About US Spirits

The spirit industry in America is much like the beer industry; some large corporate distillers turning out good quality vodka, gin and whisky along with a growing number of artisan producers of these same products.

In large cities such as Chicago and San Francisco, small distilleries turn out superb spirits, many of them organically produced. Vodkas and gins are most common, but there are even a few examples of single malt whiskey.

This is certainly an encouraging alternative to the commercially produced spirits in the US, but the truth is that these artisan spirits are a drop in the bucket next to the huge amount of vodkas, gins and whiskeys made by the large companies and are sold in huge numbers; given the promotional money spent by these firms.

But the new competition is a bright sign at least in terms of some of the famous whiskey producers that have recently introduced specialty bourbons, aged for a dozen or more years, many of them single barrel products. They are responding to a public looking for more high quality American spirits. The success of these products is a great thing for the American sprits industry.
Top Picks for USA
207652
Whidbey Island Distillery
Blackberry Liqueur
Opaque violet black color. Exotic bold aromas and flavors of spiced berries and apricots, floral honey, exotic tea, and chocolate with a tangy, moderately sweet medium body and a warming, complex, finish with nuances of Asian spices and cola. A fantastically flavorful and complex berry liqueur.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
214079
Frey Ranch
Gin
Clear color. Bold, pungent, piney complex aromas and flavors of pine sap, lacquer, dried flowers, and smoked pepper and campfire fire with a creamy, lively, dryish medium-to-full body and a peppery, complex, long pine needle, honeyed juniper, and chalk finish. An amazingly powerful and intense gin with 3D fresh piney juniper flavors.
97 points $32.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
219890
Old Forester
Ready-to-Drink Mint Julep
Medium golden amber color. Oaky aromas and flavors of masa and caramel, violet, eucalyptus, and demerara with a glycerous, sweet medium-to-full body and a warming, involved, medium-length aromatic bitters, crystalized ginger, peppermint, and caraway seed finish. A dead ringer for a freshly-made Mint Julep.
96 points $24.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
216366
Breckenridge
"Dark Arts" Malt Mash Whiskey
Brilliant gold color. Earthy aromas and flavors of saddle leather and soap, white chocolate toffee, banana raisin muffin, and clay with a satiny, dryish medium-to-full body and a tingling, stimulating, medium-long honeyed dried fruits, brown spices, minerals, and tobacco leaf finish. A complex interplay of dark fruits and leathery notes make this a fine sipping and cigar choice.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
215319
Old New Orleans
20th Anniversary Blend "King Creole" Rum
Brilliant gold color. Creamy aromas and flavors of chocolate maple nut fudge, spicy fruit chutney, honey vanilla bean gelato, and copper with a silky, vibrant, fruity light-to-medium body and a tingling, long vanilla buttercream and cola, tiramisu, pink pepper, and minerals finish. A superbly spicy and intricate sipping rum that will cover all bases.
96 points $84.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
214339
Conniption
Navy Strength Gin
Clear color. Bright, clean, floral fresh grassy aromas and flavors of licorice cream, fig and dried citrus, herb pepper bread, and resinous juniper with an even, vibrant, fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, refreshing, long mixed peppercorns, herbal honey, cinnamon ginger bread, and minerals finish. A lively, spicy gin that will be great in cocktails.
96 points $38.95
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
211442
Balsam
American Amaro
Tasted Neat. Dark brown black color. Complex, spicy herbal aromas of anise, gingerbread, chocolate spice raisin cake, and pink peppercorn with a velvety, vibrant, moderately sweet medium-full body and a warming, long bitter barks, wormwood tea, sarsaparilla, and grilled citrus peels finish. A bold, fantastically rich and balanced amaro with cascading waves of flavor. Tasted as Vermouth. Dark violet black color. Bright, spicy, fruity complex aromas of cherry rhubarb pie, rich baking spices, delicate herbs, and chocolate drizzled blood orange with an even, racy, sweet medium body and a tingling, long bitter barks, wormwood tea, toasty cedar, and cardamom finish. A sensationally vibrant and flavor packed vermouth with great balance, style and length; sure to be a hit on its own or in craft cocktails.
96 points $31.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
210107
Jim Beam
Distiller's Masterpiece Bourbon Whiskey
Copper color. Lively, complex aromas of custard, fruit cake, and rich spices with a satiny, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity full body and a warming, very long spiced nuts, dried fruits, minerals, and peppery spices finish. A superb sipping whisky with great power and balance.
96 points $199.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
209482
broVo
Jammy Red Vermouth
Dark garnet color. Bold, floral, herbal aromas of menthol mint, pine sap, eucalyptus, grilled grapefruit, and stewed wild berries with a supple, sweet-and-sour medium-to-full body and a warming, very complex, long candied jasmine, candied orange peels, ginger mint gum, and peppery Asian spices finish with silky tannins. A fantastic roller coaster of forest and Asian spice flavors for adventurous cocktails.
96 points $19.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
205767
Ballast Point
Devil's Share California Moonshine
Clear. Bold aromas of caramelized bananas and nuts, candy corn, and spicy meringue with a silky, fruity-yet-dry medium-full body and a long, coconut cream pie, peppery spice, honey, anise cookie, and white ash accented finish. Remarkably flavorful and smooth; a delicious artisan moonshine that is a benchmark of the category.
96 points $24.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab