Locke + Co Big Catch Bourbon & Paper Plane Cocktail with Fly Fish Hooks

Paper Plane

Paper Plane Recipe

Ingredients

Glassware

Method

  1. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker three-quarters filled with ice
  2. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds
  3. Strain into a RepYourWater Rocks glass

Source

A Locke + Co Distilling / Rep Your Water Collaboration Cocktail

Locke + Co Big Catch Bourbon & Paper Plane Cocktail

Campers drinking Locke + Co Distilling Whiskey in the mountains

The Top Colorado Whiskeys for 2024

Need some help finding your new favorite Colorado whiskey? 

Look no further than the brands on this list. 

Maybe our famous crystal clear mountain waters make Colorado’s whiskeys so exciting. Or, perhaps it’s our high-altitude climate and rugged western spirit. 

Whatever the case, it’s undeniable that Colorado is making its mark on the lips of serious whiskey drinkers nationwide. 

If you’re exploring the world of whiskey, Colorado-style, our list is an excellent starting point. 

Here are our picks for the top ten Colorado whiskeys you should search high and low for in 2024. Whether mixed in a cocktail, sipped neat from your Glencairn, or enjoyed straight from the bottle (after all, it’s Colorado, and we’re rugged), here’s what we’ll be sipping this year. 

Locke + Co Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey

We put our aspen-aged rye whiskey in the top spot. Why? Because it’s the perfect introduction to Colorado’s unique flavors, and it’s our favorite whiskey to sip neat. 

We’re whiskey-loving artisans, and we use heritage distilling techniques to produce one of the best rye whiskeys available. 

Locke + Co Aspen-Aged Rye Whiskey features notes of burnt sugar caramel, poached pear, and a complex woodiness imparted by the hand-cut and hand-charred aspen discs included in each barrel. 

For our money, it’s the best Colorado rye whiskey for unwinding around a campfire—or sitting in your living room.

A Locke + Co. Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey Bottle in an Aspen tree

Stranahan's Mountain Angel

At over one hundred dollars per bottle, Stranahan’s Mountain Angel is considerably pricier than most whiskeys on this list. Still, it’s an excellent special occasion sipper. 

Mountain Angel is Stranahan’s oldest, rarest release. The juice is aged ten years in charred oak barrels amid Colorado’s arid, alpine climate, boosting the evaporation commonly known as the “angel’s share.”  

This creates an ultra-concentrated high-quality whiskey with notes of sweet molasses and dark caramel – best served over ice.


Deerhammer American Single Malt

At over one hundred dollars per bottle, Stranahan’s Mountain Angel is considerably pricier than most whiskeys on this list. Still, it’s an excellent special occasion sipper. 

Mountain Angel is Stranahan’s oldest, rarest release. The juice is aged ten years in charred oak barrels amid Colorado’s arid, alpine climate, boosting the evaporation commonly known as the “angel’s share.”  

This creates an ultra-concentrated high-quality whiskey with notes of sweet molasses and dark caramel – best served over ice.


Breckenridge Rum Cask Finish Bourbon

If you enjoy whiskey with an unexpected flavor twist, you’ll probably love Breckenridge Rum Cask Finish Bourbon. Infused with fruit and spices, it’s excellent in a tropical rum punch.

Aging happens in barrels previously used to create spiced rum, soaking in the flavor of roots, barks, herbs, spices, and dried fruit peels to develop this unique whiskey. 

The whiskey moves in once the rum is finished, creating a mild yet sweet spirit perfect for folks starting their Colorado whiskey journey.


Leopold Bros Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey

In 1999, two brothers at the forefront of America’s burgeoning craft whiskey movement founded Leopold Bros. Today, the brand is one of Colorado’s most beloved and respected spirits producers.

One of their latest creations, Leopold Bros Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey, has a spicy cinnamon coffee charm, with a subtle toffee sweetness that makes this bottle perfect for blending into an Old Fashioned.

Keep it simple: bourbon, bitters, maraschino cherry, orange peel, sugar cube – muddle, stir with ice, sip, enjoy, rinse and repeat.


Woody Creek Colorado Straight 100% Rye Whiskey

This Colorado rye whiskey earns its place on the list for both the drinking experience it offers and the locally minded ethos behind its creation. 

