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Tincup Whiskey History and Distillery Product - MGP

    • 195 posts
    March 19, 2020 3:17 PM PDT


    Originally Posted Dec 2013

    Nobody would blame you if you thought that the new TINCUP Colorado American Whiskey was made in Colorado after seeing the bottle for the first time. The words, “Colorado” and “Rocky Mountain water” are all over the bottle, the color scheme matches the state flag, and there are even pick axes and mountain scenery used to purvey imagery of rustic mountain life in Tincup, Colorado and cliché Colorado culture.

    For Colorado whiskey drinkers, the most noticeable Colorado lineage tied to the TINCUP bottle is the actual tin cup on top of the bottle itself. This is a less than subtle nod to the other “Colorado Whiskey” named Stranahan’s, which like TINCUP is also owned by Proximo Spirits. Proximo is a New Jersey based spirit conglomerate that operates large brands like Jose Cuervo, Kraken Rum. They also own a former LDI bottling plant that just so happens to be a stones throw from MGPI’s operation…

    There is even a neck tag on the bottle that outlines how Jess Graber, one of the founders of Stranahan’s, is the brains behind TINCUP Colorado American Whiskey. Looking at the TTB, the product is even registered to Stranahan’s Kalamath Street distillery.

    With all of this Colorado swag on the bottle and the Colorado address, there is no way on earth that this whiskey was not made in Colorado, right? I mean, how could a company name their brand after a region, and market it towards that region’s culture, without actually having a product that is made in the region or in the midsts of that culture? Who would be so bold?

    Obviously, that is sarcasm. At this point, it isn’t even original sarcasm for which I apologize. Non-distiller producers have been getting crushed in forums and blogs for years now, and the more I time spend fielding questions about the provenance of foggy bourbon brands, the less patience I have for the almost obligatory charade that NDP’s feel is necessary to market their product.

    At least when Breckenridge Bourbon sourced their bourbon, it was a temporary measure so they could mature their real Breckenridge, Colorado made bourbon. TINCUP, a bottle that is plastered with no less than 18 Colorado references, is a New Jersey company, with most likely an Indiana bourbon, that is only bottled in Colorado. In other words, all TINCUP does here in Colorado is bottle some other state’s bourbon, and they think that is enough to capitalize on Colorado’s highly marketable culture.

    Carpetbagger (noun, car-pet-bag-er): 1. Northerner who went to the South after the Civil War for political or financial advantage. 2. An outsider, especially a politician, who presumptuously seeks a position or success in a new locality.


    Like the Spring 44 bourbons, TINCUP also boasts the addition of pure Rocky Mountain water as a revolutionary idea. In Kentucky, mineral rich limestone water is said to be one of the most significant ingredients in Kentucky bourbon. There is some science behind the flavors attributed to specific minerals, but pretending that the simple addition of Colorado water is enough to call a Kentucky or Indiana made bourbon a “Colorado Bourbon” is absurd, and quite insulting to consumers and real Colorado distillers alike.

    If adding Colorado water is all it takes to dress an Indiana or Kentucky bourbon in a Colorado costume, I am going to buy a barrel of MGPI bourbon and cut it with a case of FIJI water to make the first ever, Fiji Bourbon. I could even import some of the paper thin plastic water bottles from a FOB in Afghanistan and make the first ever Afghani Bourbon. It may taste like malaria pills and burning rubber, but I only need the cultural aspect to make money, screw quality. I will call it, “Sniper’s Bullet,” because you have no idea where it came from, or maybe “IED,” because you will have no idea who made it.

    Odds are good that TINCUP is another MGPI product. It seems as though the reps pushing TINCUP are disseminating a 64% corn, 32% rye and 4% malt mashbill to stores, which rules out PeachStreet’s bourbon, Breckenridge’s bourbon, any Leopold Product. No other distillery in the state makes a bourbon on such a scale to where it could reach CA and NY and five states in between. Maybe I am being bold in assuming this, but on that rational alone, TINCUP has very little chance of being a true Colorado spirit.

    These Colorado distilleries have enough trouble meeting demand for their own products. Stranahan’s even had to reel in their distribution to meet demand at home. I have a hard time believing that any of these Colorado distilleries could split time on their still with TINCUP long enough to produce enough “TINCUP Bourbon” for seven of the largest market states in the nation while maintaining their own production needs.

    The fact that this new company has most likely sourced their bourbon is not surprising. Sourcing like this is nothing new, and normally I don’t take issue with it. The big problem I have with Proximo’s new “Colorado” bourbon is that they are marketing themselves directly in to competition with real Colorado bourbons that may not have a giant corporation backing them.

    Feisty Spirits sources local, organic ingredients and does everything out of their modest Fort Collins distillery. Leopold Bros. has been pumping out simple, yet enjoyable spirits from their Denver distillery for years, and Breckenridge Bourbon worked their asses off to get their still up and running so they can start selling their own, real Breckenridge, Colorado made bourbon. If I were Stranahan’s, I would be pretty ashamed of lending the tin cap topper to such a blatant impostor of Colorado whiskey, especially since they are perfectly positioned to actually make their own bourbon and keep the money and jobs here in Colorado!

    I have egg on my face for believing the guy behind the counter when he told me it was made here in Colorado. Now that I think about it, it was all too obvious. Not that I could have double checked, because the bottles have already made it all the way out to California and New York before there is a functioning website, email address, or phone number to clarify any of the details.

    I emailed Proximo Spirits over a month ago, and have not received an email back.

    I called Proximo Spirits over a month ago, and have not received a call back.

    I emailed the registered contact on the TTB on 12/17, and have not received an email back.

    I called the registered contact on the TTB on 12/17, and have not received a call back.

    I messaged the TINCUP Facebook page on 12/20 and have not received a reply.

    The only people answering questions right now about TINCUP is Stranahan’s, and they are happy to point out that they do not distill it, only bottle the whiskey for Proximo at their Denver facility. Heck, maybe it is made here and TINCUP is just being bashful or modest about having opened a new distillery some years back, but silence and secrets are very telling companions.

    With so many high quality Colorado whiskies, I can’t think of any reason to buy TINCUP. It may be priced right and I admit it has a cool looking bottle, but it is pure Jersey Turnpike dressed up as I-25. If you want a cheap, high rye bourbon, grab some Old Grand Dad BIB or 114 instead. If you want a Colorado whiskey, take your pick. We have a lot of them.