Stills in the Hills 2017

Gilpin County Isn’t the Only Thing Aging Around Here…

By David Josselyn

The fifth annual Stills in the Hills event rocked Central City on Saturday, June 24, 2017, drawing large crowds of thirsty folks looking to sample alcoholic indulgences. It was a partially sunny day that unusually stayed rain-free, although a cool breeze chilled some without sleeves, making perfect weather to hang out with friends while sipping locally distilled spirits from 29 distilleries. This event, spearheaded by the Business Improvement District and now in conjunction with Main Street Central City, has been gaining popularity over the years and is now in ticket-sale competition with similar events across the state. Inspired by the popularity of craft brewing, craft distilling was the natural next step as the public continues to thirst for uniquely crafted local products. Since craft distilling is perched to become as popular as craft brewing, it is important to know the difference between the various spirits.


Distilling boils down to changing the physical property of a liquid into a gas or vapor, and then back into liquid form. Brewing, by contrast, allows the fermentation of plant sugars to change the chemical properties of the liquids. Both methods use some sort of fermentation, but distilled liquids are typically aged much longer in containers that help flavor the contents.


The following is a list of common distilled beverages and their core ingredients. Vodka – rye and wheat or potatoes. Gin – malt flavored with juniper berries. Whiskey – barley or rye. Bourbon – malt, rye and at least 51 percent corn. Rum – molasses aged in oak barrels. Absinthe – flowers, leaves of wormwood, and anise or fennel. Moonshine – usually whiskey or rum made in secret and having high alcoholic content. Brandy – distillation of wine or fruit juice. Liqueur – any distilled spirit that is also flavored with sugary foods such as fruits.

The Distilleries

Craft distillers may start with the basics mentioned above, but they are in the game because of a passion to create a drink uniquely different while maintaining high quality. Some of the more unusual products used among the distillers at this year’s event are ginger, kolsch beer, cilantro, coffee beans, bacon fat, bacon without the fat, cardamom, quinoa, violet petals, Szechuan peppercorns, elderberries, rhubarb, pumpkins, and genepi flowers.

The distilleries from around the state at the event were: 291 Colorado Whiskey, Altitude Spirits, Art of the Spirits, Bear Creek Distillery, Black Canyon Distillery, Bouck Brothers Distilling, Breckenridge Distillery, Cockpit Craft Distillery, Copper Muse Distillery, Covodkaco, Devil’s Head Distillery, Downslope Distilling, Elwood Distilling Company, Feisty Spirits Distillery, Golden Moon Distillery, J and L Distilling Company, Mad March Hare, Mile High Spirits, Mobb Mountain Distillers, Mystic Mountain Distillery, Old Town Distilling Company, Rising Sun Distillery, Smokin’ Mint, Spirit Hound Distillers, State 38 Distilling, Vapor Distillery, Wood’s High Mountain Distillery, Rocker Spirits, and Squeal Rum.

Looking Ahead

Central City has several other summer events to look forward to including the Beat the Heat Wing Fest on July 22, the Great Central City Beer Fest following the 29th Annual Cemetery Crawl on August 26, and the Hot Rod Hill Climb on the weekend of September 15.

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