First Snowflake release- Hungarian white oak wine cask finish

Posted: 01/10/09

The first Snowflake special edition goes on sale Monday 1/12/09, a Hungarian white oak cask finish.  There is extremely limited amount available, so stop in and buy a bottle soon.  When it is gone , it is gone.

Listening to: Charlie Parker

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Its a date!

Posted: 02/09/09

I am often asked about the “distilled on date” on the label of a bottle of Stranhan’s.  When I set out to bottle a batch of whiskey I hand select 12 barrels of whiskey varying in age from 2 years to 5 years old and marry them together.  The cask strength whiskey is then cut down to exactly 94 proof using Eldoroado Springs water.  The date we write on the label will generally be the youngest barrel in the batch.

Cheers Jake

Listening to: Guy Clark

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Posted: 04/19/09

4/8/09 was 5 years to the day that I laid down our first barrel of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.  To commemorate this occasion John Hinkenlooper, Mayor of Denver attended a ceremony at the distillery and hammered in the bung on our 1000th barrel.  On a fun note, 1000 barrels makes 5280 gallons of whiskey, and as you might know denver is exactly 5280 feet above sea level.  The day after sealing our 1000th barrel we bottled our 100,000th bottle of Stranahan’s.  Wow time flies when your having fun, and we are just getting started.  Thank you all for supporting us in the past and we look forward to seeing you in the future.

Listening to: Frank Sinatra

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Killing Frost

Posted: 10/21/09

Fall has fallen and winter is peeking around the corner.  The mornings are crisp and the evenings a deep  clear mountain cold.  Leaves are falling and I can smell the brats and peppers on the grill and hear the roar of the football game.  Fall in Colorado is wonderful, a drive through the mountains makes you wonder how any one made it past the beauty of the Rocky Mountains on their way west.  Seas of brilliant golden shimmering aspens, the scattered red burst of a scrub oak and endless green spans of Colorado pine as far as the eye can see.  The vista is beautiful patchwork of raging color broken only by the granite mountain sides and the heart wrenching brown of the beetle kill pine.  Down the hill in Denver, (after a surprise weekend of 80 degree weather), the killing frost has taken even the most hardy leaf in the garden.  The canned tomatoes and spicy dill pickles are on the shelf, and the hard squash are hiding in a cool dark place downstairs.  Here at the distillery the dust is settling from the move.  The wash fermenters are bubbling away, the stills never go cold, production is increasing and the barrels are stacking up.  We are making about 10 barrels a week right now, but I have my sights set on 18 a week.  We are bottling a lot gearing up for the end of year rush.  Tours have been busy, so we have established a regular tour schedule of Monday, Wed, Fri, and Saturday at 11, 1, 3, 5.  (If you are interested in going on a tour it is best to make an appointment by emailing tours @ Stranahans .com).  The Rackhouse restaurant next door should be open by the end of the week, and not a moment too soon, I dont think the lads cant stomach another fast food burger.  So as I plunge in to another beautiful Colorado winter, I invite you to stoak the fireplace with another piece of aspen, pour yourself a glass of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey and read a good book.  I am reading “Spice- The History of Temptation” by Jack Turner.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Long time no see” or “The quiet before the storm”

