Downslope Distilling is a small artisanal producer of spirits located in Centennial, Colorado (SE of Denver). Their primary production is Rum, Whiskey, and Vodka.
I spoke with Andy Causey about Downslope.
Downslope started about 2.5 years ago, with the desire to make craft product. ”There is no funk in a lot of the product out there,” he explained, “You need a little James Brown in your product.” Andy and Matt Causey bring retail and brewing experience to the table, while Distiller Mitch Abate did independent study with most of the Master Distillers in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Currently Downslope has a production capacity of about 25,000 to 30,000 units a year, and they are primarily limited by the amount of warehouse space needed.
The average climate in Colorado has a big effect on the aging, with large daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations. Ambient Colorado conditions are used, and they get a lot of aging characteristics for the time committed, with about equal water and alcohol content lost as aging progresses.
The firm produces whisky, vodka and rum products. The major push of their craft is to have subtlety and complexity. “We’re not trying to take the flavor out, especially with vodka.” Vodka, as a neutral spirit, hits about 190 proof; instead of going for a most neutral vodka, Downslope places focus on the least neutral pole of the range.
The history of whiskey in Colorado is Wild West Whiskey. Whiskey wasn’t branded by distillery, it was branded by the retail outlets, who would buy a barrel and rebottle it. Vintage tax stamps displayed by Downslope back this up- most appear to be applied at the retail level.
Andy and the men have their sights on Gin at the moment. “Vodka is a crowded place, and we are proud of our vodkas, but there are about 10-12 variants of gin and we are looking at small gin production.” Currently Downslope is experimenting with an Old Tom style Gin. Old Tom Gin is a dry, slightly sweet English gin.
Their product’s ingredients, like the product itself, is based on quality. The rum is distilled from dried Maui Cane juice, which retains flavor elements. The whisky uses Maris Otter malted barley sourced from the north of England and south of Scotland. Maris Otter is a fairly new varietal with high starch yield but low bushel per acre harvest. The net result is a more expensive ingredient for a better whisky. Their flavored vodkas have similarly detailed sourced ingredients, with New Mexican dried red chiles and vanilla beans from Tahiti and Madagascar.
Downslope is also committed to training a new generation of quality distillers through courses limited to 12 people. Sold out far in advance, naturally. “There are a lot of people thinking about getting into this. We want to make sure people do this well.”
Andy Causey feels optimistic about craft distillation in this economy. “There is currently an adventurousness in the market and there is also a backlash against corporate product.”
We’re looking foward to more interesting bottlings from the trio.
About $30 at finer stores, found in Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nebraska, New Mexico and New Jersey. Coming soon to Kansas City and Saint Louis. Their website is: www.downslopedistilling.com.
Wine Barrel Aged Rum
Aged six months in Hungarian Tokaj barrels.
A definite wine scent on the nose, similar to grappa. Woody characteristics with strong sandalwood and cinnamon. Light mint on the finish with vanilla flavors. Very different; not your typical rum. I would place this alongside my good Martinique rums on my top shelf.
Double Diamond Whisky
80 proof. Originally aged in large wine barrels and finished in five gallon medium toasted American White Oak Casks. Varying ages based upon flavor before bottling. Average age is 9 months to a year for this bottling.
The Double Diamond whisky is made up primarily of malted barley with a touch of rye. The result is a young unpeated Scotch or Irish Whisky with vanilla, honey, spice and oak. Some floral notes and a creaminess on the palate. I really liked this whisky. Once again, a unique spirit that is quite enjoyable. I would like Downslope to try a longer age on this; the result could be phenomenal.
More information on the distillery is available at http://www.downslopedistilling.com/products.html
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