With a subtle, ultra-dry flavor featuring floral aromas and notes of black pepper, Woody Creek’s Colorado Straight 100% rye whiskey is a smooth drinker true enthusiasts will appreciate.


291 Small Batch Colorado Bourbon

Like our top pick, Locke + Co Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey, 291 Small Batch Colorado Bourbon is finished with aspen for an ultra-complex finish.

The staves 291 uses are toasted, making this small-batch whiskey incredibly smoky, with a strong campfire aroma that undergirds a maple sugar sweetness. Perfect for use in a classic whiskey sour.


Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon Bonded

We love this bottle from Laws because it’s like sipping a sliver of Colorado whiskey history.

The makers of the first Bottled in Bond whiskey in Colorado history, it’s produced following the requirements of the 1897 Bottled in Bond Act, using a seriously old school approach.

Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon Bonded is aged in a federally bonded rickhouse for four years.

It’s the product of a single season, per the act. With an orange blossom and honey sweetness, it’s a delicious sip of the past that makes a great Manhattan!


TIN CUP Straight Rye

While it’s one of the best-known Colorado whiskeys for casual drinkers across the US, TIN CUP has a little secret—it’s distilled and aged in Indiana!

But it still earns a place on any list of Colorado whiskeys because it’s named after the town of Tin Cup, a storied mining community where miners carried whiskey and gold in the same small tin vessels. So with a cute tin lid to sip from, it’s a nice homage to Colorado whiskey’s roots.


Old Elk Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Like TIN CUP, Old Elk isn’t a straight-up Colorado-made product, as it’s made in distilleries in New York, Indiana, and Fort Collins, Colorado.

With a robust burnt oak and caramel flavor, Old Elk Straight Bourbon Whiskey also has a light coca sweetness, with a hint of cinnamon spice. With a mild, velvety mouthfeel, it’s easy to sip neat as you contemplate the whiskey wonders to come.


So there you have it—our list of Colorado’s top ten whiskeys in 2024; it’s time to get sipping.


How Locke + Co Distilling Rye Whiskey is made

Rye vs Bourbon: Everything You Need To Know

Trying to understand the differences between bourbon and rye? 

This blog will clear things up for you. 

In cocktails, toddies, and sipped around a campfire, bourbon and rye have equally delicious tastes that belong in any whiskey lover’s arsenal. But what makes these whiskeys different?

At Locke + Co. Distilling we’re passionate about the fine art of American rye whiskey, as well as delicious, sippable bourbon. We’re here to help you understand what makes each type of whiskey so special, so you’ll know what to reach for the next time you’re craving a deliciously sippable whiskey experience.


What is bourbon?

Many whiskey lovers erroneously believe that bourbon brands have to make their product in Kentucky. While that is not the case, bourbon must be made in the United States, or U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and Guam.

Bourbon is made with a fermented mash that uses corn as its base, meaning it must be at least 51% corn, plus other grains the distiller chooses like wheat, rye, or barley to complete the mash. It must be distilled to a maximum 80% alcohol by volume, and the final product must be diluted to go into the barrel at a maximum 65.5% ABV where the aging process begins.

The resulting distillation of whiskey is then matured in charred new oak barrels, preferably a charred American oak barrel if you’re going to do things right. It must then be bottled at a minimum alcohol content of 40% ABV.

With a smooth, silky mouthfeel and sweet taste, often featuring notes of vanilla, spices, and caramel, bourbon adds depth and complexity to any cocktail.


What is rye?

Unlike bourbon, rye doesn’t have to be made in the United States. While America is known for its tasty craft ryes—and is still considered the world’s leading rye producer by many connoisseurs—many other countries produce their own takes on rye. Canada has historically made terrific rye whiskey and Japan has become particularly popular in recent years for their fresh take on rye whiskies.

Locke Co. Distilling Rye next to glass with rye whiskey on a table with rye

However, if your whiskey tasting features an American rye (and it should!), it has to follow a specific set of rye mashing rules, according to the flavor profile Mash Bill. Instead of corn, rye mash must contain 51% rye grain, as well as other grains such as wheat and malted barley.

