5 American Craft Whiskey Makers Worth Keeping An Eye On

The explosion in recent years in the number of American craft distilleries making their own whiskies is notable because, for fans of this form of liquor, it provides a great variety of choices across the country. Most small batch, all American made, a new wave of bourbons, ryes and single malts, among others, are capturing the imagination of a nation thirsty for whiskey. There’s likely a few distilleries at least in your home state making some form of this liquor, but only a true handful across the country rise to greater prominence at this point among their peers. Here are five you should consider if you want to get a true taste for the new wave of craft whiskey.

Balcones Distilling

image via Balcones Distilling

image via Balcones Distilling

The great state of Texas has plenty of land mass and needed local ingredients to play host to a range of new distilleries making whiskey but only one, Balcones out of Waco, has become a cult status icon. Though founder and former head distiller Chip Tate is no longer there working miracles in trying to create a true Texas whiskey tradition, the fruits of the labor he left behind still show results in both the awards the operation is constantly winning and the bottles flying off store shelves almost faster then the distillery can keep up with. Core offerings here include a unique single malt and variations of a blue corn expression.

Journeyman Distillery

image via Journeyman Distillery

image via Journeyman Distillery

If whiskey is designed for some to convey a sense of adventure, the folks at Journeyman in Michigan surely know how to help you find a good time. Working in an old factory who’s original maple floors date back to the 1800s, the vision here is mostly about whiskey, though a few other spirits are made as well. Organic is the name of the game with the dark spirits, which include a bourbon, rye, wheat and highly coveted single malt. Joining this lot as well is a blended whiskey with equal parts rye, wheat, corn and barley.

Hillrock Estate Distillery

image via Hillrock Estate Distillery

image via Hillrock Estate Distillery

There are many fine whiskey crafters in New York, but few take the “field to glass” grain approach of Hillrock Estate Distillery. Set on farm acreage in the Hudson Valley region this operation, working with noted distiller David Pickerell, produces just whiskey that’s released in small batches of beautiful bottles that rival some of Scotland’s finest lookers. Two of the most recent releases, a rye and a single malt, draw their base ingredients from that which is grown and processed on-site.

St. George Spirits

image via St. George Spirits

image via St. George Spirits

Out west in California sits a land of craft distilleries galore. One of the oldest not just in this state but in general is San Francisco Bay Area-based St. George Spirits. What has put them on the map in the whiskey world is their single malt offering, which is highly coveted each time a new batch is released to the public. The fact St. George has been around awhile gives them in edge in terms of age, as they can draw whiskey from barrels over ten years old.

Corsair Distillery

image via Corsair Distillery

image via Corsair Distillery

Corsair is a young distillery who operates out of Tennessee and Kentucky, which are both states where much larger and well known whiskey makers operate. The fact then they regularly garner awards for their innovative whiskey creations is all the more impressive. Two of their most popular expressions are a triple smoked malt whiskey and an aged rye distilled from malted and chocolate ryes. They also do a range of seasonal and experimental releases, some of which tend to be some pretty amazing mad whiskey science in a bottle.

About the author

Nino Marchetti

As the founder of The Whiskey Wash, I'm crazy about whiskey, I can tell you, and I aim to share this passion with you through this site. As for my professional background, I’m a writer and journalist by trade and an Internet dot-com veteran prior to that. My most recent venture prior to this was as the founder and editor-in-chief of EarthTechling, a leading consumer focused green technology news website. I also have an extensive collection of whiskies from both start up distilleries and centuries old operations in Scotland alike, sprinkled with some other odds and ends from around the world, that have provided me with a unique picture of what’s going on with this wonderful spirit.