Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Whiskey Wednesday: Beyond Kentucky - Whiskey Distilleries in the Other 49

Last week we examined the nine distilleries in Kentucky. This week, we attempt to create an exhaustive list of every non-Kentucky whiskey distillery in the US. Unlike many of the Kentucky distilleries, most of these distilleries market their whiskey under their own name.

Looking at this list, it is amazing how the microdistillery category has grown. A couple of years ago, I gathered all of the microdistilled whiskey I could find for my American single malt tasting and ended up with four. The list below shows the explosion of these distilleries along with the diversity of whiskies they are producing, which includes nearly every recognized American whiskey category.

Outside of the Tennessee Whiskey distilleries, A. Smith Bowman and Lawrenceburg, Indiana, all of the distilleries on the list below are micros, and I only included those that are actually selling whiskey. There are many other projects that are just starting up or waiting to get their first bottles on the market. In fact, with new micros popping up all the time, this list was much harder to pin down than the Kentucky list. After a lot of work, though, I believe we've crated one of the few complete lists of microdistillery whiskey. If, however, you know of any that I missed, please drop me a line or a comment.

You may notice that many of these microdistilleries produce corn whiskey. That's because corn whiskey is the only type of American whiskey that does not have to be aged. This quality makes it attractive to start-up whiskey distilleries because they can put it right on the market while they are waiting for other whiskies to mature.


Anchor Distilling: The makers of Anchor Steam Beer in San Francisco opened one of the first microdistilleries, making single malt rye whiskey under the name Old Potrero.

C&C Shine: This Monterey area distillery is somewhat of a novelty line, making unaged rye spirit that is sold with a small barrel or a piece of oak for ageing. They don't label it whiskey, probably because it is unaged, but once you age it at home, whiskey is what you have. Along with their Monterey Rye Spirit, they make Clear Madness California Moonshine, a corn-based spirit.

Charbay: This Napa Valley distillery has issued limited releases at extravagant prices of a single malt and a hop flavored whiskey.

St. George: Like many of the micros, St. George makes vodka and brandies as well as a very nice Absinthe. They make a single malt which is probably the fruitiest whiskey I've ever tasted.

St. James: Located in Irwindale, California, St. James Spirits makes Peregrine Rock single malt.


Colorado Gold: A new micro in Colorado's Western Slope, they are currently making barely aged corn whiskey and have plans for Bourbon.

Peachstreet Distillers: This Colorado distillery has recently marketed a two year old Bourbon labeled Colorado Straight Bourbon.

Stranahan's: One of the most well reviewed of the new microdistilleries, Stranhan's makes its single malt Colorado Whiskey from local barley.


Lawrenceburg (Angostura/CL World Brands Ltd.): Angostura, of bitters fame, owns this Indiana distillery. While they don't market any of their own whiskey, the distillery produces Cougar Bourbon and rye for the Foster's Corporation. Cougar is an export-only whiskey market primarily in Australia. Lawrenceburg is also said to make the whiskey component of Diageo's Seagram's 7 Crown blended whiskey.


High Plains Distillery: This Kansas distillery makes Most Wanted Kansas Bourbon and has also made a single malt, a rye and a wheat whiskey.


Triple Eight Distillery: This Nantuckett distillery's single malt, known as Notch (i.e., Not Scotch) is the most expensive new American whiskey I know of at $888 (or triple eight, get it?). They also have made Nor'Easter Bourbon, though I don't know if that whiskey is still in production.


New Holland Brewing Co.: Another brewery which has branched out to whiskey, New Holland makes Zepplin Bend Straight Malt Whiskey.

New York

Tuthilltown: Tuthilltown has recently expanded distribution of their line of whiskies which includes: Hudson Baby Bourbon, Hudson Four Grain Bourbon, Hudson Manhattan Rye, Hudson Single Malt and Old Gristmill Corn Whiskey.


Woodstone Creek Distillery: A Cincinnati winery recently turned distillery, Woodstone Creek makes a Bourbon, a malt whiskey and a blended whiskey.


Cascade Peak Spirits: This organic vodka distillery has released a rye whiskey and is also working on Bourbon and corn whiskey.

Clear Creek: This Portland distillery uses imported Scottish barley to make America's most peated whiskey, McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt.

Edgefield: One of the earlier entries in the micro world, but still hard to find, this Oregon distillery makes Hogshead single malt and Devil's Bit rye whiskey.

Rogue: Following Anchor's lead, this popular brewery recently jumped into distilling with Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey, a four grain whiskey make in Oregon.


George Dickel (Diageo). The other Tennessee Whiskey, owned by liquor giant Diageo, is my favorite of the Tennessians.

Jack Daniel's (Brown Forman). Makers of the world's top selling whiskey, Jack Daniels is, for much of the world, the first and last name in whiskey, not to mention t-shirts, barbecue sauce and other trinkets.


A. Smith Bowman(Buffalo Trace/Sazerac Co.): A. Smith Bowman is your source for Virgina Gentleman, the only Virginia Bourbon. This venerable distillery has been owned by Kentucky's Buffalo Trace since 2003.

Copper Fox Distillery: This Sperryville, Virginia distillery makes Wasmund's single malt whiskey and an unaged rye spirit; they are working on a rye whiskey.

Virginia Moonshine: Makers of Virginia Lightening corn whiskey and Kopper Kettle three grain whiskey.

West Virginia

Isaiah Morgan Distillery: A winery that makes an unaged rye as well as Southern Moon, an unaged corn liquor.

West Virginia Distilling Co.: Claiming the banner of legal moonshine, this Morgantown, West Virginia distillery produces corn whiskey to use in its Mountain Moonshine Spirit Whiskey.


Death's Door Spirits: This distillery only recently started marketing its Death's Door Wheat Whiskey.

As far as I know, this list, combined with last week's list of Kentucky distilleries, constitutes an up to date list of every distillery in the United States that is currently distilling and selling whiskey. There will be more to come, as I know there are distilleries starting up, ageing whiskey and even planing releases in Maine, Texas, Utah and Washington state, among other places. Clearly, the American microdistillery movement is in full swing and there is lots out there to taste and experiment with.

In looking at the last two weeks of lists, you may ask, what about Black Maple Hill, Wathen's, Michter's and all of those other Bourbons I see on the shelf of my local liquor store? We will answer all of those questions next week with our list of Independent bottlers. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know this is a two year old post, but I'd like to comment on the Nor'Easter Bourbon. It's actually a Heaven Hill bourbon, aged for two years then shipped to Nantucket for two more years of aging.