Denver Vs. Carolina: Who Has the Better Whiskey?

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Put the suds down, football fan. With respect to the craft beer community and the Clydesdales, 2016 is the year of supporting your team with whiskey, not beer. 

See, the whiskey community made it clear that this was the year of brown liquor for the Bowl just two weeks ago, when Rhode Island distiller Sons of Liberty sent Peyton a care package. Well, they actually addressed it to his wife, which, in their words, was “the best way to get something to you.” 

But as many New England fans (and Peyton haters) as there may have been laughing along, the big news for most people was that Rhode Island makes whiskey; American single malt, and it’s damn good. Sadly (or not so sadly, if you live outside the Northeast), the Pats didn’t make it to the Super Bowl this year: the Panthers and Broncos did. This, of course, should lead you to go out and seek the best bottles those places have to offer. 

Believe it or not, Carolina and Colorado make whiskey of their own too — and not just bourbon bought from Indiana-based MGP that they sell out of faux distilleries. We’re talking real, made-at-home stuff here. 

RELATED: Super Bowl 50 Craft Beer Face-Off: Colorado Vs. North Carolina

You might have already tried Colorado-made Stranahan’s ($54). It’s a 100 percent malted barley whiskey (same as a single malt) but aged in new, charred oak like bourbon. It’s aged for 2–5 years, and blended. It’s a delicious, deeply flavorful whiskey, with dozens of awards under its belt.

Like Cam and the Panthers, the relative newcomer from the Carolinas, Defiant Whisky ($35), is a single malt with a heritage of Blue Ridge moonshiners. It’s a rapidly aged whisky: 60 days with extensive wood contact means it gets a lot of flavor quickly. The process has already won it a heaping handful of awards.

After tasting both side by side, we weren’t about to pick a Super Bowl winner. It’s booze; we’re all winners here. But whether you’ve got a team in this game or not, it’s a good excuse to try a whiskey outside your comfort zone. Both are available in many states, and if not, there’s still time to track one down online.

And make sure you get one of each, because unlike the NFL this time next week, there can be two winners.