Just like real snowflakes, no two batches of Stranahan’s Snowflake are alike. The carefully crafted whiskey blend is so coveted that, each December, eager enthusiasts line up around Stranahan’s Distillery in Denver, Colorado, in the freezing cold as early as a full two days before they open their doors at 8 am. This year’s Stranahan’s Snowflake will be released on Saturday, December 2, and people are excited to line up for their two bottles.
“I always create it by nose and taste, and so it’s our single malt whiskey that will age in our American oak barrels for three-and-a-half years, from a different wine barrels from all over the world,” says Stranahan’s master distiller Rob Dietrich.
Then, once the whiskey is finished, it’s transferred to used wine, sherry, cognac, tequila and rum barrels, resulting into the special taste for which Stranahan’s Snowflake is known: bold, spicy, rich and fruity. The exact combination all depends on the year’s blend. “It’s an in-house marriage of different barrels,” quips Dietrich. The 2017 release was finished in a mixture of cognac, Sangiovese, port, Madeira, and three rum barrels.
Stranahan’s Snowflake is so popular that people will fly or drive in from out of state just for the opportunity to take home two bottles of the limited edition whiskey blend. “There’s an excitement about it, there’s community about it, there’s camaraderie, it’s very much that pack mentality,” said Dietrich.
The entire occasion turns into a party where those in line will get together and have a good time. People will throw on their warmest winter gear, bring games, hang out — one person even fired up a batch of chili for everyone waiting line. Someone called this year asking if he could bring his smoker and grill ribs. “I will go out there at 3 o’clock in the morning on the day of the release,” says Dietrich. “I always walk the line. There are 500 people out there, camping.”
And the best way and time to enjoy a glass of Stranahan’s Snowflake? “I definitely suggest drinking it neat or with one ice cube, just to open it up, but definitely a celebratory time, so if it’s your anniversary, or your birthday or Christmas, that’s the time to break out a bottle,” says Dietrich.