Discover 8 American Craft Whiskeys

american whiskey

Take a walk in any major U.S. city and you’ll see restaurant signs stating “Eat Local,” “Farm-to-Table,” and “Fresh Local Ingredients.” Have you ever considered how to drink local? Whiskey and Bourbon are made across America with distillers utilizing grains, water and other raw materials native to their area.

Let’s do a refresh on American whiskey and Bourbon.

Flora Street Cafe
Flora Street Cafe

Whiskies are made around the world. Thanks to Congress, Bourbon was declared a distinctive product of the U.S. in 1964. Kentucky is home to 90% of Bourbon production. Recognized brands of major producers include: Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. Bourbon must be made with 51% corn and tends to be slightly sweeter than other American whiskeys, which are made from grains, like rye, wheat, and barley.

In the past, whiskey was considered a gentleman’s drink. That’s no longer true. Just ask the members of Women Who Whiskey boasting more than a dozen clubs in the U.S. alone. Women aren’t just drinking whiskey, they are making it too. In 2015, Marianne Barnes became the first woman Master Distiller in Kentucky since Prohibition. Women are also famous mixologists, creating a spin on the classic whiskey cocktails like Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Mint Julep, and 7 & 7. Try the “Smoked Peach Thyme” cocktail from Lauren Festa at Flora Street Cafe, Dallas, made with Herman Marshall Rye and smoked Texas peaches, thyme and Lillet.

Today, Bourbon and American whiskey are produced in almost every state in the Union with more than 1,000 craft distilleries licensed. Searching across the country, we recommend these craft distilleries from four distinct American regions that use local, indigenous ingredients ranging from Vermont oak trees to Tennessee sorghum to Rocky Mountain snowmelt. Try these outstanding whiskeys on-site on a personal tour. Join a Whiskey-by-the-month club. Discover the homegrown excellence of American Whiskey.

Northeast Whiskies

Vermont: WhistlePig Farm, Shoreham, VT

WhistlePig Farm
WhistlePig Farm
Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey

It doesn’t get much more “farm-to-bottle” than this whiskey. WhistlePig grows the rye on their farm, ages the whiskey in barrels created from their Vermont oak trees, and the water they use in production is from their own well. If you like a whiskey with some spice, try their 100% rye at 100 proof that has been aged for 10 years.

Straight Rye Whiskey


New York: Kings County Distillery, The Brooklyn Navy Yard, NYKings country Gift BxNamed 2016 Distillery of the Year by American Distilling Institute, Kings County Distillery is New York City’s oldest operating whiskey distillery. If your plans don’t include a trip to Brooklyn soon, you can try their unique creations including:

Kings County Gift Box (Also includes Spiced Whiskey, Moonshine and Peated Bourbon)

Also try: Chocolate Whiskey and Kings County Bourbon

Southeast Whiskey

South Carolina: High Wire Distillery, Charleston, SC

high wire sorghum whiskey

Trained at the Culinary Institute of America and a former baker, Scott Blackwell brings his unique culinary techniques to distilled spirits. If you have a sweet tooth, they offer a Tennessee-sourced Sorghum-based whiskey. If you are more of a traditionalist with a twist, try their Carolina Gold rice bran whiskey. If you like raisin notes, select the Madeira finished Bourbon.

New South Revival Sorghum Whiskey

Also try: New South Revival Four-Grain Bourbon and New South Revival Madeira Finished Bourbon

Kentucky: Corsair Distillery, Kentucky and Tennessee locations

Andrew Webber and Darek Bell, Corsair Distillery
Andrew Webber and Darek Bell, Corsair Distillery
corsair triple smoke

In 2013, Corsair Distillery was named Whisky Advocate’s “Craft Distillery of the Year.” The distillery origins were in a garage, and now tours are available at their distinctive distilleries locations: Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee. This distiller likes to play with alternative grains like rye and quinoa, resulting in a full range of whiskeys.

Corsair Artisan Distillery Triple Smoke Whiskey

Also try: Corsair Artisan Distillery Ryemageddon Rye Whiskey and Corsair Artisan Distillery Quinoa Whiskey

Midwest Whiskey

Illinois: Koval Distillery, Chicago, Illinois

Koval Distillery, Chicago
Koval Distillery, Chicago

The grain millet is popular in Asia and Africa. Koval sources millet grown in the Midwest to use in their 100% Millet Whiskey. Millet is a component in their single barrel Bourbon as well. Both whiskeys are unfiltered and organic. Koval is the first distillery in Chicago since Prohibition.

KOVAL_2014-Millet Web

Millet Whiskey

Also try: Single Barrel Bourbon

Best Whiskey in the West 

Texas: Garrison Brothers Distillery, Hye Texas

Garrison Bourbon

Garrison Brothers may be the smallest and oldest legal whiskey distillery outside Austin, but they offer Texas’ biggest, boldest taste. Garrison sources their corn and wheat from Texas, while acquiring barley from Pacific Northwest and Canada. Garrison Brothers is quickly becoming synonymous with outstanding American whiskey.

Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey


Colorado: Breckenridge Distillery, Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge Distillery
Breckenridge Distillery
Breckenridge Bourbon

Breckenridge, Colorado is best known as a ski resort city. Rocky Mountain snowmelt is used to bring this high rye content whiskey to a lower proof that would allow you to still be standing on your skis. It is the world’s highest elevation distillery.

Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey

Washington: Westland Distillery, Seattle Washington

Westland Distillery
Westland Distillery

For most whisky connoisseurs, “single malt” is designated for Scotch Whisky. Whiskey minds are being opened with Westland’s American Single Malt made from Washington State barley and aged in new American oak barrels.

Westland distillery American Single Malt

American Single Malt Whiskey

Whiskey Every Month Programs:

If you want to explore a few Bourbons or whiskeys throughout the year, you can subscribe to Mouth’s monthly programs.

Bourbon Every Month

Whiskey Every Month

Beyond the bottle: 5 books on American whiskey

For the history buff…

Bourbon Empire

Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey by Reid Mitenbuler

Newcomers to whiskey searching for their style…

Bourbon Curious by Minnick

Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker by Fred Minnick

For a new view of an old art…

kings county moonshining haskel spoelman

The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey by Dave Haskell and Colin Spoelman

 Going beyond American whiskey to the world…

World Atlas of Whisky Dave broom

The World Atlas of Whisky by Dave Broom

For the ultimate mixology hostess…

Whiskey Cocktail by Burrow

Whiskey Cocktails by Warren Bobrow: Rediscovered Classics and Contemporary Craft Drinks Using the World’s Most Popular Spirit

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