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The Best Up And Coming Alcohol Brands, According To Bartenders

The best thing about the rising popularity of whiskey, gin, tequila, and other spirits throughout the world is that new and exciting distilleries open every week. Many are producing high-quality, creative spirits and others… aren’t. Either way, no matter where you live, there seems to be a new, often innovative distillery within driving distance.

One distillery that isn’t exactly brand new (but is a baby compared to more well-known brands) is Utah’s High West. Founded in 2007, the distillery has gained a cult following in the last few years because of offerings like Campfire and Bourye.

“It’s a brand that every whiskey lover should be aware of,” says Mark Tubridy, mixologist at 21 Club in New York City. “Their double rye is one of the boldest and spiciest on the market and they feature an exceptional array of whiskeys with special finishes, such as A Midwinter Night’s Dram, which is their Rendezvous Rye rested in both French oak and port barrels.”

The distillery was founded when former biochemist David Perkins and his wife decided to open a distillery after an inspiring trip to Maker’s Mark. Young distilleries that are thriving — High West, FEW, and Corsair among them — make us wonder what other up and coming distilleries we should have on our radars. That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders for their insight on what distilleries we should be keeping an eye on.

Westland Distillery

Kalani Ben, bartender at The Spare Room in Los Angeles

They aren’t necessarily new in the game, but for me it’s Westland Distillery. The product they produce is always at a top-shelf quality and consistency thorough out all of their marks. My personal favorite is the Garryana. They are the best non-bourbon trail whiskey in the U.S.

Greenbar Distillery

Justin Campbell, beverage director for The h.wood Group in Los Angeles

The best up and coming spirits brand in the US is Greenbar. They make some great tasting liqueurs that are organic, without dyes and they plant a tree for every bottle sold.

Lo-Fi Aperitifs

Gary Wallach, director of food & beverage at Arlo SoHo in New York City

I like what the LoFi team out in California is producing. Interesting American Amaro and vermouth that has a lot of depth, color, and character. Incredibly fun to play around with those products.

Wigle Whiskey

Lauren Mathews, lead bartender at Urbana in Washington, DC

There are so many! But I love Wigle Whiskey from my hometown of Pittsburgh. Not only are they coming out with amazing whiskey, but they’re not afraid to experiment with different spirits. Their Ginever (their take on Genever) is one of my favorites to use in cocktails. Plus, they have amazing cider!

High Wire Distilling

Miles Macquarrie, co-owner & beverage director of Watchman’s in Atlanta

What is the best up and coming spirits brand every drinker should know about? High Wire Distilling. They’ve got a strong presence in the South, but everyone should know about them.

Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur

Zachary Pease, My Friend Duke in New York City

Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur is pretty great especially for stirred cocktails where you may want the coffee flavor but without all the sugar.

Mezcal Alipus

Keith Zintakmon, bartender at JRDN in San Diego

Mezcal Alipus. This brand has six different mezcal lines, all crafted by different Mezcaleros. Trying their products side by side really demonstrates the sense of terroir that agave can acquire.

Cenote Tequila

Roman Cervantes, bartender at La Pulperia in New York City

My favorite up and coming alcohol brand is Cenote Tequila. It’s a 100% Blue Agave Weber aged in American Oak barrels.

Drumshanbo Gin

Jon Baer, manager of beverage and bakery operations at The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated

Drumshanbo Gin – An Irish Gin with pronounced citrus notes and restrained juniper. Great for mixing and a great introductory gin for people who think they don’t like gin.

Copper & Kings

Amy Wong, lead bartender at King Tide Fish & Shell in Portland, Oregon

Copper & Kings. Aside from rock and roll aging, they have released a portfolio of Eau-de-Vie based products including absinthes, curacao brandies, and new western gins with new unexperienced flavors. Their portfolio shows us the many things you can do with grapes.

New York Distilling Company

Adam Cornelius, director of operations at Little Beet Table in Greenwich, Connecticut

New York Distilling Company. They are young by whiskey standards at less than 10 years old. Their lineup of different gins is second to none in the U.S. and they have been cranking out some amazing New York rye whiskey the last few years as well. They started out very good and just get better and better every year.

Dassai Sake

Trevor Alderson, bartender at Blue Smoke in New York City

I think Dassai Sake is quite cool. I usually have a difficult time selling sake to the American crowd, but these guys have done a really good job at homing in on the market they’re trying to capture: Sauvignon Blanc drinkers. Dassai 50 hits those same stone fruit notes, it’s smooth and lighter-bodied than many sakes, and it has a deliciously clean finish. I would even serve it in a wine glass rather than a traditional sake glass.

Empirical Spirits

Liam Deegan, partner at Barrel Proof in New Orleans

Not sure if there’s still space on the bandwagon for me to jump on, but Empirical is making some really wild and interesting products that I recently was lucky enough to try.

Treaty Oak Distilling

Kelly McAuliffe, manager at Salazar in Los Angeles

Treaty Oak out of Austin. Most people think of Texas and whiskey, but what these folks are doing with gin is out of this world. Try the Waterloo Old Yaupon. Yaupon is from the holly family and grows wild across the Texas plains. The result is a gin that coats your mouth with kaffir lime, lemongrass, wildflowers… it’s like a sweet desert sunset in a glass.

2bar Spirits

Cheston Overman, lead bartender at Bookstore Bar & Café in Seattle

2bar Spirits out of Seattle is the first local bourbon I’ve tried that I think really got it right. It’s a great bourbon, locally sourced and locally made in the Pacific Northwest.

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