In an effort to bring you some new voices on Ottsworld, here is a guest post from writer Sherry Spitsnaugle. I met Sherry at a Denver event and found out that she was a travel writer! So not only does she have a cool name, but she also has a way with words! All opinions, experiences, and photos here are hers. –Sherry
I’m perched at the bar in the classy tasting room of Deviation Distilling, in Denver’s historic Baker neighborhood, gazing at a fine-looking flight of three coffee-inspired whiskeys co-owner Cindi Wiley has just poured for me to sample.
What better way to gear up for National Coffee Day, Sept. 29, than by indulging in the best of two worlds – caffeine and spirits?
My mind is already made up about which is going to be my favorite before I even take a sip – the Americano Whiskey, for no other reason than because an Americano is my daily must-have. Full disclosure – I’m a Starbucks enthusiast (read addict) but I have a soft spot for boutique coffee shops.
Denver’s Deviation Distilling and Copper Door Coffee Roasters have partnered to create three whiskies: Americano Whiskey (a bourbon whiskey paired with Guatemalan coffee beans), Aztec Whiskey (a rye whiskey paired with Ethiopian coffee, Saigon cinnamon, and Madagascar vanilla beans), and Mocha Whiskey (paired with Brazilian coffee and chocolate).
Why Coffee Flavored Whiskey? Why not?
The distillery and coffee shop are neighbors in the Yard, in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District at 900 West First Avenue; a partnership seemed natural.
Hannah Ulbrich, master coffee roaster and owner of Copper Door Coffee Roasters says the idea came about mostly from being neighbors.
Ulbrich knows her coffee and is passionate about her product. She even chairs the U.S. Coffee Roasting Committee.
A Delicious New Line is Born – Barista Spirits
The whiskeys were crafted by the two businesses after a cupping process, in which they smelled, sipped, and rated several coffees to pair with the bourbon. The rest, as they say, is history. An entire delicious line was born and they called it Barista Spirits.
Head distiller and co-owner Dave Gabe along with Bob Wiley, co-owner, and husband in the husband/wife time of Bob and Cindi Wiley, make the magic happen. And, presto: Here I am, ready to savor the results of their hard work.
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I close my eyes, breathe in the fragrance of the bold whiskey, and take that long-anticipated first sip.
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You Had Me at Mocha
The Americano Whiskey is no-nonsense, strong, and robust – exactly the way I like my morning joe. I move on to the next sample and take a sip of the Mocha Whiskey. My eyes light up and I beam at Cindi who is watching to see my reaction. I take another swig. THIS is the one.
The first whiskey is good, but the second is bliss. Mocha Whiskey is my absolute fave, which comes as a surprise. Cindi says that nine out of ten guests who come in for a tasting prefer something different from what they were expecting.
“The mocha really brightens up the rye whiskey,” she explains.
Bob Wiley adds that Deviation partnered with Cultura Chocolate to add cacao shells to the Mocha Whiskey.
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I like learning the specifics, but not as much as I like sipping the warm-in-the-belly lusciousness. The third and final – Aztec Whiskey – is last on my list of favorites, only because I’m not a fan of cinnamon. But, it tastes like Thanksgiving, which is a good thing.
Pro Tip: Deviation does not serve food, but guests can order from nearby Smokin’ Yards Barbecue or even bring their own. Pizza, a charcuterie tray, or a burger and bag of chips are all fine.
Coffee Inspired Whiskey
I am a fan of the description of “coffee-inspired” whiskey. Coffee also inspires me to do things – like get out of bed.
A few tastes in, and I am pondering the fact that these two small businesses have worked together to create this amazing potion of deliciousness.
There’s only one thing left to do: polish off the shot of the good stuff. Cheers!
IF YOU GO – Deviation Distilling
Deviation Distilling is a destination rather than a place you’re going to be strolling by unless, of course, you live in the Baker neighborhood. The cozy cocktail bar is tucked away, and worth any small extra effort it takes to get there. Cindi and Bob Wiley are passionate about their craft and what they do. The husband and wife team excels at not only the product but making guests feel welcome. Tell them I sent you!
Experience the best Denver whiskey bars – go to Whiskey Row in Arvada
How to Buy Barista Spirits Coffee Flavored Whiskey
Deviation Distilling distributes Barista Spirits to some 200 liquor stores throughout Colorado. Look for their signature gin, too.
IF YOU GO – Copper Door Coffee Roasters
Copper Door Coffee Roasters, Denver’s only 100 percent female-owned coffee roaster, has three locations: The Yard on Santa Fe, (near Deviation), Lowry, and Botanic Gardens.
Deviation Distilling is open as follows:
Monday-Thursday, 1 – 9 p.m.; Friday, 1 – 11 p.m.; Saturday, noon – 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon – 6 p.m.
Pro tip: The Copper Door Coffee Roasters in Lowry is located next to Lowry Beer Garden; I met a friend there recently, ordered an afternoon cappuccino and we kicked back in a table tucked away outside. It’s the best place to sit. Exit the side door of the shop, and you’ll find yourself in a shady, plant-filled hideaway, with a few tables placed far apart to meet COVID guidelines.
Follow Copper Door Coffee Roasters on social media to learn about any specials they might offer for National Coffee Day, Sept. 29.
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Meet the Author: Sherry Spitsnaugle, guidebook author, travel writer, wife and dog mom, first expressed her urge to explore at age four when she packed up her little red wagon and took off for an adventure— around the block. Today, she continues to fulfill her travel bug tendencies, exploring and writing about her experiences.