What’s better than giving a great gift? Creating an opportunity for a friend or loved one to create lasting memories. So, instead of Insta-worthy kitchen gadgets and gizmos — there are plenty every season, see the internet — here are a few epicurean Aspen experiences to stoke excitement after the holiday buzz fades.
ULTIMATE BOTTLE SERVICE: DIY DISTILLERY AT MARBLE DISTILLING CO. & THE DISTILLERY INN
An intoxicatingly epic present for spirits aficionados: A weeklong educational immersion at Carbondale’s award-winning craft distillery — one of few truly sustainable operations, and perhaps first in the world with luxury lodging onsite. Lucky participants will learn the whole process of making whiskey or bourbon: how to mash grain, ferment, distill and select/hydrate a 53-gallon aging cask for storage. While that hard-won barrel hangs at the distillery up to three years (required to develop its full expression), apprentices will return home after six days with a miniature, three-gallon cask for comparison, as MDC distillers send samples from the larger cask annually. It’s good ol’ hands-on work—a half day alone involves moving soaked grains in a “stripping” run to MDC’s 500-gallon distillation still — but worth claiming some 250 finished bottles to label and sign as one’s own. Or select a two-day “lite” version of the class, for which MCD will pre-mash and -ferment in advance, leaving folks to make whiskey cuts, barrel, and, if desired, bottle the signature spirit deserving of unfiltered bragging rights. $12,000, limited to six guests; special lodging rates; marbledistilling.com
COOK IN A CUSTOM SPRINTER VAN
Gourmet breakfast with National Park views? Aspen Custom Vans will make that dream a reality. The company’s adventure rental, “Blue,” a 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter — with solar power, diesel heater, and handsome interior wood paneling — features a tidy kitchen ideal for on-the-road entertaining in style.
“Blue has an outward facing kitchen so you can chat with friends, with a fold-up cutting/prep space (when) sitting on the passenger seat that swivels,” says company co-founder Kimbo Brown-Schirato. Blue, which sleeps two, is equipped with a sink, mini fridge and all tools to cook a proper meal, including well-seasoned cast-iron pans, gas cooktop and tableware. Though certain outdoorsmen might scoff at spending an extra minute within walls, “We also include a regular outdoor stove in case you’d rather cook outside,” Brown-Schirato says. Starting at $210/night, three-night minimum; outdoorsy.com/rv/3914