The fermentation and distillation process for rye is almost identical to that of bourbon, including aging in barrels (oak barrels), and the minimum 40% ABV for bottling, going into the barrel at a maximum of 65.5% ABV.. 

Bold, assertive, and spicy, rye has a fullness of body and an assertive character that make it the star of many classic cocktails.


What are the main differences between rye and bourbon?

First, there’s the Mash Bill. Rye must be made from a majority rye grain base, while bourbon uses sweeter corn. This difference in formulation results in a difference in taste that many whiskey consumers learn to savor. Rye is spicier, more robust, and often features peppery, herbal, or even floral notes. Sweet bourbon is known for its caramel warmth and soft, rich flavor. It’s worth doing a side-by-side tasting so you can appreciate the dramatic difference a grain makes for yourself.  BACK TO TOP


What role does the United States play in bourbon and rye production?

Whiskey has its roots in the earliest days of the American experiment. Rye whiskey was considered early America’s national spirit. It was the drink of choice for George Washington, who even distilled it at his Mount Vernon estate. 

Because rye was easy to grow in the northeast, early colonists who had a history of distilling it in Europe brought their stills over so they could continue producing whiskey once they arrived. In fact, America’s first rye distillery was established by a Scottish immigrant named John Morgan in 1791.

Bourbon gained popularity in the US much later, catching on at the time of the Civil War. Settlers in Kentucky took advantage of an abundance of corn to begin crafting this distinctive regional spirit, which quickly became many Americans’ drink of choice. By the mid 1800s, bourbon production was booming, growing in popularity for its sweet and easy sipping flavor.

Locke + Co Distilling Whiskey-Barrels aging in Colorado

The US Code of Federal Regulations sets the legal requirements for distilling both bourbon and rye. This code establishes requirements for mash composition, the aging process, ABV requirements, and everything else that makes each of these spirits unique. So if you like your whiskey, thank Uncle Sam!

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Locke + Co. Distilling: Our Approach to Rye and Bourbon

Our founders Rick and Owen were inspired to establish Locke + Co. Distilling because they wanted to reconnect to the roots of American rye and bourbon. 

It all starts with hand-cutting the aging discs from mature stands of aspen on family land flanking Central Colorado’s Mosquito Range to use in our whiskies. From there, we follow the standards for creating classic ryes and bourbons to the letter, grounding our modern whiskeys in the old fashioned roots that continue to inspire whiskey excellence.

Locke + Co Distilling Cut Aspen Discs
Locke + Co Flagship Aspen Aged Rye Bottle

Our flagship Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey is aged two years in brand new 30-gallon American oak barrels from The Barrel Mill out of Minnesota, using char levels 2, 3, 4, and 5. Once the aging process is completed, we craft the whiskey in tanks and finish it with those hand-cut and hand-charred aspen wood discs, which float in the whiskey for an additional eight months to create a distinctively complex yet compulsively sippable dram.

Locke + Co Distilling Bourbon Bottle

Our Aspen Aged Bourbon is aged even longer, spending three years in a new 30-gallon white American oak char 3 barrel, before being blended and finished with five months of exposure to our signature hand-cut and hand-charred aspen discs. Once the aging process is complete, we finish our bourbon for six weeks in a white American oak char 2 barrel that had been previously aging our rye whiskey for two years. 

This long and intricate process creates a bourbon that’s sweet, indulgent, and just a little more interesting than your standard bourbons, with a little of that old fashioned rye attitude.

BACK TO TOP


Conclusion

Corn-based bourbon is simple, sweet, and sippable, playing well with others and lending a caramel smoothness to your favorite whiskey cocktails. With a predominantly rye-based mash, rye has a more complex, grassy, peppery kick. Sassy yet sippable, it’s an American original that elevates even the simplest whiskey soda to new heights.

Understanding the differences between these two iconic spirits is a must for any serious whiskey lover. But don’t worry—we’d never make you choose a favorite! There’s more than enough whiskey love in our hearts to accommodate both rye and bourbon in all their glory


Locke + Co Aspen Aged Rye Bottles

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locke+club cocktail with three raspberries on pick laid over top of glass

Locke + Club

An elavated floral & fruit forward sour.

