Still waters run DEEP in a tiny Colorado mining town that’s rediscovering its Groove.


TPFIn the tiny Rocky Mountain town of Carbondale. Colorado – about two and a half hours west of Denver and 13 miles off I-70 West – sits a miniscule, gem-like former mining town which, for most of its recent history, has been notable mostly for incredible, up-close mountain scenery and for being the last stop on Colorado Route 133 before starting some serious mountain driving. See that photo below? That’s Carbondale’s Main Street. When I first saw it, I thought, “Where’s the rest of it?” That IS the rest of it. Carbondale is about the same size as Melania Trump’s shoe closet.

00118192aa9cc873cb379dcda011b6efSo…here’s a town that’s very small, very far from the closest major city, has one road in or out, and whose main industry dried up aeons ago. Its only close neighbor of any note is Aspen, for which you have to NOT turn off onto Colorado 133, stay on Colorado 82, and drive about another half-hour. What possible reason would anybody have for stopping into Carbondale, then, when the bright lights of Aspen are just :30 down the road? For a long time, that was a question without a clear answer.

But I can give you one and it is a beaut…Marble Distilling.

I’ve been writing this puppy, now, for almost nine years, first just in the pages of seattlepi.com, and, since 2015, here at thepourfool.com. I’ve been sent literally hundreds of boxes of things to taste and review. And in that time, two lots of liquids stand out: Spring 44 Distilling, of Loveland, Colorado, and Marble Distilling. And I could do my basic review of both with just one word…


When I received the box of four beautiful etched bottles from Marble, a little over two weeks ago, I had never heard of the company and didn’t know the box was even coming. I saw the bottles and was immediately struck by those because I think that a producer who’s making a truly great product – and knows it – will make sure it’s presented in a beautiful way. These bottles – which I’ve since discovered are designed by Fanakalo, a design firm in Stellenbosch, South Africa(!) – were breath-taking, depicting the original marble quarrymen who, in the 1800s, worked the vast mineral deposits that surround Carbondale. Everything about the package screams Quality and subtlety and other good ideas.

But the proof is in the glass. I laid out all four bottles and got out four glasses. I tasted the Vodka first, as the other three were flavored…

…and almost fell over.

MarbleVodkaMarble Vodka is like a shot of the Rocky Mountains in a glass: fresh, achingly pure and clean, smooth as a still pond, redolent of wild herbs and flowers and various fruits and those brilliant minerals that underlay every aspect of Carbondale, from its mining past to its groundwater and soil today. This Vodka is filtered through crushed chunks of Yule marble, the native mineral that lays on the ground in some parts of the Rockies, and it has the same effect here as it does in its primary application, the purification of drinking water and water for making soda pop: its natural alkaline content helps eliminate and neutralize the taste and feel of excess acidity, producing a softer and creamier liquid. That effect drips off this gorgeous, subtle Vodka. The nose is something like a bit of lanolin mingled with wintergreen and clay dirt. It’s an aroma that powerfully conjures up the outdoors, walking through forests, and clean mountain air. It smells seductive, suggestive of sweet florals like honeysuckle and jasmine, and begs for the first sip.

That sip changed something fundamental in my understanding of Vodka. This is NOT the lusty botanicals of infused Vodka or the acetone and camphor of industrial Vodkas like Bacardi and Smirnov and even Svedka, a value Vodka that I really enjoy. This is the flavors of wheat and malted barley and the copper still in which they’re turned into their essential spirits. The texture is impossibly smoooooth, the burn minimal but there, as it MUST be in a fine quality Vodka. And the grace notes run from melon to vanilla to graphite to wildflowers. This will make a dazzling mixer, laying back just enough to blend well but adding its own stratum of sophisticated enhancement and brightening of the cocktail. But, honestly, why on earth would anyone want to cover up this set of flavors? Marble has included drink recipes that involve this stuff but, for me, the thought is like imaging what Gainsborough’s “Blue Boy” would look like like with a Yankees cap and a moustache. This is a captivating Vodka and, to my infinite surprise, while it was muted maybe a millimeter with chilling, it did not close up altogether, as many Vodkas do. Just flat-out splendid stuff.   98 Points

Marble-Gingercello-ImageThe Vodka is the base spirit for all of the Marble liqueurs and, as such, each starts with a stunning purity and aroma. In making the two inspired variations on the idea of the Italian Lemoncello, Marble’s distiller/partner, Connie Baker, shows a judgment and skilled hand with infusions that rivals any I’ve ever tasted. Marble Gingercello is made with fresh-cut ginger and zested lemon peels to produce a lively flavor profile that gives the Italians’ hallmark lemon notes a much-needed kick of peppery, aromatic ginger that balances perfectly with the sweetness of the lemons. This is Lemoncello, turbocharged; a silken, voluptuous, vivid marriage of two wildly complementary flavors that make such perfect sense that I imagine Italian distillers tasting this and having a big SMH Moment: “Why didn’t I think of that?” I don’t even want to wear out the experience of this with over-analysis. What I think should suffice is this: If you like infused spirits at all, in any form, tasting this is a Must. It is so bright, refreshing, crazy mixable, and complete as a stand-alone apéritif that missing it qualifies as an “incomplete” on your booze report card. A beautiful, outside-the-box example of how Everything Old CAN Be New Again.  96 Points

IMG_20170418_175701Okay, take that brilliant Lermoncello and bung up some of it in well-seasoned Colorado Whiskey barrels and you have Marble Lemoncello Reserve, a sexy, warm, vanilla-drenched adaptation of the base liqueur that is underpinned by a caramelish, woodsy barrel character that hints at lightly toasted oak, foliage, baked apples, and a dozen or more grace notes that explode with every sip. It’s silken, viscous, and urgently sensual on the tongue, like diluted honey, and that honey carries over to the palate as a dominant background to the fat, mellowed lemon curd and ginger snaps at mid-palate. This is really, without exaggeration, one of the two or three sexiest liquids I have even put into my face, rivaled only by the Honey Vodka from the aforementioned Spring 44. And this is not just about honey. I’m not really a big hot-tub guy, except in freezing weather and with a drink in my hand, but if I ever do avail myself of that particular little pleasure again, Marble Lemoncello Reserve is what I want in that glass. Positively splendid.   99 Points

Last but far from least…I have an ongoing complaint about nearly ALL the makers of coffee-infused spirits, beers, whatever – including pastries  – that I have ever sampled: If you call your beer or Vodka or Whiskey or scone “coffee”, I don’t want to spend five minutes sitting stock-still, head cocked, desperately trying to detect any coffee flavor. Same with smoked anything: I want to be smacked sharply, right the hell on the tongue with COFFEE. Gimme, NOW. We all know what the f**k coffee is supposed to taste like, so what’s with the wimpy, weak-ass cafe au lait business? Coffee: beans, grounds, cuppa Joe, eating a Via straight out of the straw. We LIKE coffee, so why pussy-foot around it? I want to taste coffee like I’m drinking whatever it is through fresh grounds, packed into an in-line filter.

ExpInCoffeeMarble “Moonlight EXpresso” (spelling intentional) enters your mouth with a fistful of beans and scatters ’em about with vigor. This is SO coffee drenched that it tastes like what would happen if you put a half-ounce of nice vanilla liqueur into a cup and then poured sweetened coffee into it. It yodels “coffee” from nearby Sunlight Peak, like some caffeinated Swiss speed-freak celebrating the arrival of the latest boat from Guatemala. This is one of only two coffee liqueurs I’ve ever sampled that I would sit down and just sip, very happily, and want for nothing else…and I have, several times, already. It needs absolutely nothing in the way of a mixer but completely eliminates the need for Kahlua in most drinks that call for it. I must shamefully admit that my wife and I do enjoy the occasional White Russian (Yes, Lebowski fan, mea culpa), one of only four cocktails that I EVER drink. This was better than either the Mexican Kahlua I brought back from Cabo or my own version that I make every sixty days or so. It’s ridiculously mellow and full-bodied and delivers the coffee in a creamy manner (that marble again!) that is just stupidly satisfying. This is, hands down, THE best coffee liqueur I have ever tasted and it really isn’t even close, with the sole exception of Eastside (Portland) Distilling’s “Below Deck” Coffee Rum, which is rum, so it’s a bit apples ‘n’ oranges. And between those two, it would be Marble by a hair… or two. This is THE American coffee liqueur and one sip will tell you I’m right.   97 Points




Not only is Marble Distilling making booze like this but they’re even giving weary travelers a place to drink it. Marble’s on-premises Inn is a lavish, top-drawer facility that would be right at home in ritzy Aspen but here is presented with an unhurried atmosphere and is the only inn on the planet that’s inside a working distillery.

DistilleryInnRoomViewSoprisAs the photos show, the setting is pure Rocky Mountain magic. The decor and amenities are what you could expect from a company that’s willing to go all the way to South Africa just to make sure they have the right bottles. There are restaurants nearby and a quaint little village that has been named one of the country’s best towns by National Geographic and Outside Magazine. You would not, after all, want to travel all the way from Denver, be seduced by these gorgeous spirits, and then drive back, would you? No, I have not visited the Inn and, cheap bastard that I am, I may never stay there but I can tell you unequivocally that, on our next trip to Denver to see our son, we are some kinda going to Carbondale and bringing back bottles of everything. Marble Distilling is the epitome of Top Shelf and definitely brings Carbondale back to those days when Marble was King.




Speak yer piece, Pilgrim.

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