Cap Rock Organic Gin is among the best locally-produced spirits in Colorado. The gin, as well as spirits like an organic vodka, grappa, and several eaux de vie, are made by Lance Hanson at Peak Spirits Distillery in Hotchkiss, Colorado on a biodynamic farm that also grows grapes and hops. Hanson's first batch of gin was released in October of 2007 and the popularity of this floral, citrus-driven, apple-based gin has only gone up since.
Distilled with a base of Jonathan and Braeburn apples from Ela Family Farms and Gunnison River Farms, CapRock uses a blend of whole fresh or dried fruits, seeds, roots and flowers including lavender, pink rosebuds and citrus to create a unique flavor in its spirit while staying true to the traditional gin notes.
Geoff Barrett, bar manager of The Kitchen in Boulder, says that working with Cap Rock was the first and only instance he has ordered liquor from someone who was farming at the same time. "Lance is a very hands-on type of guy," Barrett said. "For awhile he decided to distribute his spirits himself and once when I called to order some gin he told me, Hold on a second, I'm going to turn off my tractor," Barrett added.
The name Cap Rock is a reference to the water used in the spirits, which comes from a location twenty miles away from the distillery near cap rock formations. The gin is cut with the basalt volcanic rock filtered water from 11,000 feet. The water is what Stephen Smith, Peak Spirit's director of business development, highlights when talking about the subtleties of this gin. "We have year-round access to our friend's well. It's completely live, untreated water that has a soft, sweet, round mouth-feel," Smith said.
Smith also points to the organic apple base. "This is not a compound gin that infuses a neutral spirit with botanical oils. We use what's called the London Method, which helps create a sequence of flavors from only dried or fresh whole ingredients. No extracts or oils are used." Smith added.
Where to get your Cap Rock gin on:
Frasca Food and Wine makes a Rock and Rose cocktail with Cap Rock Gin, Cocktail Punk rosé vermouth, Aperol, Cocktail Punk cherry bitters and a lemon twist. Cocktail Punk is a line of bitters and concoctions made by Raymond Snead exclusively for Frasca where he is a regular.
Linger features the gin in their Dirty Jones. This is essentially a dirty martini, but they use a house made olive brine made from Castelvetrano olive juice, kosher salt, and white wine vinegar.
Central makes its Bee's Knees cocktail with Cap Rock gin, wildflower honey, and lemon.
Gaetano's bartender, Kyle West, uses an intricate process to make a drink he calls The Evolution of the Gaetano's Cocktail, made with Cap Rock gin (on tap here), Aperol, sweet vermouth, and spiced honey, barrel-aged then rested in a coconut. The cocktail is served with an orange twist and a flame of green Chartreuse.
Cap Rock Gin has won a Good Food Award and the Washington Cup. Lance Hanson was a semi-finalist in the 2012 James Beard Foundation Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional award category.