A Dram of History

Blogging here On the Whiskey Summit Trail we'll sometimes explore the fascinating history of whiskey and other distilled spirits in the Rocky Mountains. I'm pleased to say that two young distillers took me up on my request for input. Joe Elkins and McShan Walker of the Elkins Distilling Company in Estes Park, Colorado, directed me to two interesting stories about whiskey in Estes Park’s early history.

Lord Dunraven (Barb Boyer Buck / Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

Lord Dunraven (Barb Boyer Buck / Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

The first was written in 1880 by Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quin, 4th Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl (1841–1926), as he described one peaceful day in the mountains around Estes Park. 

I was sitting on the stoop of the log-shanty one fine hot summer’s evening when to me appeared the strange apparition of an aged gentleman on a diminutive donkey. He was the first stranger I had ever seen in the park. After surveying me in silence for some moments he observed, “Say, is this a pretty good place to drink whisky in?” I replied “Yes,” naturally, for I have never heard of a spot that was not favorable for the consumption of whisky, the State of Main not excepted. “Well, have you any to sell?” he continued. “No,” I answered, “got none.” After gazing at me in melancholy silence for some moments, evidently puzzled at the idea of a man and a house but no whisky, he went slowly and sadly on his way, and I saw him no more. (1)

It's interesting that Lord Dunraven, who was an Irish nobleman, spelled whiskey without the “e.” Today, the Scots and Canadians generally do not use the “e” while the Irish and Americans do.

Lost Treasure

The second story deals with Lord Dunraven’s "Lost Irish Whiskey":

Apparently, in the winter, he would bury his stash of fine whiskey to recover the following spring. One year, however, he forgot where he buried it. For decades, well into the mid-1900s, newspaper accounts chronicled the search for the lost Irish whiskey, never to any avail. (2)

Because some of you just might be treasure hunters, I will not give more details. Rest assured that after all this time underground there is nothing left to find except possibly the descendants of very happy worms.

Thanks to Joe and McShan for sharing these stories about whiskey in Estes Park.  Also, stay tuned because Elkins Distilling is preparing to unveil some intriguing new whiskeys this Fall 2018.

So, who else has interesting facts about the history of whiskey in the mountains and plains of the Rocky Mountain region?


  1. Appletons' Journal: A Magazine of General Literature. "A Colorado Sketch," [Volume 9, Issue 53, Nov 1880; pp. 437-443].

  2. Buck, Barb Boyer, The Estes ParkTrail-Gazette, 11-12-2014, 11:50:08 AM MST.