Early in Lenny Eckstein’s efforts to start up Deerhammer Distilling, someone asked him “Why Buena Vista?”. Before he could respond, someone else chimed in, “If you’d ever been to BV, you’d know why.”
As a long-time kayaker, Lenny has been coming to Buena Vista since 1999, and his “wife/business partner/bar maid” Amy spent years raft guiding before her current profession as a nurse; so when they tried to make a list of places they wanted to move to from the front range, the list didn’t get beyond BV. “When we decided to pursue our dream, we knew that it could only happen here” say Lenny and Amy.
Buena Vista is certainly fortunate to have Lenny and Amy bringing their artful touch to Main Street. Their tasting room at 321 East Main Street drips with character and virtually demands that you grab a Honey Badger (Deerhammer’s take on the Hot Toddy, featuring local honey) if you’re passing by on a cold evening.
And of course the whiskey itself is excellent. From Deerhammer’s website: “Much in the way a craft-brewed beer is built from a variety of roasted and kilned barley to impart character, we also utilize these flavorful grains to add a unique complexity to our whiskey. We then double distill though a hand crafted copper pot still, using tried and true techniques with a twist of our own modern innovation.” The first result is what they refer to as Deerhammer Small Batch White Whiskey. This is the spirit as it comes straight off the still, resulting in “a light/sweet spirit with notes of fruit, chocolate and cinnamon.” Deerhammer’s unique flavor profile results from the fact that they begin with essentially a Porter base, using chocolate and crystal malts to impart flavor.
The more conventional, barrel-aged whiskey which most people are familiar with will come later, after oak barrels have imparted their own unique flavor characteristics. “White whiskey was around before aged whiskey,” Lenny told me on a recent visit to the Deerhammer tasting room. “The flavor contributions were a side effect of forgetting about a barrel for too long.” Deerhammer even has mini oak barrels for sale so that you can sample the spirit over the course of the aging process.
So, if all of this has piqued your interest and left you drooling for a taste, head over to 321 East Main Street where you can sample Deerhammer’s white whiskey straight up or mixed in one of their four specialty cocktails. And be sure to grab a bottle to go.
But wait, one more question I’m sure you’re dying to have answered- what about the name? Well, after Lenny fended off a BV buck in rut with his trusty framing hammer, let’s just say it was a foregone conclusion. Actually, not quite, but if you like that version, spread some rumors!
The real story is that Deerhammer was the name of the woman who proposed the name “Buena Vista” instead of Cottonwood and other names. Then on his way to work, Lenny had this vision of a barrel with antlers and thought “Ah, we’re definitely using that, it’s perfect!” So now you know. Plus there’s this great word “Deerhammered” which you can use after you’ve enjoyed a couple cocktails at the tasting room.
So, be sure to stop in and get know this wonderful couple and their artfully made spirits. We love them and you will too. Cheers!
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