Posted: 07/07/09

It has been a while since I last took fingers to keyboard, but I have not been writing for lack of motivation or absence of news but rather because I have been busier than a one legged man at an ass kicking contest.
Anyone reading this blog knows that Stranahan’s has been growing over the last few years.  From hard earned shelf to hard earned shelf we have been slowly acquiring new fans and expanding our Colorado maverick spirit into 34 states and 2 other countries.  Recently there came the time that full barrels were touching all 4 walls of the rack house, the stills never went cold and our wash demands were out-stripping what we could contract.  We had to make a decision.  We were considering purchasing some brewing equipment to do our wash production in house.  We had heard of some brewing equipment that had been sitting dormant for years in an abandon building in central Denver.  We all piled in to Jess’ big red Ford F150 and headed out to an address in the warehouse district behind the Baker neighborhood.  When we arrived I recognized the building as the old Heavenly Daze brewery.  The Heavenly Daze was a brewpub from the golden age of microbreweries that had fallen by the wayside due to poor management and industry wide contractions.  As we opened the door and fumbled around by flashlight for a breaker box we didn’t know what to expect.  A click of the breaker and fluorescent lights shuttered to life, I felt a bit like an archaeologist .  There before us, under a thick layer of dust, like a kings treasure, sat and entire 30bbl brew house.  Mash ton, kettle, 3 fermenters, hot liquor, cold liquor, a row of bright tanks and just about everything we needed to kick our production into high gear.  We could not wait to rip all that equipment out and move it to our distillery.  As we left in a cloud of excited conversation we noticed a banner on the side of the building.  “FOR SALE”.  It occurred to Jess, why move the mountain to Mohammad?  We had planned on purchasing a building within the next X years anyway, why not take a run at this one.  We re-entered the building with new eyes.  We were looking at it as a possible distillery and not as storage building full of dust and junk.  A few more breaker boxes and a few stubbed toes later we were looking at 60,000 square foot of potential.  A mirage of brew house, still house, rack house twinkled before us in the ether.  This was to be our new home.  Jess set to work, in the relentless way only he can, figuring out how we could afford this jewel.  I went back to Blake Street and went right to the stills, making whiskey with a lump in my throat.  8 months later, the lawyers were richer, the brokers were popping champagne and Stranahan’s was a lot poorer but we had a home.
There was little time for us to celebrate, I assembled the distillers and gave them a speech I thought Patton would envy and within the 5 weeks we had totally disassembled the Blake street location and had it assembled at Kalamath street.  (I make it sound harder than it was, it was really pretty turn key… all the brew house needed a cleaning, it was complete and operable, the steam pipes for the stills were already there- it was really more like a plug-n-play than moving.)  In just over a month, the fermenters were in a primordial bubble and the stills were groaning in that magical way that only a stillman hears.  We were back in business.
That being said, we are far from being open to the public.  We are still contending with the damage of a neglected building.  Every square inch needs a scrubbing and at least one coat of paint.  The outside of the building is adorned with a highly questionable mural in addition to years of graffiti that needs to be dealt with. We ask for your patience as we chip away at the iceberg of petty maintenance needed and we will be open for tours as soon as possible.  The new distillery also houses a bar restaurant.  Having our hands full with the expansion we have leased the pub to a local restaurateur and he hopes to be up and running by September.  Even though the restaurant is a separate company and has separate owners it will still feature regular Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey as well as some of its more rare incarnations.  If you would like to join us in the celebration of our new building and this new challenge we are undertaking, find the most rare glass in the house and pour yourself a dram of what used to be only a dream and breathe deep the the spirit of Colorado.

Cheers Jake

Listening to:  Buck Owens

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Donner, on Blitzen, online shopping

Posted: 11/30/09

Well the turkey is dead and the goose is getting nervous. The madness of “Black Friday” is over and I managed to not leave the house at all until Saturday.  It was not hard to hole up with left over Turkey, stuffing and numerous pies covering every surface in my house.  I am not a fan of fighting crowds to save a few bucks on a holiday gift so you can imagine how excited I was to see that our SCW online shop is finally up and running.  Now from the comfort of your living room you can purchase the latest Stranahan’s gear and have it shipped right to your door, you can even pay with paypal.  My kinda shopping.  Ill leave the stampedes and fist fights over sweater to the pros.  I will pop a cork, crack some ice, and right click my way through the holidays.  See you in January

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

General Update…..

Posted: 12/01/09

It has recently been brought to my attention that you guys “out there”, need a bit of updating on the goings on around here.

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is all moved in to our new location at 200 S Kalamath St Denver Co 80223, we are up and running, in full production making 10 barrels a week.  That is 4 more barrels than we were able to make at our Blake Street location.  I am aiming at 18 barrels a week by early next year.  We are able to increase production at this location due to internalizing fermentation and increasing staff.  In the beginning we had contracted different micro breweries to ferment our secret wash recipe that we would distill.  In those early days we could not afford a brewhouse and the brewers required to keep us in wash, so we outsourced wash production, first to the Flying Dog brewery, (until they moved out of Colorado) and then with the wonderful Oskar Blues brewery.  After a few years, we established our name in the industry and were able to borrow what we needed to own and operate our own brew house dedicated to our unique wash recipe.  Today Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is totally in house, from grain to bottle.  We have always been 100% Rocky Mountain malted barley, however our new buying power allowed us to make sure that 80% of that malt comes form within Colorado.

We are still bottling everything by hand utilizing volunteer bottling crews and and handwriting every label.  I can see the “handwritten days” coming to an end at some point.  My massage therapist is giving me hell about writing so many labels- I am getting carpal tunnel syndrome.  But for now the hand written label continues.

For the holidays we have finally opened the online SCW store for merchandise.  I have released a limited number of THE SNOWFLAKE series for sale only out of our gift shop at the distillery (not online).  I guess I will make a separate entry about THE SNOWFLAKE series Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, there is so much to tell.

The Rackhouse pub is open and serving food and drink every day of the week, a great place to have a bite before or after a tour of the new distillery.  Tours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and 11a, 1p, 3p, 5p.  Reservations can be made at

Please make a reservation and come down and check out our new location, happy holidays.


Listening to: Mississippi John Hurt

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Listening to…….

