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Tincup American Whiskey Review

In American Whiskey Reviews by Ginny Tonic9 Comments

Whiskeys from out west have been hitting the market and getting good reviews more and more over the past few years. High West, Breckenridge Distillery, Templeton, and Ranger Creek have all been proving that you don’t have to be from Kentucky to know good and make good bourbon. Tincup American Whiskey from Colorado seems to be looking to join those making news from West of the Mississippi. Jess Graber is the man behind Tincup. In researching this whiskey I learned that Graber is the co-founder of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey which is made in small batches in Denver. I have never had Stranahan’s but the small batch nature of the whiskey means that it is expensive and harder to come by. Right now it isn’t available outside of Colorado. (Update: Tincup Whiskey should now also be available in CA, IL, IN, NY, and TX.) Tincup Whiskey is a separate brand from Stranahan’s, (although they are both actually owned by Proximo who also owns Kraken, Jose Cuevro,and 1800), but knowing about this back story helped me make sense of Tincup and how it came to be.

You see Tincup Whiskey is an interesting product. On one hand they seem like another psudeo-microdisillery with a lot of money and great marketing who are sourcing from Lawrenceburg. And in a lot of ways that is exactly what they are. But on the other hand, while the information about the source of the whiskey isn’t mentioned on the official website, Graber has talked publicly about why he decided to purchase his bourbon rather than producing it himself and his reasons make sense. It allows him to have a more affordable and easily available product. And Tincup goes a step further to put their own spin on the whiskey by adding Rocky Mountain water to cut it before bottling it in Denver. So while it may not be quite the pure Colorado product that it claims to be, I can see why a smaller distillery having a hard time keeping up with demand would want to have a more affordable and easily available product to offer the public.

So what about Tincup American Whiskey?

It meets the technical definition of bourbon but for marketing reasons they are sticking with calling a whiskey. It has a higher rye mash bill and is cut with that Rocky Mountain Whiskey to 84 proof. The mash bill isn’t on the website but I have read others that say that it is 64% corn, 32% rye, and 4% malted barley. I have no problem in admitting that this is one of the prettiest whiskey bottles I’ve seen. I love the art deco look and the tin cup cover that can double as a cup.

But let’s get down to our Tincup American Whiskey review and tasting notes.

“I’ve been distilling since 1972. I made TINCUP in honor of Colorado’s first whiskey drinkers and the tin cups they drank from. It is inspired by, and made for, the mountains. I really hope you enjoy it; life is too short to drink bad whiskey.”Jess Graber, Founder
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Tincup American Whiskey

  • DISTILLER: It says Tincup Whiskey on the bottle but it is a source whiskey
  • MASH BILL: Undisclosed
  • AGE: NAS – No Age Statement
  • YEAR: 2014
  • PROOF: 84 (42% ABV)
  • MSRP: $45.00
  • BUY ONLINE: Ezras.com
NOSE: Vanilla | Brown Sugar | Sweet Corn  

TASTE: Maple Sugar | Vanilla | Sweet Pepper

FINISH: Very mild burn that flashes for a bit but fades quickly. What’s there flares up toward the nostrils more than down the throat. Surprisingly, the sweetness of this whiskey lingers on the tongue almost as long as the burn, if not longer. My biggest impression was they had overdone it with that Rocky Mountain water. A higher proof might have made this a more interesting drink. Frankly this is not a bad or offensive whiskey. It is just a kind of shoulder-shrugging, meh kind of whiskey. Easy to drink, easy to forget.

SHARE WITH: This wouldn’t be a bad starter whiskey for someone who doesn’t normally drink it. It is incredibly sweet to my taste buds but that might make it just right for someone who is looking to graduate from Fireball into something decent. Right now it is only available in Colorado, Arizona, California, Illinois, New York, Texas and Washington so you will have to do your sharing in those states.

WORTH THE PRICE: It sells for around $45 a bottle. Again I feel inclined to shrug my shoulders on this. Someone who tries it at this price would probably not feel ripped off but it’s not how I would spend my bourbon allowance for the week.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: I hate to call it a bust because I have had much worse stuff (Cleveland may have hit so low that everything else I try from now on will seem decent by comparison.) It is a pretty inoffensive whiskey all things considered. But it is just too forgettable for me to whole-heartedly recommend to a serious bourbon drinker. You can have a MGPI high-rye bourbon from countless other brands right now so why bother seeking out another one unless you need a bottle to match your Restoration Hardware Aviator Chair? That said, someone who isn’t a whiskey geek who happens to buy a bottle because it looks cool probably won’t be disappointed.

OVERALL: If you want to listen to me and Charlie trying Tincup American Whiskey you can find our initial review on Episode 144 of The Charlie Tonic Hour.

Learn more about Ginny’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…


Disclaimer: Tincup American Whiskey provided Bourbon & Banter with samples of their products for this review. we appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.

About the Author

Ginny Tonic

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Although Ginny was a late bloomer to the world of drinking she likes to think she’s making up for lost time. She had my first manhattan at the age of 24 and fell in love. Finally, there was a drink she felt cool ordering and actually liked the taste of. Bourbon is her drink of choice and where she geeks out the most, but she honestly enjoys all aspects of drinking. The way it brings people together, the way it combines art, science, and culture, the way a nice drink at the end of the day can make the world seem so much better than it did a few minutes before. When she’s not writing for Bourbon & Banter, she writes for Queen City Drinks and co-hosts two podcasts: an hour long culture podcast called The Charlie Tonic Hour and a shorter all alcohol show called Bottoms Up. She is also the owner and lead guide for Tonic Tours, where they offer small group alcohol-based tours that focus on craft producers as well as hosting classes, tasting and other events.


    1. Patrick

      Charlie, great question. Most of the whiskey is bourbon that’s been sourced from MGP in Indiana – based on a custom mash bill blend worked outed between Tincup and MGP. Then after it’s trucked to CO, it’s cut with CO water and a bit of Stranahan’s to the mix as well. Therefore it can no longer be called bourbon. Personally, I would prefer that they would be more transparent by listing the state of distillation on the label but if asked, they don’t hide any of the details above.

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    This might be based on outdated info, but I just wanted to add in that the label on my bottle that I just bought in 2018 clearly states it was distilled in Indiana and mixed with the small batch from CO and water from the Rockies! Sounds like maybe they took your advice charlie

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    Just got my first bottle. It’s an okay whiskey with a rather short finish. I tend to agree that it might be a bit more robust at about 90 proof. But that’s just me.
    It’s on the shelf, and I’ll recommend my friends use that for their mixers.

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    Just found this in Connecticut. Only one bottle on the shelf. Pity. They are always out of what I like.

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    Your commercial is vary bad! You can’t use pound in mountain climbing spikes thay are outlawed. The guys climbing the mountain are not packing a maul to split wood or pack rounds up the mountain. You would pack split wood only! And having a fire on a windy mountain top. NOT the best thing to be doing!! I think you come up with a better commercial then that one.

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    Can I “up the proof” by adding some pure grain alcohol? Would that “fix” it in your estimation … i.e., not affect the taste too radically … roughly speaking? I doubt anyone who cares seriously about bourbon would even think about doing this, but I’m an amateur (ie, a bourbon fan, no expert by any means) and your review makes sense to me so I just wonder …

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