You Owe It To Yourself To Try Whiskey From These Small US Distilleries

Getty Image

It’s a great time for whiskey lovers. New distilleries are popping up all over the country. Local, sustainable, and small-time operators are makings some excellent booze, from sea to shining sea. A great bottle of whiskey no longer has to come from a massive conglomerate half-a-country away. The best whiskey might be getting made in your own backyard.

We love to talk about whiskey around these parts because, well, there’s a lot to talk about. Big brands do tend to draw the focus of the conversation, though. And, you know what, that’s generally fine. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to talk about with the small players in the distilling game too.

That’s why we’re listing our favorite small whiskey distilleries around the country. These are the local bottles that don’t have to spend days in shipping containers traveling Kentucky to Honolulu. Hopefully, you can find a few of them at your local bar or liquor store. If you’re not in the part of the country where these bottles are made or sold, maybe think about taking a summer vacation there to sample the goods.

Sons of Liberty Spirits Co. — Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s Sons of Liberty Spirits is doing something wholly unique in the distilling world. They’re distilling whiskeys that are seasonal spirits centered around seasonal beers.

The Sons of Liberty gold medal award-winning single malt American whiskey and bourbons are made with precision and grace — exhibiting how innovative thinking leads to new tastes in whiskey. Battle Cry — a single malt whiskey fermented with Belgian-style ale yeasts — and their rye-heavy (read: spicy) bourbons are fantastic bottles to have on hand for any serious whiskey drinker or cocktail mixer.

Dry Fly Distillery — Washington

Washington state’s Dry Fly Distilling is a blend of the great Pacific Northwest rugged wild spaces and its vast agriculture community in a bottle of booze. The distillery prides itself on using ingredients from sustainable, local farms to make their whiskey.

Dry Fly’s award-winning wheat whiskeys are unique expressions that reflect a farm-to-glass experience. They also distill a triticale whiskey. That’s a hybrid grain that blends barley and rye into a single grass, giving the whiskey a one-of-a-kind whiskey flavor of spice, malt, and herbs.

Garrison Brothers Distillery — Texas

Garrison Brothers Distillery is a small, family-run operation in Texas’ Hill Country. This is a whiskey that’s unabashedly Texan in its taste and style. It’s bold booze that will surprise with depth and layered nuance.

Their Small Batch Whiskey is a great entry point to the distillery. There’s a straightforward nature to the brown booze that’s dialed into classic whiskey flavors. Then there’s their Balmorhea Bourbon. It’s twice barreled over four years and is one of the best examples of non-Kentucky bourbon being made in America today.

Ghost Coast Distillery — Georgia

Down Savannah way, Ghost Coast Distillery is making some fine craft whiskey. The distillery basks in the abundance of Georgian agriculture and heat to create a whiskey that’s as refined as it’s sippable.

The Ghost Coast ginger and honey expressions are wonderful whiskey bases for making summer cocktails. The Straight Bourbon is a delight. The mash bill (recipe) is a combination of corn, wheat, barley, and, surprisingly, oats. That last component makes this a unique bourbon that’s worth seeking out.

12.05 Distillery — Indiana

Indiana’s 1205 Distillery celebrates the day Prohibition ended (December 5th, 1933) right in their name. The distillery takes farm-to-glass very seriously and sources local, sustainable agricultural products to make their first-class spirits.

Rye heavy whiskeys are the star of the show at 1205. Their peated bourbons are also worth seeking out if you’re in the Indiana/Illinois area. The peat adds a new dimension to the uniquely American corn-fueled spirit that’s a nice change of pace.

Glacier Distilling Company

Montana’s Glacier Distilling came about when a group of friends was sitting around a fire during a snowstorm high up in the Montana mountains. The idea was to take a cue from old-school bootleggers and make an unaged whiskey they could start selling in months, instead of years. It worked and, now, they put out some of the best whiskey you can find in Montana.

The Josephine’s Shine is an unaged whiskey made from a mix of corn and rye. It’s spicy and hot. If you’re into something a little more subtle, check out Glacier’s gold-medal-winning North Fork. It’s a corn-based wonder that’s almost too easy to sip. Also, don’t sleep on their Huckleberry liqueur. It’s a local schnapps that’ll have you longing for lazy summer days in Montana’s mountains.