Wednesday, February 12, 2014

10 Microdistillers We Love, and So Should You

Three of these craft spirits made it to Thrillist’s top ten.

Recently Thrillist asked Cocktail Buzz to participate in a panel of booze-biz writers to name our favorite microdistillers. So we gave Thrillist staff writer Dan Gentile a ranked list of ten distillers with a short blurb about why each one is special.
  1. New York Distilling. The Dorothy Parker American Gin is a favorite. Its botanical mix, which includes cinnamon and hibiscus, makes mixing easy. You can get a little more creative at the bar depending on what flavors you want to highlight in the gin. Or in a simple gin and tonic, in which you can detect the cinnamon. Fabulous in a Gibson or a Negroni with Punt e Mes vermouth.
  2. Clear Creek Distillery. What’s not to love about Clear Creek? Clear Creek’s Pear Brandy has beguiled many of our guests, especially during the holidays. We adore it in The Wink, a drink mixed with Moscato d’Asti and a little celery bitters. And if you want something that’ll blow your mind, look no further than its Douglas Fir eau de vie. It tastes exactly as you think it might.
  3. Piedmont Distillers. We love the all-natural Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine for its flavor combo of nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Perfect in a Kitty Carlisle. The Midnight Moon moonshine is smooth and is perfect for those who want to play with infusions—that is if you don’t already sip on one of their all-natural fruit and spice–infused moonshines.
  4. Philadelphia Distilling. Bluecoat is an exceptional London dry gin. Our first whiff and sip beguiled us in a mere second. Organic juniper and organic citrus peels create an aroma and flavor that are one-of-a-kind and very complex. You may even want to sip this one on its own. Or try it in a Vesper.
  5. Ransom Spirits. If you’ve never tasted Old Tom Gin, you’re in for a treat. Its subtle malty sweetness shines through any drink you mix it with, and it makes a righteous French 75. We love the old-timey label.
  6. Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery. This distillery’s eau de vie is delightful, but its American Fruit Bartlett Pear Liqueur and Sour Cherry cordials have kept us even more delighted when we need to add some fruit flavor to a cocktail we’re mixing up, such as in an Oh Pear and Singapore Sling, respectively.
  7. House Spirits Distillery. Those who have heard of aquavit, but haven’t taken the plunge yet, should start here if caraway is not their favorite flavor. Their Krogstad Aquavit has plenty of star anise to balance the bright bitterness of the caraway. Try it in a Fjord Cocktail, perfect for a winter night by the fire.
  8. Greenhook Ginsmiths. Besides its lovely American Dry Gin, Greenhook makes a Beach Plum Gin liqueur sure to rival any sloe gin, pacharan, or mirto. Over ice, with a splash of soda, and a lemon twist is all you need, plus a porch and some summertime weather.
  9. North Shore Distillery. We love the idea of processing unique gins every year depending on what the spirits-geek couple who produce these gins decides goes into the mix. The aquavit is exceptional too, with cumin in the fore.
  10. Haleakala Distillers. Aloha and a bottle of rum. Located on the slopes of Haleakala on one of the most beautiful places on Earth, this Maui distillery produces some amazing rums, ideal for sipping on the lanai near the beach, in a tiki drink, or just plain sipping with a splash of water if you live Upcountry.
And the winners are . . .
Here are Dan and Thrillist’s results for The Best Craft Distillers in America. Note that we did not include some of the distilleries that showed up in the final results because we did not perceive them as distillers, micro or otherwise. If we did, we definitely would have had a few of them on our list, most notably High West, Laird’s, Templeton, Death’s Door, and Whistle Pig.