Booze Review

Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

From Roughstock to Stranahan's

Buckle up, Boys and Girls! G-LO and I are taking you on a rip roaring, pedal to the metal road trip through the Rocky Mountains and Big Sky country! Our journey begins in Bozeman, MT where we sample some RoughStock Montana Pure Malt Whisky. Our second stop will be in Kirby, WY for some Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Bourbon. And our last stop is in the Mile High City, i.e. Denver, CO where we ruminate over some Stranahan’s Colorado Whisky. As is usually the case on one of our road trips, we tend to stray off course every so often, so kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride…


Rocky Mountain Whisky Bottle TopsAK: So, when I was a kid on the big summer vacations in the 1967 Plymouth Fury faux wood paneled family station wagon with travel trailer in tow, the Rockies were always a favorite destination. Who knew I’d be going back all these years later for whiskey?!

G-LO: I knew you’d be going back for whiskey.

AK: You can’t go home again but you can go to the Rockies. I always liked Big Sky Country. Glacier National Park. The 406 area code. Let’s get this rodeo rolling and look at Roughstock from Bozeman.

G-LO: Much like Captain Borodin, I have never been to Montana. Or Colorado. Or even Wyoming. I like the name Roughstock.

AK: Go. Take the family. See stars and trees and deer. Choke on fresh air. They don’t have that in your world.  Bozeman. Love that name. Drove through many years ago.

G-LO: I want to see Little Big Horn. Or is it Little Bighorn? Is there a Big Bighorn? That would be enormous!

Roughstock Montana Pure Malt Whisky

AK: Beats me, Custer. There ought to be an Economy Bighorn. This Montana Pure Malt Whiskey is made with Montana barley.  Double distilled.  Just how you like it, Cowboy.

G-LO: This is certainly one paleface of a whisky.

AK: The label says 100% Montana grown and malted barley mash, and water from high elevation snowmelt!! I’m from drought ridden California. I know not of this “snowmelt”. Lightly charred American oak per the bottle.

G-LO: I have snow on my front lawn. I’ll mail you some.

AK: UPS, please. The mail sucks around here.

G-LO: It’s actually not that pale, but it’s also not as dark as a bourbon or Tennessee whiskey.

AK: Smells like it has a bit of a bite but it’s only 45%, Geronimo. My brown cabinets aren’t helping on the color. Everything is brown here.

G-LO: I’m going with Honey colored. Note the capital H.

AK: Thanks, Baby. I smell Missoula, Billings and Helena.  Well, the distant suburbs where the moose and the mule deer play.  And that ain’t a bad thing. I smell Big Sky country where the speed limit is infinity!!  Now that’s a different taste.

G-LO: Never been, so I dunno Missoula from Shinola. Me likey the smell so far. Fresh and fragrant with a minty backbone.

AK: Not crazy at first about the first swishing. But it changes in good way.

G-LO: Now THIS is where the buffalo roam! Tall grass and Cheerios. It has a Rye whisky quality.

AK: Definitely malty and bread-y.

G-LO: A very young one. Or maybe I’m thinking Rye bread. With extra caraway seed. Love that stuff!

AK: Yep. Rye-y without the rye-y sharpness. More like Idaho than Canada.

G-LO: No. Montana. Says so on the label. Or so you wrote.

AK: Right. I was wandering towards the Cascades for a moment there. Pardon the side trip. I was looking for a Stuckey’s for gas and peanut brittle.

G-LO: Hang a left at Albuquerque.

AK: Very short finish. Short like driving north on I-15 to Utah where you hit Arizona for about 3 minutes.

G-LO: Speaking of New Mexico. Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences. I wanna go there.

AK: Truth or Consequences. That’s where they filmed F Troop. Loved that show!

G-LO: Larry Storch? Am I right?  Hmmm. Do I like how this tastes? It is a bit rough, but not THAT rough.

AK: Storch was great. And Ken Berry and Forrest Tucker. And the Hekawi Indian Tribe. “Where the heck are we?”  This whiskey definitely is not rough stock from Rough Stock.

G-LO: The first taste said “canned corn” to me. I like the other version. The Fugawi. I’m a bit of a rough stock.

AK: Indeed you are. It’s a very easy drinking whiskey. The Cavalry would have bought barrels of this.

G-LO: Tis easy drinking. Not much depth though.

AK: Nope. Curious if the other versions are more complex.

G-LO: It tastes young. Youthful. Light on its feet.

AK: Like me many moons ago.

G-LO: It’s pre-Jolie Brad Pitt in “A River Runs Through It”.

AK: Love that movie. Got stuck watching a few weeks ago. Would like to see this whiskey in a heavy char barrel for longer.

G-LO: Lots of herbal-ity. Almost like an Irish whisky to me. Double or triple distilled? Any clue?

AK: Double. Does whiskey go with fly fishing?

G-LO: Sure. Cause it’ll take at least two flasks of whiskey to get me wading in an icy river in pursuit of salmon. Two words: Whole Foods.

AK: First distillery in Montana since Prohibition.

G-LO: Your Honor, may I treat the whisky as hostile?

AK: You may, Counselor.  Approach the bench with two glasses and that flask. Speak up or call your next whiskey, Counselor.

G-LO: Thank you, Your Honor. I would like to go on the record and say that I would love to try a peated version of this.

AK: Peated Montana whiskey. I like that idea, you old grizzly bear.

G-LO: This is like a young Rye whisky blended with some unpeated Connemara. It’s young, vibrant, and kinda grainy tasting. It has potential.

AK: Grainy for sure. Lots of youth. Might need to experiment by blending it with something Peated. And when I say blended, I mean pouring without any idea of what I’m doing.  On to Wyoming?

G-LO: Slow down, Paht’nuh!  Do we like the Montana?

AK: Oops! I’ve got the pedal to the metal like I’m driving on I-90 to Billings for a cup of Joe in an old 4×4 Dodge pickup with the odometer pushing 200k.

G-LO: I’ve never owned a pickup truck. And I’ve never been to Montana. G-LO make sad face now.

AK: Me neither, but if i was driving with no speed limit in Montana, I’d have a pickup with a gun rack.

G-LO: Is there any other way? I think not. Ford F-150. Nuff’ said. Supercharged. Perhaps I said too much.

AK: Right! I can imagine sipping on a Roughstock in a local saloon with a big stuffed buffalo near the front door. Or is it bison? Wonder if the bars have hot bison wings there?

G-LO: Hold the phone! I just pulled a WCO move!

AK: What. Did. You. Do, G-LO?

G-LO: Smelled an emptied glass. Picked up some cocoa powder notes.

AK: Ooooooh! I was getting to that. What do you think? Crushed up Oreos?

G-LO: Really?

AK: Crushed up chocolate something. So light.

G-LO: Wow! We’re on the same frequency.

AK: Now I’m curious how it’ll smell in the morning.

G-LO: Seriously. The empty glass is sooooo cocoa-ish. It’s like a cocoa dusted chocolate truffle.

AK: Wrapper from a candy bar. Just not sure which.

G-LO: Pity none of this came through in the nose or taste of the actual whisky.

AK: Totally true. Zero chocolate.

G-LO: So, basically we like this with reservations. Peat it and keep it in the barrel a little longer.  Shall we gas up in Wyoming before heading to Colorado?

AK: Sure! Ethel…if she’s working.

G-LO: Any back story to share on the Wyoming Whiskey before I nose it?

Wyoming Whiskey

AK: 44% small batch bourbon whiskey per the bottle. Batch 18.  Charred white oak barrels.

G-LO: This is just a touch darker. They make their own or do they source it?

AK: No clue. I like the WW logo. Van Halen-esque, Diamond Dave.  I like shiny objects too.

G-LO: You and Limpd have a lot in common. He’s a sucker for a shiny label and a pretty bottle.

AK: I’m a sucker for Valerie Bertinelli pre-Eddie Van Halen.  This stuff is darker than Roughstock. But a rougher aroma.

G-LO: I wouldn’t say rougher, but it’s definitely completely different.

AK: More medicine-y.

G-LO: I’m getting some fruitiness. Like a Brandy or something.  Spiced apple???

AK: I love Wyoming. Been to Yellowstone a few times and the Grand Tetons.

G-LO: Grand Tetons. I like the sound of that. Very Jane Mansfield.

AK: The cup size of Wyoming is slightly less that Montana’s.

G-LO: Jane Russell then? Mamie Van Doren?

AK: Mamie. How I love you, how I love you…

G-LO: Ha! Definitely an odd fruit thing going on. Spiced apple transitioning to poached pear with a dash of cinnamon and clove.

AK: Pear! Fall flavors.

G-LO: But not over the top.

AK: Nope. Casper, I’m diving into Laramie.

G-LO: Not much burn going on here. Quite light at first.

AK: Wow. Not on the front end. More on the back of the tongue. Kind of harsh.

G-LO: Agreed. It expands. You really think it’s harsh? It heats up in the middle for sure. Cinnamon and poblano pepper. With fruit. Apples and pears.

AK: Much thicker than the Montana. And more oily.

G-LO: A little oily. Much more full flavored. Totally different which is as expected given that they used totally different grain. The finish is pretty big. Little Bighorn in a glass! Though that’s in Montana right?

AK: It is big. More like Old Faithful. Boom!

G-LO: Definitely tastes like a young Bourbon. Any word on the mash bill? You getting some Rye notes in the finish? I got some herbal stuff going on at the end.

AK: “Fields of wheat corn and barley” on the label but no more specifics.

G-LO: Gotcha. I kinda like this. I don’t love it, but like Roughstock, it has potential.

AK: Yes, on the rye. Maybe it’s a Canadian/Continental Divide thing.

G-LO: I like deeper, more intense flavors.  Would make a tasty Old Fashioned.

AK: I agree. I like bigger flavors too. This would be good for cocktails.

G-LO: Imagine how the sugar, bitters, and orange peel would change it. I like the aftertaste.

AK: I could see the father-in-law using it for the daily 4:00 Old Fashioneds. Old Faithful Old Fashioneds! There’s almost a bit of coffee on the end.

G-LO: Lingering Big Red gum notes.

AK: They have Starbucks in Wyoming? Starbucks should add this to the menu there.

G-LO: They probably have Starbucks in Bangalore.

AK: Which is really far from Kirby, WY.

G-LO: It’s a Jackson Hole neighborhood. Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone. They’re trying to keep the property values down.

AK: Jackson Hole Adjacent. I’ll Zillow it.

G-LO: I was gonna say kitty corner, but adjacent works. Meow.

AK: Hello

G-LO: Meow.

AK: “Whoa whoa whoa…” That was supposed to be Tom Jones.

G-LO: “It’s not unusual to be loved, by anyone…”

AK: “Da-da-da-da-da-da…” I expected more from the glass smell.

G-LO: Huh? Oh. The whisky. Sorry. Had Tom Jones on the brain. Meow.

AK: Saw him front row at the Desert Inn. Surprised the Satellite Engineer eons ago.

G-LO: Saw him 20 years ago at the Trocadero in Philly. Had to be in his late ’50s.

AK: Same era. He was great.

G-LO: The dude had moves. Great show!

AK: Plus all of the cliches.

G-LO: Old ladies throwing panties. Not so great.

AK: It’s almost like the glass is clean.

G-LO: Still a touch fruity here. The glass. Not me.

AK: Tough call.

G-LO: Me or the glass?

AK: Yes. Very light whatever is left in there.

G-LO: Again. Me or the glass?

AK: Yes.

G-LO: Smart man. Plead the fifth. Of whiskey! Ha! You did mean the glass! Well played, Sir.  Sweet home Colorado time!

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey

AK: I-20 to I-25 right into downtown Denver we go. Hey, I went to Stranahan’s a few months ago.  Did I ever mention that?

G-LO: GLOater! Didn’t they used to buy the wash from local breweries or something? Are they doing it all in house now?

AK: Yep! Stranahan’s now does it all in house.

G-LO: Boom!

AK: Barley from Coors. Two distillations. Barrels from Kentucky. 4-5 year aging. But NAS.

G-LO: Gotcha! This one is a shade darker than the first two.

AK: I like this nose.

G-LO: Deeper. Richer. More vapory too.

AK: I kinda think there’s more going on here. I’m probably biased after being there.

G-LO: No doubt. I have yet to visit a distillery.

AK: Batch 115 from 11/2011. The distiller handwrites a note on each label with the batch and date. “Livin at Altitude” on this one.

G-LO: Mile High, Baby!

AK: Lots of vanilla. And I loves the vanilla!

G-LO: Interesting. I just got an herbal note for a split second. Fresh oregano or marjoram. Herbs de Provence! Now I want roasted veal and potatoes.

AK: Soup or salad with that, Sir? There is an elegance. Not rough.

G-LO: I’ve had Stranahan’s on several occasions. Probably the old style. Rough but good.

AK: I’ve had it in bars in Denver and my bottle. It’s grown on me.

G-LO: I’m getting some vanilla now. Some cinnamon too. Snickerdoodle! Don’t know why I said that.

AK: Snickerdoodle, yum.

G-LO: I love those cookies.

AK: Love smelling those baking.

G-LO: Cream of tartar is the secret ingredient I think. Whatever that is.

AK: I’m a Torrance High Tartar. No joke.

G-LO: Do I type like I’m laughing? No joke.

AK: Nothing says high school angst like a Mongol tribe.

G-LO: We were the Pirates. Argh! 1985 Catholic League Basketball Champs.

AK: Woohoo! Go Bucco’s. Sorry, it’s a Pittsburgh thing.  You’d be a San Pedro High Pirate here. I know they say Stranahan’s is basically scotch, but I never really get that.

G-LO: I can see the Scotch parallels. Highland?

AK: More highland than anything I guess.  Head Distiller Rob Dietrich isn’t a peat fan.

G-LO: Like a Glenfiddich.

AK: Think he said he was more of Highland Scotch guy.

G-LO: Kaboom! Meow?

AK: Don’t blow up the cat.

G-LO: Nah. Sarah would drive down and kill me. So would my sister and a woman I work with. Crazy cat ladies one and all! Bless their feline loving hearts.