Ingredients

Garnish

  • Picked Raspberries

Glassware

Method

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker tin.
  2. Dry shake.
  3. Add ice.
  4. Vigorously shake again.
  5. Double strain into a stemmed sour glass.
  6. Garnish with three picked raspberries.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

locke+club cocktail with three raspberries on pick laid over top of glass and a bottle of Locke + Co Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey

Raspberry Syrup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 Parts Sugar
  • 1 Part Raspberries
  • 1 Part Water

Method

  1. Muddle the raspberries and mix thoroughly with the sugar.
  2. Let sit for 20-30 minutes until the mix becomes thick and syrupy.
  3. Add the water and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.


Locke + Co-Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey Bottle with an Aspen Swizzle Cocktail

Aspen Swizzle

An all too drinkable patio pounder.

Ingredients

  • 1½ oz Locke + Co. Aspen Aged Rye
  • 1 oz Pineapple Juice
  • ¾ oz Chareau
  • ½ oz Lime Juice
  • ¼ oz Simple Syrup (2:1)
  • 6-8 Expressed Mint Leaves

Garnish

  • Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • Expressed Mint Sprig

Glassware

  • Collins

Method

  1. Crush ice with a Lewis Bag and Mallet.
  2. Express mint leaves and add to a chilled Collins glass.
  3. Combine ingredients in glass.
  4. Fill glass 3/4 full with crushed ice.
  5. Swizzle.
  6. Top with more crushed ice.
  7. Quick swizzle.
  8. Grate nutmeg over top of the cocktail.
  9. Garnish with a fresh expressed mint sprig.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Aspen Swizzle Cocktail with freshly grated nutmeg and a Locke + Co-Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey Bottle

Golden Hour Cocktail with a Dehydrated Peach

Golden Hour

The perfect shaken Colorado cocktail.

Ingredients

Garnish

  • Dehydrated Peach

Glassware

Method

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker tin.
  2. Add ice.
  3. Shake to combine.
  4. Double strain into a coupe.
  5. Garnish with a dehydrated peach slice.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Golden Hour Cocktail with a Dehydrated Peach and a bottle of Locke + Co Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey

* MADE WITH ALL COLORADO INGREDIENTS


A-Fram Cocktail with an orange twist in a Nick & Nora Glass

A-Frame

A batch-worthy riff on the classic Old Pal.

Ingredients

Garnish

  • Orange Twist

Glassware

Method

  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice.
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Strain into a Nick & Nora glass.
  5. Garnish with an expressed orange twist.
  6. Serve and enjoy!


Locke + Co Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey and the centennial cocktail

The Centennial

The quintessential spirit-forward
Colorado cocktail experience.

Ingredients

Garnish

  • Flamed Orange & Picked Cherry

Glassware

  • Double Old Fashioned

Method

  1. Build in glass.
  2. Add a large rock to a double old fashioned glass and add ingredients to glass.
  3. Quick stir to combine.
  4. Flame a twist of orange above glass expressing and igniting the orange oils.
  5. Garnish with a picked cherry.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

the centennial cocktail with an orange flame twist and a bottle of Locke + Co Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey

*Can be batched

* MADE WITH ALL COLORADO INGREDIENTS
 We recommend using Traverse City cherries for “The Centennial” cocktail garnish.


Trouts Fly Fishing host Ivan Orsic and co-host Tanner Smith welcome RepYourWater's own Garrison Doctor & Locke + Co Distilling's Owen Locke

Trouts Fly Fishing with Locke + Co. Distilling

Trouts Fly Fishing host Ivan Orsic, and co-host Tanner Smith interview RepYourWater’s own Garrison Doctor. While filming this episode, they sip on the Locke + Co Aspen Aged Bourbon and learn all about this new product from co-founder Owen Locke.

Locke + Co. Aspen Aged Bourbon

  • Uncut & Unfiltered
  • 99% Corn
  • Aged 3 years in a new 30-gallon white American oak char 3 barrel
  • 5 months with cut and hand-charred aspen discs
  • Finished for 6 weeks in the Locke + Co American oak char 2 barrel  from their ye whiskey

Locke + Co Distilling Bourbon Bottle

Video Provided by: Trouts Fly Fishing

Check out Locke + Co Distilling Tik Tok Channel for cocktail recipes and more!