aware that this brewery also has a hand-bottled distillery? Well, now you are. At Three Rivers Brewstillery, these masters of mash are churning up some delicious, and local, hard liquor, like Fox Hole Hooch, a bourbon mash made of corn, wheat, and barley, and Gladys Gin, which is made using their house-made vodka and seven botanicals, including bitter juniper. If you swing by their brewstillery, just a short drive from Durango, you can either grab a bottle of this hand-labeled booze, or you can try some out in one of their house cocktails, like the Foxy Foxy, a whiskey-based drink made with lavender-vanilla simple syrup, lime juice, and their house ginger beer. Or, you know, you could do a little of both, cause booze. Your call, man.

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KJ Wood Distillers929 Main St., Ouray, 303-517-7697, kjwooddistillers.comYeah, yeah. Ouray isn’t exactly close, but this is a distillery road trip list, remember? And Ouray, a town about 70 miles from Durango, certainly requires a trip in the car. But if you’re going to drive 70 miles for booze, it should probably be to a place like KJ Wood Distillers, where you can find yourself some Ourye whiskey, a rye mash whiskey that’s aged for one year in New American Oak Casks, and bottled right in the San Juan Mountains. You can also find other spirits like their Jinn Ginn, their fancy-schmancy house made gin (obviously), or Berthoud Blue Vodka, vodka made with blue corn so it’s mighty purdy to look at, and mighty tasty to drink. What’s super cool about KJ Wood Distillers is that their tasting room menu is full of unique cocktails, like the Toto, I Have a Feeling We’re Not in Moscow Anymore, a drink with the world’s longest name, and the world’s best ingredient: blue vodka. The tasting room also has a steady calendar of live entertainment, so if you time it right, you can catch a singer-songwriter or a comedy show, depending on the day. But even if you arrive on a day when the entertainment calendar is empty, the booze will provide. It always provides.

Telluride Distilling Co.152B Society Drive, Telluride, 970-728-2910, telluridedistilling.comAhem. Do you like schnapps? Well then you’ll like Telluride Distilling Co., a distillery in – you guessed it – good ol’ Telluride. This distillery makes a little thing called Chairlift Warmer Peppermint Schnapps, a European-Alps style schnapps that is bound to knock the socks right off of ya. But if peppermint schnapps sounds a little heavy for the summer, you can always indulge in one of their other spirits, including their killer vodka, which is distilled in their continuous fractioning column before it’s filtered over and over again to make it perfect for ya. You can take a tour of this here distillery every day from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer, during which you might be able to snag a taste or two of those fancy-pants spirits.

Peak Spirits26567 North Road, Hotchkiss, 970-361-4249, jackrabbithill.comYou’re going to have to do a little planning if you want to tour and taste any booze at Jack Rabbit Hill Farm, home to Peak Spirits. This small distillery and booze farm in Hotchkiss will let you traipse through their stompin’ grounds (which include wine stompin’ grounds and a cidery, should you be looking for the lighter booze fare), but you can only do so by appointment. It’ll be worth a phone call to schedule something, though, because this place is neato burrito. Their CapRock vodka, gin, and brandies (that’s right, multiple brandies) are fermented and distilled in a Bavarian-made copper pot still on Jack Rabbit Hill, and include options like pear or peach brandy, and the CapRock Biodynamic Barrel-Aged Apple Brandy, a certified Biodynamic brandy made with heirloom apples grown at nearby Filigreen Farm. Fruit booze? We’ll take five.

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Storm King Distilling41 W Main St., Montrose, 970-765-5606, facebook.com/stormkingdistilling/Storm King Distilling is the furthest place to visit on our distillery road trip list, and it’s not exactly in the Four Corners, but we’ve included it for good reason. This distillery just opened its doors in June, and they’ve been knocking years off of their patrons’ livers ever since. They distill their own spirits, including Storm King vodka and Storm King Agave Blanco, and then they pull a few magic tricks and create some seriously innovative cocktails for ya. You can opt to grab a bottle or six of their booze, or you can start the day off with a drink in their bar to sample the wares. They whip up drinks like the Storm King Bloody Mary, which is stacked with a skewer of pickles, olives, and meat, and perfect for an early morning dip in the vodka pool. You can progress to drinks like the jaw-dropping Full Moon Martini or the Agave Buzz, a new take on the Verbena cocktail from the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s Chandelier Bar in Las Vegas. The folks at Storm King advise you to think of it as a margarita, but with a little surprise. We’re always down for surprises. Always.

Angelica Leicht

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