Travel Log: Tasting Tincup Fourteener Bourbon in Colorado
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Travel Log: A Trip to Estes Park, Colorado, for the Launch of Tincup Fourteener Bourbon

In October, Whiskey Raiders ventured to Estes Park, Colorado, to attend a media event hosted by Tincup Whiskey, which was celebrating its latest whiskey, Tincup Fourteener, the oldest in the Tincup portfolio, which was officially announced Tuesday.

Tincup Fourteener is named in honor of Colorado’s famed 14ers — mountains standing at least 14,000 feet tall. Our trip took place at the foot of the 14er that this whiskey is dedicated to: Long’s Peak, which stands at 14,259 feet, making it the tallest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Bottled at 84 proof, Tincup Fourteener is the first in a series of annual limited-edition releases commemorating 14er mountains. It will be available while supplies last in select markets, including California, Colorado, Florida and Texas, for a suggested retail price of $70 per 750-milliliter bottle. Fourteener will also be available online to ship to 46 states.

As part of the Tincup Fourteener Bourbon Whiskey Series, Tincup is donating $14,000 to the Colorado Fourteener Initiative. The funds will go to CFI’s “Adopt-a-Peak” Program, which helps preserve and restore trails.

Arrival, Happy Hour and the 1st Night

On Monday, we flew into Denver. After being picked up and enjoying the beautiful sights of mountains and autumn leaves during the hour-and-a-half ride to our destination, Taharaa Mountain Lodge in Estes Park, we got acquainted with everyone else who was on the trip, who were mostly media members, PR reps or employees of Proximo Spirits (which owns Tincup). And then there were the Tincup ambassadors, all fascinating individuals, such as Renan Ozturk, an adventurer and filmmaker who works for National Geographic; filmmaker and photojournalist Taylor Rees; professional rock climber Matt Segal; and wildlife biologist Eeland Stribling, who travels around the world camping and fly-fishing while somehow making time for standup comedy.

We then got settled into our rooms and convened in the early evening for happy hour. Drinks and meals during the trip were held at Twin Owls Steakhouse, a superb restaurant and bar attached to the lodge.

Tincup Fourteener

Happy hour at Twin Owls.

Cocktails on the menu were a few classics — Old Fashioned, Whiskey Sour and Hot Toddy — and some less-common drinks, the Mountain Smash — Tincup Original Whiskey, blackberries, simple syrup and mint — and the Mountain Mule, made with rye whiskey, lime juice and ginger beer.

Over cocktails, we chatted and met Jess Graber — the founder of Tincup whiskey and cofounder of Stranahan’s, Colorado’s first legal whiskey distillery since Prohibition and one of the leaders in the American single malt category. Graber shared the backstory of Tincup — how consumers wanted something more traditionally American (“There’s no ‘A’ in ‘American, right?’ It’s just ‘Merican whiskey,” Graber quipped) than Stranahan’s single malts. So, Graber had Greg Metze from Indiana’s goliath distillery — MGP — make him a bourbon from a mashbill of two-thirds corn and one-third rye. Graber added a bit of Stranahan’s single malt to that bourbon, and Tincup was born — with its first ‘Merican whiskey.

Tincup went on to release a rye, then a 10-year bourbon and now the 14-year bourbon, Fourteener. We weren’t allowed to taste the Fourteener that first night, though — not yet.

Tincup Fourteener

A Mountain Smash cocktail at happy hour is pictured, with a bottle of Tincup Fourteener in the background.

After happy hour, we enjoyed a delicious buffet-style dinner featuring Tincup-braised short ribs, roasted rosemary salmon, rainbow tortellini and more.

After dinner, the plan was to have s’mores in the courtyard, but the roaring winds made this an undesirable idea — so the fire was brought inside to us.

Tincup Fourteener

S’mores in the great indoors.

It was a nice evening, filled with excellent food, drinks and even live acoustic guitar music.

Starting Day 2 With A Hike in Rocky Mountain National Park

Tincup Fourteener

Sunrise on the second morning.

The following morning, we ate a buffet-style breakfast and then departed for a hike up Estes Cone in Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike was punishing on the lungs for those of us not used to the Colorado elevation, but the views were beautiful.

Tincup Fourteener

The view from the top of Estes Cone. The lake pictured is where we began our hike.

The hike, which was led by guides from the Colorado Mountain School, was a 7.5-mile loop with peak elevation of about 11,000 feet.

Tincup Fourteener

After the hike, we had a bit of downtime to freshen up and hang out until the main event — the whiskey tasting.

Tasting Tincup Fourteener

The tasting, hosted in the scenic overlook room at Twin Owls, was led by Graber and Proximo whiskey educator Jason Levinson.

We tasted Tincup American Whiskey — the brand’s original expression — then Tincup Rye Whiskey, and finally, the Fourteener.

Tincup Fourteener

The American whiskey is a very solid would-be bourbon (it can’t legally be called a bourbon due to the incorporation of Stranahan’s single malt in the blend), with a floral nose starring peanut, almond and a bit of baking spice on the nose; toffee, cinnamon, white pepper, peanut brittle and cornbread on the nose; and roasted corn with more peanut on the finish.

The rye is quite earthy, with black pepper, anise, clove and a bit of cherry, vanilla and lemon on the nose; more anise, ginger, lemon and blackberry on the palate; and a peppery finish.

The Fourteener was the highlight, featuring a diverse nose with sweet notes including icing, caramel, toffee and vanilla; plus some baking-spice notes, particularly cardamom and a pinch of cinnamon; some fruity notes like lemon juice, blueberries and blackberries; and rising bread. On the palate, this whiskey features a medium mouthfeel and a strong oak presence, with notes of blueberry pancakes, black cherries, tannins, cinnamon, orange peel, paprika, black pepper, almond and cornbread. The finish is medium in length with notes of cinnamon, candied ginger and raspberries.

Tincup Fourteener

Tincup Whiskey founder Jess Graber (left) and Proximo Spirits whiskey educator Jason Levinson lead a whiskey tasting of three Tincup expressions, including the new Tincup Fourteener.

Read More: Tincup Whiskey Launches Its Oldest Expression Yet: Fourteener Bourbon

To read our full review of Tincup Fourteener Bourbon Whiskey, click here.

Tincup Fourteener

The Final Night

After the tasting, we went right into dinner, a lovely custom meal prepared by Twin Owls Steakhouse. We started with an appetizer — Tincup Rye pork belly with apple chutney — and then moved on to a fid and arugula salad with Boursin cheese, candied walnuts and cranberry vinaigrette. Next was the entree, herb-crusted bison fillet with Tincup Ten Year-glazed baby carrots and wild mushroom risotto.

Tincup Fourteener

The entree, herb-crusted bison fillet with Tincup Ten Year-glazed baby carrots and wild mushroom risotto.

Finally, a trio of desserts were brought out: a peach cobbler, some chocolatey, delicious dessert and a slice of pecan pie.

Tincup Fourteener


After dinner, we adjourned to the courtyard, where we gathered around the fire and enjoyed cocktails (it was perfect Hot Toddy weather).

That night, Graber told us his personal story with Long’s Peak — how he moved to Colorado from Missouri with dreams of being a “mountain man.” At some point, somebody told him that in order to truly be a mountain man, you needed to have climbed Long’s Peak. So Graber, young and foolish, grabbed a friend and went to hike the mountain with a sleeping bag, backpack, little else and not much of a plan.

Graber made it to the top, but not before mistakenly going off the trail and and finding himself stuck while trying to scale a cliff, where he remained until a few passerby hikers instructed him to slowly inch his way sideways until he reached an area where he could get down.

“So, that was [my] first attempt of the 14er,” Graber said. “I made it to the top. You know how many 14ers I’ve climbed since then? Zero. I made it, and I made it up, and I made it back down alive, but it was much more difficult [than I expected].”

A lodge at the foot of that very same mountain Graber climbed so many years ago was the perfect place to taste the Fourteener for the first time, and we’re glad we were able to be some of the first ones to taste it.

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David Morrow is the managing editor of Whiskey Raiders and has been with the company since September 2021. David has worked in journalism since 2015 and has had bylines at Sports Illustrated, Def Pen, the Des Moines Register and the Quad City Times. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Saint Louis University and a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. When he’s not tasting the newest exciting whiskey releases, David enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, watching sports and traveling.