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
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
Moscow Mule
Cloudy straw beige color. Earthy aromas of fresh cut ginger and pepper with a tangy and nicely tingling medium-to-full body and a long, peppery, honeyed ginger finish. On the rocks brings out an interesting tropical fruit dimension. A tremendous rendition of a Moscow Mule cocktail with outstanding natural ginger character; a world class RTD. Serve on the rocks.
96 points $19.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Doc Pepe’s Lab
Cuvée Reserve Barrel Old Fashioned
Dark amber color. Sweet aromas of caramel, fresh cigar, and grilled peach with a syrupy, very sweet medium-full body and a subtle, very long vanilla cola, ginger powder, dark caramel and butterscotch, and milk chocolate and clove finish. Barrel aged spirits lovers with be over the moon with this rich ready-to-drink cocktail.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Opaque pearly straw color. Pleasing vegetal agave aromas of roasted yellow peppers, yams, dates with grapefruit zest high note. Tart with a medium-to-full body and a grapefruit compote palate with the emphasis on the rind. On the rocks things liven up and the citrus rind and agave balances out nicely with a long mouthwatering finish. Definitely a more serious Paloma than just tequila and Squirt. Serve on the rocks.
94 points $19.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Original Bartenders
Golden green color. Rustic, inviting aromas and flavors of vanilla caramel and roasted marshmallow, lime zest, salt water taffy, and roasted nuts and agave with a round, racy, sweet medium body and a complex, medium-length salted butterscotch with orange zest finish. True tequila flavors shine in this ready-to-drink margarita.
91 points $9.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Cutwater Spirits
Old Grove Gin and Tonic Ready-To-Drink Cocktail
Silver clear color. Green aromas of cucumber and watermelon, biscuit, thyme, and lavender with a satiny, lively, bubbly, moderately sweet light body and an interesting, medium-length Italian lemonade, quinine, and grapefruit peel finish. A great cucumber number with a long, refreshing finish.
90 points $14.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
High West
The 36th Vote Barreled Manhattan
Deep copper bronze color. Aromas of orange zest, dried cherry, spice, waxy honeycomb, and praline with a silky, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and a nicely balance finish. On the rock, more integration with some sassafras, herb, and tropical fruit notes emerging. Very nice and approachable, a little like an Old fashioned. Serve on the rocks.
90 points $49.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Pineapple Mimosa
Cloudy bright golden yellow color. Fruity aromas of pineapple and custard with a supple, petillant, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and a tingling, interesting, tropical fruit salad and chalk finish with no oak. A tasty pineapple treat.
89 points $11 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Margarita Cocktail
Slivery green straw color. Aromas of dried lime, peppercorn, and yam with an tangy, fruity sweet body and a stimulating, medium-length honeyed limes, hint of herbs and ginseng, and minerals finish. A solid margarita that is sure to please.
88 points $13.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Cuesta Mesa
Pale light hazy slivery straw color. Waxy aromas of honey baked citrus, scented candle, and citrus gelatin with a silky, tangy, fruity sweet light-to-medium body and a sleek, charming, lime taffy, orange drink, and pineapple finish. A tasty, lightly tropical margarita.
88 points $15.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab