There’s a surprising amount of research involved in writing about alcohol. It’s easy to make a mistake about a flavor profile, a style, or — most commonly — a producer. Sometimes you think that you’re supporting some small upstart only to find out that they’re owned by a conglomerate like Diageo or InBev. Does this mean that the cool little brand is no longer indie? Not exactly, but it does mean they’re not as desperate for a writeup as some of the unaffiliated brewers or distillers out there.
My goal in creating this list was to ask our best whiskey writers — Zach Johnston and Chris Osburn — to shout out their favorite independent distillers here in the US. We aimed for true small-time operations, with no parent companies (though big brands make this notoriously difficult to discern). Check out our picks and add your personal favorites in the comments.
– Steve Bramucci, Editorial Director UPROXX Life
Balcones Baby Blue, Texas
Story: Balcones is making whiskey magic happen in Texas. The small distillery prides itself on using local, sustainable ingredients for every part of the whiskey making process. Their Texas bourbon is a great place to start your journey with Balcones. But for us, it’s their unique Baby Blue Corn Whiskey that really shines as a must-try example of whiskey that no one else is making right now.
Tasting Notes: Baby Blue gives you a rush of rich, earthy corn right away. That corn feeling starts to lean towards a caramel kettle corn nature, with a spiciness next to slight roasted coffee bitterness. Next, fruit overtakes the palate with highlights of sweet apricots and tropical fruit flavors.
A slight citrus note comes in before a rich toffee and corn sweetness take over at the end. There isn’t another whiskey like this. –ZJ