Posted on | March 25, 2014
Written by | Cara McIlwaine
Proximo launches Tincup American Whiskey, created by the founder of Stranahan’s
Jess Graber fell in love with Colorado decades ago, around the time he first started learning the art of distilling, initially as a hobby. He carved a name for himself with the first legally-made whiskey in Colorado, Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. Building on that success, Graber has created Tincup American Whiskey, launching now as the second whiskey in the Proximo Spirits portfolio.
The state of Colorado and its mining history serve as the inspiration for Tincup Whiskey. Graber says, “People here tend to be outdoorsy and rugged. The first people were definitely rugged—looking for gold, working hard, drinking whiskey, since it was very difficult to ship beer out west.”
Tincup is a departure from the first whiskey Graber created with Flying Dog Brewery founder George Stranahan. Stranahan’s has a more Scotch-like character. “It was successful, but different, because it’s all malt. People asked me about making an American-style whiskey, but I feel a lot of modern whiskies have a homogenized character, so I went back to the 1960s for inspiration when whiskey had a higher rye content,” says Graber.
Tincup uses a blend of 64% corn, 32% rye and 4% malted barley and pristine Rocky Mountain water. Tincup is aged in new charred American oak barrels and bottled at the Stranahan’s distillery at 84 proof. The flavor is bolder and spicier than many bourbons on the market today. “Once we decided that this was good stuff, it wasn’t rocket science. It was committing to the concept,” Graber says.
Tincup Whiskey takes its name from an old mining town in Gunnison County, CO, which was so-named for the tin cups the miners often used. The bottle and closure offer more nods to Colorado history. The rugged hexagonal bottle takes inspiration from an old glass bottle found at the Stranahan’s distillery, possibly made from mine glass. Jess Graber notes, “A long time ago, it was hard to keep a label on a bottle, so you would emboss the bottle, and that would last a lot longer. The hexagonal shape of the Tincup bottle gives it that old-timey feel.” Tincup is distilled in Indiana using Midwestern grain. It is cut to proof with Rocky Mountain water and bottled in Colorado.
Colorado living is about enjoying the outdoors, taking advantage of opportunities to hike, bike, fish, horseback ride etc….The screw top cap of Tincup Whiskey serves as a little tin cup, holding 1½ oz. so that the spirit can be shared on the go, outside, similar to how those 19th century miners enjoyed whiskey.
Graber can recall hand-selling Stranahan’s from the back of his truck in the beginning. That approach got more sophisticated with the brand’s acquisition by Proximo Spirits in 2010. With the company’s full backing for the launch of Tincup, Graber can focus on promoting the brand. He says, “With Tincup’s price point and Stranahan’s brand recognition, it’s been easy to be everywhere off-premise” in the launch markets, Graber says.
Distributed by Proximo Spirits, Tincup began rolling out to Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, New York, Texas and Washington in late 2013, at a suggested price of $27.99. Jess Graber has been visiting whiskey-centric bars across Colorado (his home turf of course), and is visiting other local markets including Los Angeles, Houston, New York, Phoenix and San Francisco to conduct tastings of Tincup