“I will have your favorite local beer?” This is my standard order at a bar in a new city or country. The alcohol produces by a region can show the flavor and flair of the surrounding area. A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a mojito. I noted that the bartender poured rum from a brand I had never seen before. He set my drink in front of me. I tasted it. It was fantastic. It had a great balance of mint and lime with a slight hint of deeper flavors. It tasted very different than mojitos made with Bacardi. ‘What rum did you use?” I asked the bartender.
CopperMuse Distillery was the used in my mojito. It is a relatively new distillery in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was opened in April 2014. It was founded by Jason Hevelone and his wife. Both engineers from the local Colorado State University,where they dreamed about starting a brewery. Jason, an avid homebrewer, had taken a class from the legendary Doug Odell, the founder of Odell Brewing Company. In 2011, Jason discovered craft spirits and the ideal for CopperMuse began.
Currently for commercial sales, CopperMuse offers classic vodka, black vodka, silver rum, and golden rum. The in-house tasting room has a wide collection of in-house vodka and rum infusions and liquors. They are in the process of gaining permission to sell bottles of infusions and liquors. They are in the process of producing whiskey.
They offer free tours of the distillery. It needs to be booked in advance through their website. The tour is limited to 10 people and takes place on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Jason does most of the tours himself.
I arrived at CopperMuse and am greeted by one of the bartenders. I am seated at a table and handed a menu with their craft cocktails and small tasting menu. There is one page for the vodka drinks and one for the rum drinks. There is not a brand name in sight. Most of the ingredients such as bitters and infusions are made in-house. The cola and ginger beer are from other small local producers in Colorado.
The drink collection is impressive. It all sounds amazing. i looked over the list of infusions and liqueurs. One liqueur catches my eye. It’s the allspice liqueur. I am a huge fan of allspice. I was sold, I wanted a craft cocktail that contained this liqueur to drink on my tour. I narrowed my choices down the “Headless Horseman” made of Gold Rum, allspice liqueur, house-made pumpkin soda, ginger beer or the “Pamona” made of Gold Rum, allspice, liqueur, organic apple juice, lemon juice, cinnamon simple syrup and ginger beer. In the end, my love of pumpkin won out and I order the Headless Horseman. My drink arrived as the tour started. The Headless Horseman was like pumpkin pie with a kick of rum.
We were lead out of the tasting room to the distillery. The distillery has two rooms, the main production floor with the brew kettle, still, and fermentation tank. Jason gives an overview of his process and the grains he uses to make his rum and vodka. The process is similar for both. Using the brew kettle, hot water, and sugar are mixed; sugar cane and blackstrap molasses for rum. The mixture is transferred to the fermentation tank and yeast is added. fermentation times vary but after fermentation, the mixture is transferred to the still and brought to a boil.
The distillation process is an important step. The first 15% or so is made of the heads, basically the poisonous parts that make you go blind. Then comes the hearts, the clear liquid that is the drinkable spirit. The last bit distilled is the foul-smelling tails. Jason has jars of each that you can smell.
CopperMuse does all their own bottling. They are still applying labels by hand. They have a monthly bottling night where volunteers come and help them bottle the liquor in exchange for some samples. If you are lucky to be in town and score one of these spots it’s a fun night out.
After the tour, I order the bacon wrapped scallops with a maple reduction with a taster flight of half-shots. I wanted to try more, but I was by myself and having to drive home and didn’t want to be there all night.
The bacon wrapped scallops were perfectly cooked. The plating was very playful and fitting for the hand-crafted environment. The saltiness of the bacon paired very nicely the sweet maple reduction.
For my flight of shots, I ordered the pineapple rum infusion, bacon vodka infusion, vanilla infusion with a dash of house amaretto, and the allspice liqueur.
Pineapple Rum Infusion
Made from the in-house rum with fresh pineapple, the tropical citric flavors are outstanding. It’s like drinking an actual pineapple soaked in rum.
Bacon Vodka Infusion
I order this because it was bacon. The shot is strong on flavor. It does taste like a smoked piece of bacon that have been condensed into the vodka.
Vanilla Vodka Infusion
I am a huge fan of vanilla vodka mixed with sodas. I wanted to try their version of my favorite vodka infusion. At the recommendation of the bartender, I added a dash of house amaretto to the shot. The slightly sweet flavor of the vanilla is enhanced by the amaretto. The infusions are on sale yet so I couldn’t pick-up a bottle yet.
I loved my Headless Horseman drink. I couldn’t wait to try the allspice liqueur by itself. It didn’t disappoint. I could taste all the different flavors that make up allspice and it had a spicy kit to finish. They aren’t sure when the liqueurs will be available by the bottle, but I can’t wait.
Tour Cost: Free (but book in advance)
Food Cost: Under $15.00
Average Cocktail: $8.00
Shots: $3.00 to $4.00
If you are in Fort Collins, make time to check out CopperMuse Distillery.
I paid for these drinks and food myself. I was not given any free products or samples in exchange for this post.