Whiskeys from out west have been hitting the market and getting good reviews more and more over the past few years. High West, Breckenridge Distillery, Templeton, and Ranger Creek have all been proving that you don’t have to be from Kentucky to know good and make good bourbon. Tincup American Whiskey from Colorado seems to be looking to join those making news from West of the Mississippi. Jess Graber is the man behind Tincup. In researching this whiskey I learned that Graber is the co-founder of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey which is made in small batches in Denver. I have never had Stranahan’s but the small batch nature of the whiskey means that it is expensive and harder to come by. Right now it isn’t available outside of Colorado. (Update: Tincup Whiskey should now also be available in CA, IL, IN, NY, and TX.) Tincup Whiskey is a separate brand from Stranahan’s, (although they are both actually owned by Proximo who also owns Kraken, Jose Cuevro,and 1800), but knowing about this back story helped me make sense of Tincup and how it came to be.
You see Tincup Whiskey is an interesting product. On one hand they seem like another psudeo-microdisillery with a lot of money and great marketing who are sourcing from Lawrenceburg. And in a lot of ways that is exactly what they are. But on the other hand, while the information about the source of the whiskey isn’t mentioned on the official website, Graber has talked publicly about why he decided to purchase his bourbon rather than producing it himself and his reasons make sense. It allows him to have a more affordable and easily available product. And Tincup goes a step further to put their own spin on the whiskey by adding Rocky Mountain water to cut it before bottling it in Denver. So while it may not be quite the pure Colorado product that it claims to be, I can see why a smaller distillery having a hard time keeping up with demand would want to have a more affordable and easily available product to offer the public.
So what about Tincup American Whiskey?
It meets the technical definition of bourbon but for marketing reasons they are sticking with calling a whiskey. It has a higher rye mash bill and is cut with that Rocky Mountain Whiskey to 84 proof. The mash bill isn’t on the website but I have read others that say that it is 64% corn, 32% rye, and 4% malted barley. I have no problem in admitting that this is one of the prettiest whiskey bottles I’ve seen. I love the art deco look and the tin cup cover that can double as a cup.
But let’s get down to our Tincup American Whiskey review and tasting notes.
Bourbon Name: Tincup American Whiskey
Age: No age statement
How I Drank It: Neat, in Glencairn whiskey glass.
My Nose Noticed:* vanilla | brown sugar | sweet corn
First Sip: maple sugar | vanilla | sweet pepper
The Burn:** Very mild burn that flashes for a bit but fades quickly. What’s there flares up toward the nostrils more than down the throat. Surprisingly, the sweetness of this whiskey lingers on the tongue almost as long as the burn, if not longer. My biggest impression was they had overdone it with that Rocky Mountain water. A higher proof might have made this a more interesting drink. Frankly this is not a bad or offensive whiskey. It is just a kind of shoulder-shrugging, meh kind of whiskey. Easy to drink, easy to forget.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: No need for water or ice on this one. It already has too much water in it for me.
Share With: This wouldn’t be a bad starter whiskey for someone who doesn’t normally drink it. It is incredibly sweet to my taste buds but that might make it just right for someone who is looking to graduate from Fireball into something decent. Right now it is only available in Colorado, Arizona, California, Illinois, New York, Texas and Washington so you will have to do your sharing in those states.
Worth The Price: It sells for around $28 a bottle. Again I feel inclined to shrug my shoulders on this. Someone who tries it at this price would probably not feel ripped off but it’s not how I would spend my bourbon allowance for the week.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: I hate to call it a bust because I have had much worse stuff (Cleveland may have hit so low that everything else I try from now on will seem decent by comparison.) It is a pretty inoffensive whiskey all things considered. But it is just too forgettable for me to whole-heartedly recommend to a serious bourbon drinker. You can have a MGPI high-rye bourbon from countless other brands right now so why bother seeking out another one unless you need a bottle to match your Restoration Hardware Aviator Chair? That said, someone who isn’t a whiskey geek who happens to buy a bottle because it looks cool probably won’t be disappointed.