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Review: Distillery 291 proves whiskey age is sometimes just a number

What we drink: A range of whiskeys from Distillery 291, including two white whiskies.

Where is that from : Based in Colorado Springs, CO, 291 is the brainchild of Michael Myers, a former fashion and beauty photographer from New York City who changed location and profession right after 9/11 (his first whiskey came out of still exactly 10 years later, September 9, 2011). 11, 2011).

Why we drink this: We continually love Colorado whiskey (“Honestly, it’s the altitude” is Myers’ guess about the state’s jurisdiction) and 291 has won several awards, including Best Rye in the World from the World Whiskeys Awards and several Double-Golds at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Last summer, the distillery launched The Whiskarita®, the fifth cocktail to be registered. And he used 291 Fresh, an unaged “Aspen charcoal mellowed” whiskey distilled in a copper pot still and made from a mash of corn, malted rye and malted barley.

The Whiskarita is just the fifth cocktail to get an American trademark

Distillery 291

And 291 doesn’t just have one new-make whiskey – they actually have two (White Dog, made from rye malt mash). And while other distilleries have branched out into new-make products – and 291 won a 2021 World Whiskey Award for theirs – it’s a pretty rare trend.

Part of this reasoning is that most distillers believe that 60-80% of the flavor of your whisk(e)y comes from the cask and maturation process. Fortunately, some brands (especially Waterford) are beginning to focus more on raw materials, terroir and other aspects of the whiskey-making process that occur before aging.

“I wanted to create a spirit that wasn’t used regularly now, since before Prohibition,” says Myers. “And I wanted to make an American white spirit instead of vodka or gin. Around the time I was dating 291, some craft distilleries were producing white dog, and Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam and Buffalo Trace were releasing some of their unaged product…but then there was a lot of bad white whisky. there and it put people off. But we just kept selling it and using it to make cocktails.

I was curious what the newly made product looked like, as well as some of the basic and more experimental 291 products, many of which are finished with toasted aspen staves, even if only for the briefest moments. “Even adding these sticks for just a few hours will add light smoky and spicy notes, and the caramel notes become a bit more maple,” Myers tells us.

How does it taste

291 Fees:
Deliberately designed to replace vodka, rum or tequila in a drink (hence the trademark cocktail), Fresh is 90 proof and made from a mash of corn, malted rye and malted barley. Indeed, it is floral and fruity and very close to a tequila blanco.

291 White Dog: Not exactly UN-aged — this one is aged in an American white oak barrel for less than two weeks. A 101.7 degree spirit made with malted rye and mashed corn, this one is a little peppery, with hints of lemon, anise and strawberry, and also a slightly creamy mouthfeel.

We also got to try the new brand of a four grain rye whiskey and a new brand wheat bourbon; they were wonderfully edgy and sturdier, but alas, not for sale…yet.

Their aged product is also fantastic and lands less on the sweet side for a bourbon; their Barrel Proof, a single-barrel bourbon, is spicy and actually more like a rye; meanwhile, their most award-winning whiskey, Bad Guy, is a four-grain bourbon where each grain seems to grow in importance depending on your sip. It’s a smoother ride but also complex and ever-changing.

Fun fact: Myers actually built this first still from copper photogravure plates that he had used in his photographs.

Where to buy it: Available in 18 states, you can also purchase 291 products here.