Posted: 02/24/10

Here at Stranahan’s we love good music almost as much as we love good whiskey, but you already knew that.  We are proud to announce that Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey will be sponsoring the “Mile Hi-Fidelity stage” at South by Southwest this year in Austin.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hungarian White Oak Snowflake Release

Posted: 03/10/10

When you go to bed in Colorado you never know what you will wake up to. It could have dumped big fat dry snow all night and there are 4 foot drifts up against your front door. There could be a light even dusting of fine snow like a few shakes from a flour sifter all over the landscape. You might wake up to a spring-like morning as I did this morning…I wore shorts to work! One thing for sure- whatever it is like outside, it wont last long. Today I announce the release of a very special SNOWFLAKE series Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. This snowflake is the single barrel #741 with additional maturation in a spent Hungarian white oak cask. Barrel #741 aged 2 years and 2 months in new American White oak, then transferred into a spent Hungarian white oak barrel that once to house a blended red wine form Sonoma Ca. The interplay of the American white oak and the Hungarian white oak is stunning. The red wine haunts the whiskey more than inhabits it.  A truly remarkable whiskey, I will admit I have a crush on this whiskey. Now for the bad news, there is only 156 bottles of this gem. The Hungarian White Oak Cask Finish available only at the distillery for the price of $75, and like that light dusting of morning snow, when it is gone it is gone.

-Jake Norris

Tasting notes :

Nose, Neat: Rich and deep; a mellow and appetizing nose. Smooth citrus, more of a grapefruit. Damp ancient oak rafters; sitting on a hay bale in an antique barn, in the rain.

Palate, Neat: The most fleeting caramel before roasted malt swells to fill the senses; the vanilla is a welcome afterthought. Fabulous mouth feel.

Finish, neat: Again, smooth; long, and stately. This whiskey comes across as very old. Aged citrus, mellow and gentle. Chocolate on a shortbread cookie, or maybe a graham cracker.

Nose, Dilute: A mistiness opens up, the whiskey seems to age. Creamed corn. Smells like one could could take a nice big bite of this whiskey. Underneath the wet grain, a hidden chocolate note…

Palate, Dilute: glorious mouth feel, and the chocolate comes out of hiding! The mouth feel and chocolate together remind me of chocolate pudding. This boggles..!

Finish, Dilute: Orange/chocolate. Touch of vanilla. Long, and wet. Gooey almost.

Listening to T-Bone Burnett

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Snow already?

Posted: 09/14/10

Fall is in the air.  The trees are barely starting turn, the nights are cooling off, but the days are still warm.  This is a perfect time to announce the release of the new Triple Wood Snowflake.   The Triple Wood Snowflake will go on sale at the distillery only Wednesday September 15th 12:00 noon for $85.  There are only about 130 bottles of this special whiskey made.  It is strictly first come fisrt serve, and when it is gone it is gone

The Triple Wood Snowflake spent its first 2 years in a heavily charred new american white oak barrel. When the flavor profile was right I transferred it into a used Hungarian white oak cask that had previously housed a Chardonnay form Sonoma California. Over the course of months the tannins form the hungarian white oak went to work in harmony with the white wine that had soaked into the wood and created a massive layer of rich delicate flavors on top of the Stranahan’s foundation. To round out and mellow the new tannins and flavors, I moved the whiskey back into a used Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey cask. The time spent back in the worn american white oak gently rounded the edges of the 2 complimenting oaks creating a complex, rich, harmony of flavors. This one is for savoring.

Tasting Notes:

Full strength:
Nose: Big fruit and spice right off the bat. The woody smell of an apple cider press, bartlett pear, green apple and melon. As the nose blooms, spices manifest in a cinnamon and mineral wisp, light brown sugar, dates, pie crust, Colorado wild flower honey. With ones eyes closed you could easily imagine a forest in autumn, rich musty aromas playing with bright cool notes of turning leaves and the promise of snow.
Palate: The first sip brings rich dark honey, spice, laced with strong floral notes, flavors of green apple and ripe cherry. As the whiskey settles into the palate the spice resonates with heat, white pepper and chilies(?), molasses, marduro tobacco soars in the mouth. These flavors somehow remind me of a cabin in the woods. The finish is extremely long, black grape, spice, wood, coco and coffee. Bright green apple, possibly lychee fruit? Tons of butter, leaves me tasting a biscuit buttered and slathered in pear jam.

Nose: With a drop of water the Chardonnay really shows up. Honey, butter, toasty, coco, floral, mineral. I almost pick up pancakes?
Palate: Cantaloupe, honey, wedding cake frosting. Floral bright notes, mango, lychee, melon, The spice remains- sweet white pepper. Again reminds me of the woods. Banana, chilies, biscuit, wheat bread, tobacco. Lots going on. Finish is stone fruit, mineral, black tea, buttered toast and peppery tobacco. The whiskey maintains a heat throughout the entire experience with out being unpleasant.

As you let the glass sit and open up, the sweetness grows and grows. What a finish, complex and big, wisps of campfire and coffee. Over all this whiskey can’t help but remind me of autumn, the last fleeting days in the forest before winter reclaims what is hers. I think I’ll have another.

Cheers Jake

Listening to: Guy Clark

Remember, this is first come first serve, we will not hold a bottle for you and we can not sell before 12:00pm Wed afternoon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment