Don’t Hold Your Breath for Weed Whiskey in Colorado Anytime Soon
The last few years have been banner ones for pot in Colorado. As of 2012, if you are over 21 years of age, you can purchase up to a quarter ounce of some sticky green at state sanctioned dispensaries, and possession of up to one ounce for personal use is legal. Last year, this generated almost a billion dollars in sales, with around 135 million dollars in tax revenue. Additionally Colorado also produces some quality alcohol, with distilleries like Stranahan’s and Leopold Bros. making excellent whiskey, gin, vodka, and other spirits. But those hoping for a whiskey-weed collaboration to go with their edibles in the near future will likely be disappointed. According to many Colorado distillers and spirits professionals, for a variety of reasons it’s just not in the cards.
Woody Creek Distillers is based in Basalt, Colorado, just 15 miles west of Aspen. The distillery produces an excellent dry gin, a spicy 100 percent rye whiskey, and award-winning potato vodka. Managing partner Mark Kleckner doesn’t see any collaboration with the marijuana industry happening, mostly due to legal issues. “Currently, this can’t happen,” he said, “as federal law completely restricts any intersection of alcohol and alcohol production facilities with marijuana.” The only overlap he does see may make for more of a problem than a new product. “In the past it was easy to get cheap space for barrel storage and production. Now the marijuana industry and its demand for space has made our sourcing of new real estate difficult as we expand.”
Leopold Bros. CEO Scott Leopold, whose company distills a lovely, lightly citrusy gin, a variety of whiskeys, and other spirits, is equally dubious about the future of weed-spirits. “I would be surprised if there were any cooperation between the two,” he said, “as the marijuana industry is still not recognized at the federal level and I do not believe that anyone in the spirits industry would want to jeopardize their standing with their federal license.”
Grace Gabree, marketing coordinator at Breckenridge Distillery, which makes whiskey, rum, vodka, and bitters, says the company does not have any plans to make any marijuana-infused spirits. “It would be a nightmare trying to get it passed by alcohol boards,” she said. However, she does have a slightly more embracing attitude about the concept in general, and mentioned that the distillery contributes to “philanthropic events in the marijuana industry.” Also, Breckenridge plans on releasing a cinnamon whiskey called Hot Box. The packaging may not have any outright references to weed, but “it has some pretty brightly colored designs on it,” she said, “so people can make their own innuendos.”
In other words, don’t get your hopes up, as it doesn’t look like you will find any weed-whiskey or other dope-infused spirits in Colorado any time soon. On the other hand, it is absolutely 100 percent legal to light up a joint while drinking a dram, so go ahead and puff while you sip.