By: Doug Usher

When you hear the word “craft” in Fort Collins, your first thought is probably “beer.” But there’s another craft scene on the rise in town, one with a higher proof and a longer shelf life. The craft distilling scene has been steadily growing over the last couple of years in Northern Colorado.

While still small compared to most local craft breweries, these libation creators are nonetheless producing some unique and decidedly local beverages worth exploring. There are unique challenges inherent in the distilling scene, mainly the fact that many spirits need time to age before they can be released. This translates into higher costs than what many casual buyers might be used to, but is worth the exchange for a unique, hand-crafted product that often is unlike anything else on the market. Like the craft beer scene, the diversity of offerings is broad and constantly evolving.

Feisty Spirits was the first to open their doors in Fort Collins. Most well known for their various whiskey offerings, in truth they offer more than 30 different spirits in their tasting room, including beer schnapps, brandies, and a large selection of whiskeys. I recommend visiting their tasting room for a flight, so you can sample a range. The staff gets particular enjoyment from educating guests about the distilling process and their products, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and try things outside your comfort zone. Whether you choose a Master Thief beer schnapps or their cask strength Feisty Molly, the experts on hand will help you navigate their list.

One of the newer spots in town, Mobb Mountain Distillers, currently has two offerings, a whiskey and a gin. What makes them unique is that both are made with 100% rye, which gives them a full bodied, smoky flavor. Their welcoming tasting room will remind you of a little cabin in the woods. A list of unique cocktails is available, each designed to highlight their spirits’ rich flavors. With spring around the corner, their Gin & Juice is a refreshing option to enjoy on their patio.

CopperMuse’s location on College Ave. has made them one of the most visible distilleries in town, and their products live up to the location. Focused primarily on vodka and rum, their cocktail list is massive and includes a variety of infused vodkas as well. It’s hard to beat sitting on their sunny patio with a cocktail and a snack or two from their kitchen while you take in the sounds and sights of Old Town.

Old Town Distilling may have moved from their Linden Street tasting room, but their products are still available at many Northern Colorado liquor stores. They have a broad offering of organic spirits, which provide a fantastic base for your home cocktail creations. And Elevation 5003 provides Midtown with a craft distillery all their own. Their products can also be found at restaurants, bars, and liquor stores around town, as can Feisty’s and CopperMuse’s.

The craft spirits scene is still in its infancy in Fort Collins, but there is no doubt it’s an industry on the rise. I’m certain we will see more producers join the scene in the near future, adding more hand-crafted offerings to the mix. Local distillers describe the market as being “collaboratively competitive” and “an exciting opportunity for growth.” So grab a friend, grab your bikes, and go explore the other side of Fort Collins craft.

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