W Aspen hosts first ever Stargazing & Spirits event

The moon seen through Aspen Stargazing's telescope during W Aspen's first Stargazing & Spirits event Monday at Mollie Gibson Park.
Jonson Kuhn/The Aspen Times

From the Big Dipper to the rings of Saturn and even the moon itself, with W Aspen’s Stargazing & Spirits event, if you drink just enough whiskey, you might even see Uranus.

W Aspen hosted its first ever Stargazing & Spirits event on Monday night at Mollie Gibson Park. Led by Ryan Eliason, star guide and owner of Aspen Stargazing, guests were taken on an astronomical adventure to discover planets, star clusters, and constellations, all while enjoying distinct culinary offerings and curated whiskey pairings.

W Aspen’s collection of whiskey offered through their Spring & Dean Single Barrel Whiskey Club for Monday’s Stargazing & Spirits event. Also featured, Aspen Distillers Fear and Loathing Gonzo Whiskey, in partnership with the Hunter S. Thompson estate.
Jonson Kuhn/The Aspen Times

“I was actually in Tahoe at one of our other properties in August for a luxury event, and they had stargazing on Northstar Mountain, and I thought it was a really cool idea,” said Chris Jaycock, W Aspen general manager. “We thought why not take it to the next level and not just sit out on a mountain with a starguide but actually bring food, drink, and curate an experience?” 

Through W Aspen’s exclusive Spring & Dean Single Barrel Whiskey Club, guests had their choosing from such selections as Weller Full Proof, Stagg Jr, Heaven’s Door 7yr Single Barrel, Barrell Bourbon 8yr Old, and Ry3 – all features of the single barrel program.

Additionally, Aspen Distillers also attended to add not only to the unique whiskey selection, but also the unique Aspen experience by offering the “First Edition” release of Fear and Loathing Gonzo Whiskey, a project that has been four years in the making and is partnered with the estate of Hunter S. Thompson.

Currently known best for their Aspen Vodka, Aspen Distillers founder Matt Patel said soon there will be multiple product offerings within their Gonzo Whiskey program, with a total of 1,000 bottles of the Fear and Loathing “First Edition.” 

“Shortly, we will release Fear and Loathing in a new label design, featuring the artwork of Ralph Steadman,” he said. “In addition, down the road, our audience will see Dr. Gonzo and Five Hearts with Staedman/HST art labels. Gonzo Whiskey Co. will also offer highly-allocated signature bottles under the name Hunter S. Thompson and Owl Farm Select.”

Ryan Eliason, owner of Aspen Stargazing, leads a crowd through a guided tour of the stars during W Aspen’s first ever Stargazing & Spirits event on Monday night.
Jonson Kuhn/The Aspen Times

Most recently, W Aspen hosted its inaugural Bourbon Heritage Month Tasting earlier in September, benefiting the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club and AspenOUT. Next up, the hotel will host the second annual Spirit of Agave Fest on Oct. 15 as a way of supporting LatinX House and its Raizado Festival while also promoting W Aspen’s mezcals and tequilas within the Spring & Dean collection.

“We actually have approximately 20 different brands coming to the hotel,” Jaycock said. “We’re just proud to support local 501(c)(3) (nonprofits) and be able to give back to our community with an affordable event that educates people between the differences in the mainstream tequilas and mezcals and what might be considered a little more of a premium brands that they might not otherwise have access to.”

Stargazing & Spirits event is not yet an active bookable package; however, W Aspen insider Diego Martínez González said the hotel does have plans of bringing it back for the spring and summer months. Furthermore, he said that while the event is not an innately bookable experience, W Aspen is happy to make the adventure possible for guests upon request.

“We make the impossible possible for the guests, so we create one-of-a-kind experiences just like this one and especially because W Aspen is the only hotel that creates this kind of experience. Aspen is such a beautiful place for the stars, and it’s amazing that we can share it with our guests and our VIPs,” he said. “We are whatever whenever, so we do anything for our guests.”