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The Spirit of a Local Whiskey Distillery

Axe and the Oak: Crafting Whiskey + Community

Whiskey is a drink that demands time; it is simply not itself without age and intention.

And though it might strike some as rough around the edges, it contains complexity that begs to be recognized. 

Kentucky and Tennessee get a lot of credit for Bourbon and whiskey here in the United States, but craft is making a resurgence and Colorado is taking part.

Crafting Whiskey

Perhaps more than taking part, they are taking names. And awards. Lots of awards. As one of the first whiskey distilleries in Colorado Springs, Axe and the Oak has been making a name for themselves at spirit competitions locally, nationally and internationally since inception.   

They pride themselves on using locally sourced ingredients and distill their spirits right here on the east side of Colorado Springs. Among their offerings: Colorado Mountain Bourbon Whiskey, Incline Rye Whiskey, Pikes Peak Hill Shine, Citra Gin and First Stake Cask Strength Bourbon. 

The history of whiskey reads largely of self-sustainability. Whiskey was a way of managing a previously unusable surplus in order to mitigate waste while enterprising and providing for one’s family economically.    

Axe and the Oak started with five friends sharing life around a campfire. At that time, co-owner Casey Ross was on the road touring with his band. He was looking for a way to spend more time at home with his family and still be a part of something he was passionate about. 

He has always worked with his hands, so he figured he would have to return to his automotive industry experience. By the end of the night, the seed had been planted to consider whiskey as a viable career change.

Grains, Mash Bills, Barrels, Proofs

Whiskey production has always been a hands-on-process. Growing the raw materials, barrel creation, distillation, tasting, and refining recipes all require intention and a mastery of one’s craft. Each facet supports the other and all are necessary to arrive at the final product.

Crafting Community

When Axe and the Oak expanded and started looking for a space for a tasting room, Ivywild School presented the perfect location. It was an opportunity to be involved in the environmentally sustainable restoration of this historic building and enhance a void left in the neighborhood.

Ivywild School was built in 1916. In 2009, it was one of seven schools in the city scheduled to close its doors due to declining enrollment. Some local businesses took an interest in this part of Colorado Springs history and in 2011, the building was declared an urban renewal site. Partnering with nearby residents, these businesses set to concepting and remodeling the school for a new role in the community. 

Today, Ivywild is home to four eateries, a brew pup, a barrel house, an artisan cocktail and coffee bar,  an emporium and Axe and the Oak Whiskey House.   

Casey Ross and his team moved in in 2016, took every minute of two months to renovate the space by hand. The tin on the wall came from Casey’s great grandfather’s barn. The bar top was made using wood that survived the Black Forest Fire. The handrail was used in a fashion show that Casey salvaged from his travels to New York. The fence around the outdoor area is handmade, and the cutouts from the fence were used to make the coat rack on the inside of the building.

Various whiskeys as well as gin are staples in the custom tasting room.  The team is adding Colorado Mountain Wheat Vodka as well as Dream Stream Barrel Proof Gin to the tasting room in May to give their bartenders and patrons a few more options.

The City of Colorado Springs partnered with Axe and the Oak to create a specific vintage for the city’s Bicentennial celebration. Part of the proceeds of the Dream Stream Gin will go to supporting Colorado Parks and Wildlife. As Olympic City U.S.A. is home, the Axe and the Oak team are proud to sponsor several local athletes in biking and cycling. Adding to the list, this year they are excited to sponsor a few drivers in this year’s 100th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. 

Crafting Connection

This space is a place to slow down, tell stories, to listen, and to be heard.  There are no televisions anywhere in sight. But patrons will find corn hole, tables, and conversation to be shared over live music and craft cocktails.  Regular events are hosted as well as a chance to bring people together over a common interest.

Perhaps Mark Twain said it best, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.”

Facebook + Instagram: axeandtheoakdistillery