It's probably the most epic souvenir you can take home.

Ski season may have ended at Vail, but summer hiking is just around the corner. And if we’re all being honest with ourselves, the very best part of any outdoor mountain activity is the après, amirite?

What if you could take home a little of that après feeling and enjoy it all year long? 

At 10th Mountain Distillery, you can. 

For the last two and a half years, in-the-know locals and tourists have been barrel-aging their own batches of bourbon and rye at 10th Mountain Distillery in downtown Vail.  

Stop in for a drink or a taste, or get straight to the point and fill out a form to make your own. Choose a barrel size of five, 10, 30, or 53 gallons, then pick the whiskey you’d like your barrel to age: bourbon or rye. (Or a blend of both, as a few adventurous customers have tried.) Then, wait. Your whiskey will age in the good company of the three to four other new barrels 10th Mountain distills per week. You’re free to visit it any time you’d like, and – most importantly – sample it as often as you like. 

“People who are into whiskey and bourbon have loved being part of the process,” explains owner Ryan Thompson. “We’ve got locals from Colorado who are just really into the fact that we’re local, and like they can make their own local Colorado whiskey right here. And we’ve worked with tourists who come hear once a year and just thought it would be fun to age their own whiskey where they vacation.”

At the end of the process, expect to walk away with five bottles per gallon. Whether you age it on your own or with friends, your barrel will get its own nameplate, bearing your name(s) or any names or group name you want listed. And if you’re torn between bourbon or rye, it’s important to know that you don’t need to be a connoisseur: you’re welcome to sit down with Ryan or with his distiller to sample before you decide.

“That makes for a pretty fun afternoon,” said Thompson. 

If schedules allow, you can even accompany the distiller to pick up your “new make” – as they call it in the business – and help add it to your barrel. When it’s ready to bottle, you can help with that process, too. Taste it, and if you’re not in love with it as is, you can work with the distiller to get it to a point where you adore every drop.

A 5-gallon barrel at 10th Mountain distillery.

A 5-gallon barrel. Photo courtesy 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Co.

Most people age their whiskey somewhere between one to three years, depending on the flavor profile they’re after. But, keep in mind, you don’t just walk away with freshly bottled whiskey, either: you also get to keep the barrel. Which means that after you get home, if you decide to pour all of your whiskey back into the barrel to let it keep aging (or to impress your friends) – hey – that’s your prerogative.

It’s your name on the nameplate, after all. 

10th Mountain Distillery is located at 227 Bridge Street in Vail. Prices for their “Age Your Own” program range from $1,250 (25 bottles) to $12,500 (250 bottles). Visit www.10thWhiskey.com for more information about visiting the distillery, or where to purchase their products.

Have you visited 10th Mountain Distillery before? If so, share your thoughts with us in the comments section below. And if you're interested in other distilleries in Colorado, you should check out Marble Distilling Co.! Cheers!

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