Holy honey goodness. Look, Colorado, we need to have a talk. I’ve been right and wrong – as much as anyone – throughout my life. But I was positive, self assured, unrepentantly sure that honey and whiskey was garbage. There. I said it. I’ve always thought whiskey was whiskey and it should just be whiskey. Jack Daniels dropped that Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey in 2011 and I tried it, spat it out, poured me a neat glass of Bulleit Rye and decided that it was the worst idea ever.
In fact, ladies and other whiskey lovers, I was wrong. I’m saying it again because I never felt more wrong about a drink in my life. I was at The Whiskey Extravaganza a few weeks ago (check it out, great event), and I came across a local favorite, Spirit Hound Distillery. I looked around, I checked it out, and I found one bottle I hadn’t already sipped from.
Colorado Honey Whisky. That’s right: Spirit Hound’s extraordinary whiskey, true straight whisky finished in aged honey barrels from the good folks at Bee Squared Apiaries in Berthoud.
I sipped. I supped.
I swished. I swallowed.
This, friends of Uisce beatha, drinkers of the water of life, is what a honeyed whiskey should be. They have a unique process during which raw honey is aged in spent whisky barrels for 100 days. Each honey-filled barrel is rotated daily to maximize absorption of whisky and oak essence, producing a very limited release Whisky Barrel Aged Honey (I need to try this, too). The emptied honey barrel then returns to Spirit Hound, where it is filled with a finished (2 year old) whisky and aged for three additional months.
“Finishing our straight malt whisky in used honey barrels is a natural way for us to accentuate the honey notes that we get in our whisky normally,” said Craig Engelhorn, head distiller and mad scientist at Spirit Hound. “We get amplified flavors and enjoyable honey characters without being overly sweet.”
And now I’m off to satisfy my sunshine sipping needs with a bottle of this goodness.