Stop #8: Peach Street Distillers
Late Sunday night we checked into the Wine Country Inn in Palisade, Colorado. We had a quick meal in the hotel’s bar and met Tyler, their bar manager who had a solid knowledge of craft-distilled spirits. After our meal, he and I sampled a little Mancos Valley Distilling Ian’s Alley Rum in the armchairs just outside the bar as I regaled him with Ian’s story about opening a distillery. I invited Tyler and his friends to the Colorado Distillers Festival. We certainly hope they can make it.
A short 15 minute drive east of Grand Junction, Palisade is a mecca for locally-produced food & drink. Fruit & vegetable stands are open for business along the road just off the highway. Things are growing in neat lines all over Palisade, especially vineyards.
Companies in Palisade make wine, beer, and spirits. And that’s just on one block.
Peach Street Distillers is right next to a winery, and down the block is the Palisade Brewing Company. It’s great to see so many people producing booze so close to each other.
I pulled up to Peach Street Distillers about 10am and met head distiller Davy Lindig in their tasting room. Davy is an easy going, soft-spoken, laid back guy who greeted me in shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. A few minutes into our chat, some other dude showed up and brought Davy a bag of large radishes. I guess he was a homebrewer and was there to chat about beer with Davy. When asked about the radishes, the guy remarked, ”Keep them cold and they’re not too spicy.” While they were shooting the shit, I decided to shoot my own shit – I started snapping a few photos around their space.
Davy has been around brewing and distilling for years, and his knowledge of both is impressive. Peach Street is making a big name for itself, even though they’re practicing their craft in a small town. At the 2012 Craft Distillers Conference, Peach Street took home the award for “Distillery of the Year”. Distillery of the Year represents the accolades of a distillery’s entire product line. Peach Street makes a ton of different kinds of booze, including bourbon, brandy, agave, gin, vodka, grappa and other eau de vies.
Peach Street’s facility is made up of a bunch of buildings on one lot. The tasting room is in the front of the lot, along with a large outdoor patio. In the back of the tasting room area are the fermentors & stills that Peach Street uses to make most of their booze. Heading out the door by their medium-sized Christian Carl still, you end up in a courtyard and a few other buildings flanking the open cement area.
In the courtyard is an old fermentor used to cool hot liquids before they drain into the sewer. Beyond that is a 1/2 barrel keg with a column still attached to the top, used to make their gin. Davy makes his gin in the tradition of many of the world’s gin distillers, using neutral grain spirits, diluted to 100 proof. The keg is then placed on top of a burner to get the “NGS” up to temperature to start the distillation process.
On the left of the courtyard is their packaging facility – we saw a few guys filling bottles with bourbon, hand-applying labels meant for Swedish distribution, hand-corking the bottles, dipping them in black wax, and putting them upside-down into cups to cool the wax. Even being one of the state’s larger distilleries, most things around here are still hand-crafted.
Off to the right of the courtyard lies Peach Street’s rackhouse. It’s a well-humidified building with the walls & ceiling lined in wood, and where many of their spirits are now aging in barrels. Davy told me that they currently have more than 200 barrels of Colorado Straight Bourbon aging there right now.
This is quite the booze-producing compound! Peach Street didn’t start out at this size, though. When Peach street opened in 2004, Davy was making the spirits and working the tasting room, while co-owner Rory Donovan was selling the spirits.
I had Davy pour me a few samples, and was thoroughly impressed. I keep a bottle of their Colorado Straight Bourbon in my home at all times, and love the richness of the two-year aged whiskey. The grain bill is 60% Sweet Olathe Corn, 20% rye, and 20% two-row barley. I’ve been highly recommending it to all my friends who are looking for a quality bottle of whiskey to share.
The other spirit that stood out to me was the Jackelope and Jenny Pear Gin. They blend their normal gin with a pear eau de vie and the result is a gin infused with serious amounts of pear character. The juniper comes through so you know it’s gin, but the fruitiness of the pear is a great complement to the piny juniper. I remembered on this trip why I like Gin. While there will be lots more gin to sample across Colorado’s 43+ distilleries, Jackelope & Jenny is now my baseline gin in terms of drinkability and creativity.
Davy was busy that Monday, so I bid him adieu and went off to collect Matt so we could continue our busy day. Before I got back to the hotel, I stopped at one of the fruit shacks and bought some early-season Palisade peaches. We noshed on them throughout the rest of our trip – they were perfectly ripe and were a healthful alternative to the plethora of all the junk you can buy in the many gas stations we’d passed by along the way.