The brainchild of Doctor Joseph Alaimo, local veterinarian, the distillery called Trail Town Still has been more than a year in the making. Using local corn, Doc Joe has come up with what some call the smoothest vodka they have ever tasted.
Located on the corner behind the Conoco at the intersection of highways 550 and 62 in Ridgway, Trail Town Still is all rough wood and stone – just like the Trail Town development from which the still gets its name. In addition to veterinarian Alaimo, the business includes Melissa Wright, a teacher, and Lynda Gegauff, a local businesswoman. The trio says that they make spirits in the tradition of the old west – they wanted something good to drink, so they looked around at what they found growing nearby and then built a still to make it.
Doc Joe makes vodka using two stills. First the fermented corn is put in a beautiful 106-gallon copper stripping still from Portugal that makes a “low wine” of about 35 percent alcohol. Then he distills it a second time using a still that he built by hand. In that still the alcohol is purified to 95 percent over a 20-hour period in the equivalent of 10 distillations. He says people can make vodka faster, and some choose to use many separate individual distillations, but none of that guarantees a pure product. He goes on to say that his compound still separates the individual fractions of the fermented liquid, collecting only the purest “heart” alcohol, and then (and only then) charcoal filters it and bottles the result. Admitting that the whole process is actually quite inefficient, he says he could make vodka cheaper and easier but it would not be as good or as much fun.
Wright is currently compiling drink recipes and selecting foods for the upcoming weekend. (The shop is open Fridays and Saturdays from 4-7 p.m. for cocktails and tapas.) She says she has chocolates from Mouse’s Chocolates in Ouray, seasoned crackers from Artisan Bakery (also in Ouray), and a selection of artisan cheeses from Rocking W Ranch in Olathe and James Ranch in Durango. Also on the tapas menu is Palisade peach-wood smoked Rocky Mountain trout from Eagle and organic apricots from Paonia.
When asked what prompted them to open a distillery, Doc Joe says, “Melissa and I had been looking for a way to work together expressing our love of good food and drink and use all of our skills. A distillery seemed like the perfect choice, and when we told the idea to our friend Lynda, she immediately wanted to help and we knew we had a winner.” He goes on to add that the Western Slope of Colorado is a “tremendously bountiful area” and provides exceptional pairings of good food and spirits.
Trail Town Still makes other liquors as well: a young whiskey, a spirit made from agave nectar they call “Desert Water,” and they are working on a gin using local juniper. Trail Town Still is currently open Fridays and Saturday evening 4-11 p.m. for cocktails and tapas. For tours and sales during the week call 970/626-3060, find them on Face Book, or go to trailtownstill.com.
WOODY CREEK CELLARS JOIS ANYVINO.COM
WESTERN SLOPE – Woody Creek Cellars has joined the AnyVino.com network, which is adding a number of Colorado wineries to its list.
The small Old World style winery “is well-known and respected in the Colorado winery community,” AnyVino.com said in a press release, “and we are delighted to have them on the network.
They can be found at AnyVino.com or http://anyvino.com/woody-creek-cellars-austin-colorado/index.php.