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
100% Real Beet Distilled Spirit
Clear color. Savory, attractive aromas and flavors of roasted and pickled beets, hint of spiced fruits, roasted cauliflower, and galanga with a satiny, bright, dryish medium body and a peppery, interesting, medium-long dusty root vegetables, powdered sugar, radish, and pepper finish. A very interesting and distinctive root vegetable like spirit for savory cocktails.
93 points $29.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Mill Street Distillery
Pale golden yellow color. Lively aromas and flavors of spiced candied oranges and nuts, cherry bonbon, and cola float with a silky, vibrant, fruity medium body and a smooth, intriguing, medium-length finish with nuances of spicy panettone, cedar, cinnamon baklava, and pepper. A wonderful wood aged grappa.
93 points $54.25
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Dry County Distillery
Black Rope Anise Spirit
Minutely hazy clear color. Rich, spicy aromas and flavors of black licorice, banana nut muffin, and pepper with an even, crisp, dryish light body and a warming, interesting, carefree anise seed, pepper dust, and minerals finish. A pure, smooth, and balanced anise schnapps.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Painted Stave Distilling
Harvest Grappa
Bright clear color. Lively, attractive, clean fruity inviting aromas of cracked pepper on watermelon rind, box of raisins, cedar plank, and rye flour sack with a soft, bright, dryish medium body and a warming, interesting, medium-long suede, cucumber juice, honey cream, and nut oil finish. A mild, mellow grappa.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Vermont Spirits
No. 14 Maple Spirit
Bright light gold color. Confected aromas and flavors of toasted nuts in honey, sweet cornbread, burnt sugar, winter spices, and circus peanuts with a crisp, fruity light-to-medium body and a hot, easy caramel, wet leaves, diced apple, bananas foster, and bread pudding finish. A light and interesting whiskey alternative for easy sipping.
86 points $58.99
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Rogue Spirits
Chipotle Spirit
Clear. Aromas of bbq rub, pepper jelly, and tape with a flat, bone-dry light body and vaporous and terse nut, dry-roasted chili pepper dust and mineral oil finish. Rather boring and weakly defined flavor, but inoffensive.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
Standard Wormwood Distillery
Wormwood Rye
Brilliant amber color. Interesting aromas of pipe tobacco, pencil shavings and halvah, toasted raisin bran and pumpernickel nut bread, and Playdoh and clay with a silky, flat, dryish body and a peppery, engaging, relaxed smoked nuts and raisins, lapsang tea, cedar bark and dust, and peppercorns finish. A curious, lightly smoked, lightly bitter whisky.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab