Bad Guy, Bad Guy, Watcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?
Admittedly, writing about bourbon doesn’t suck. It’s a little like golf: A bad day on the golf course is better than a good day in the office. And with Father Winter finally upon us, it’s BOURBON DRINKING WEATHER! Yay!
One of the great things about the bourbon revival of late is that more and more bourbon is being made outside of Kentucky and a good bit of it is being made in Colorado. Hey, that Rocky Mountain water isn’t just for beer. But, that’s not what Michael Myers, owner and distiller of 291 Colorado Whiskey, was thinking when he moved to Colorado Springs after 9/11 to start a new career. Besides, what the hell does a high-end fashion and beauty photographer know about making bourbon? As it turns out, a lot.
Myers got the idea to make spirits after reading an article by Steven Goss, maker of Hendrick’s Gin. After talking with an old friend, Mike Bristol of Bristol Beer, Myers set out to make whiskey. But who has $50,000 for a copper still? Going back to his photog days, he made his first still out of photographer copper plates. A mere 45 gallons but it was a start. His second 300-gallon still soon followed and today 291 Colorado makes 11 different whiskeys.
I first met Michael at the Breckenridge Bourbon and Bacon Festival in August (mark your calendars—it’s the last weekend in August). Needless to say, I was less than . . . well, sober. Not entirely intoxicated, I was able to recall our conversation about a special bourbon 291 would be releasing soon. Not one to shy away from tasting bourbon, I offered to taste it when it was ready—I’m generous that way.
What makes Bad Guy a really good whiskey? Michael says the 59% corn is mixed with malted wheat, which makes up 29% of the mash with malted rye and malted barley rounding out the rest. What does this give you? A damn good whiskey for one thing. The taste—complex. And one of the few four grain bourbons out there (Law’s and Hudson’s are two others.)
Using malted grains, particularly malted wheat, softens the bourbon on the front end of the tongue but lets the heat still come through on the finish. Yum!
“This 119% proof brown beauty went through a few changes as I tasted in my usual way. All good changes too. It’s like it has something for everyone in one bottle.”
Bad Guy 291 Colorado Bourbon Tasting Notes
|Neat||Cinnamon, pepper, caramel. A lot of heat up front, smooth mid-palate.|
|Drop of water||More caramel aroma comes through, still a lot of heat.|
|One ice cube||Mellow with a bite, quite enjoyable, more apple notes come out|
|Manhattan*||Brilliant! One of the few bourbons to stand up to Carpano Antica vermouth. Shows a little bit of vanilla. Expertly made by Mercantile bartender.|
*All Manhattans tried for the Bourbon Girl article are made with Carpano Antica vermouth, stirred, served up. With—what else?—luxardo cherries.
Michael wanted to bring a bit of the old west to his whiskey and he does that with some stylish elements. The lettering on the label is an old technique of letter-pressed lettering and there’s a cage on Bad Guy, not something you typically see on bourbon.
A sentimental distiller, Myers started the first batch of 291 Whiskey on 9/11/11—to make for a happier memory. Since then, eleven whiskey babies were born and numerous awards have been appropriately bestowed upon this micro distiller.
Here’s the thing: 291 Colorado Whiskey is only distributed in Colorado, but they don’t make palettes of it like their brethren back South. So if you’re looking for a unique gift for your bourbon-loving friends, drop the $100 on a bottle of Bad Guy, wrap it, and gift it. You will have a friend for life! It’s damn good bourbon.