AK: Cat exploding is looked down upon, hence the fall of the Mongol Tartars.

G-LO: What if it were spontaneous?

AK: Oh, that’s fine then, if not still messy.  I ain’t cleaning that up.

G-LO: Oh good! Back to the Highlands. For the record, Denver is REALLY high.

AK: In more ways than one. There was a pot shop around the corner from Stranahan’s.

G-LO: That’s EXACTLY where I was headed. Well done!

AK: Interesting smelling part of town with a distillery and pot shops. This tastes almost… Bourbon-ish.

G-LO: Now I got thyme! Haven’t tasted yet. This is much different than I remember.  The old Stranahan’s was more Bourbon like.

AK: I like the after burn on this hooch.

G-LO: It’s tasty. Interesting mix of flavors. Not Bourbon-y to me.  Again, I’m going back to Glenfiddich or maybe Balvenie.  Nutty? Am I getting nutty? The whisky. Not me.

AK: Yes you are, and I get it too.

G-LO: Hazelnuts I think.

AK: HAZELNUTS! It was really evident in Colorado for some reason.  That’s what was prevalent there. Not getting it so much now.

G-LO: I LOVE hazelnuts! Witch Hazel is nice as an after shave.

AK: Thought that was one of the nuns at your high school

G-LO: Nah. There was only one nun. Sister Leah. Taught biology. She was funny.

AK: A funny nun. Sounds like the beginning of a short story. Maybe she drank whisky.

G-LO: All boys school. Had to be funny.

AK: No doubt.

G-LO: This stuff is tasty. Much better than I remember. Still not up there with my favorite Single Malts, but closing the gap.

AK: I go back and for forth on it, but generally like it.

G-LO: FYI, Montana is moving towards Hershey’s Milk Chocolate. Don Draper would approve.

AK: I’d approve. Funny. I’m back on MT too. So much lighter. Way more grassy now. I could see some grazing on the range with this.

G-LO: Is it legal there?

AK: Just not at night. Wolves.

G-LO: Deer? Antelope?

AK: They play there. It’s like drinking hay or alfalfa, Darla.

G-LO: Why would anyone drink hay?

AK: Good point.

G-LO: That like Malt-O-Meal?

AK: Ha! I had that for breakfast!

G-LO: Meow.

AK: Ever see colors when you smell whisky? I smell green with this.  Must be the grassyness.

G-LO: Smell Stranahans!  Tobacco and bittersweet chocolate!

AK: Yep!

G-LO: Wacky tabacky!

AK: The chocolate thing is always weird to me. Where does it come from?

G-LO: No clue! Must be a chemistry thing. Aunt Esther?

AK: Aunt Esther!

G-LO: Talk about a catalyst.

AK: Going back to the Roughstock is freaky. The grass thing is intoxicating. My dad and uncle had dichondra lawns. That was the best to lay down on and smell. And then eat the pedals.

G-LO: Hippie.

AK: Right on. Right arm. Farm out.

G-LO: Righteous!

AK: The Roughstock might be good just to smell.

G-LO: Wyoming and Stranahan were the top two for sure.

AK: Yep. But I like the Montana smell. Wonder if anyone has distilled hay.

G-LO: No clue. Can it be done?

AK: Anything organic can be distilled. After fermenting.

G-LO: Well, then get cracking, Methuselah! Or should I say, get distilling?

AK: I’ll start cutting the fields tomorrow, Mr. Haney.

G-LO: Closing arguments, Counselor?

AK: Well, we did hit my favorite mountain range hard. I’m sure you could do a Sierra Nevada about now. But I like the Stranahan’s and the Wyoming Whisky. More my style. But that grassy Montana is fascinating to me. If I had a lawnmower, I’d rev it up right now and do some night mowing.

G-LO: I concur. Montana was interesting, but Wyoming and Stranahan’s were better. Now I gotta get my butt on a plane to see the Rocky Mountains up close and personal.

AK: They are very tall.

G-LO: Or perhaps we are very short. Ok. Not very short. Just short.

AK: On a geological scale, we are very short. But full of thermal heat.

G-LO: Es verdad. Short fuse.

AK: You’d do well in the in the mud pots of Yellowstone.

G-LO: Mud? Sounds icky. Do they smell like rotten eggs?

AK: Sulphur. I love it actually. All the thermal stuff is very sulfur-y.

G-LO: Yep. Rotten eggs.

AK: Not great long term but I like it short term. Sunny side up.

G-LO: Dippy eggs! Love it!

5 replies »

  1. Sounds like a good sampling of Rocky Mountain high test. A few too many meows for my taste (allergic to cats and they are a little hard to cook). But, then again, where else can you cram Corporal Agarn, Tom Jones, Aunt Esther and Don Draper into a single post.

    Liked by 1 person

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