Vikre Distillery Wins Best Craft Specialty Spirits Distillery!

Headframe Spirits, Huber's Starlight Distillery, Black Button Distilling and Copper & Kings also winners

Liqueur, brandy, absinthe, aquavit and amaro – these specialty spirits have found their way into the American craft distilling scene in a big way. We asked a panel of spirits experts to help us choose 20 of the best craft specialty spirits distilleries in the nation. We then turned things over to our readers, who have been voting for their favorites for the past four weeks. The results are in.

  • Feisty Spirits
    Fort Collins, Colo.

    Fort Collins's first distillery crafts not only bourbon, but a range of small batch brandies (apple, pear and peach) and Cinnamon Oat, Blackberry and Vanilla Orange-flavored sipping whiskeys.
    Photo courtesy of Feisty Spirits / Facebook

  • Rhine Hall
    Chicago

    Chicago's Rhine Hall opened as a handcraft brandy distillery in the heart of the city's Industrial District. Rhine Hall doesn't add any neutral spirits or flavorings to its spirit line, which includes aged and un-aged apple brandy made from locally-sourced apples, a traditional grappa, an oak-aged grappa and brandies made from mango, plum, peach, pear and cherry.
    Photo courtesy of Ellen Evangelides / Rhine Hall

  • Las Vegas Distillery
    Henderson, Nev.

    While the bulk of spirits coming from Las Vegas Distillery are American whiskeys, the Henderson distillery also produces Grandma's Apple Pie Handmade Moonshine, made from a distilled grain mash blended with apple juice and cinnamon.
    Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Distillery

  • Tamworth Distilling
    Tamworth, N.H.

    Tamworth Distilling specializes in unique spirits made from local ingredients, including their Tamworth Garden Eau de Vie. This un-aged apple brandy – made from New Hampshire apples – is tart, complex, full-bodied and slightly sweet. The distillery also crafts a Garden Infusion spirits with New England ingredients like sweet potato, beet root and chicory root.
    Photo courtesy of Tamworth Distilling

  • Tattersall Distilling
    Minneapolis

    The specialty spirits available from Tattersall Distilling in Minneapolis start with a botanical, Scandinavian-style Aquavit with caraway, citrus and fennel flavors. Tattersail's Orange Crema is distilled from three types of orange peels for a brighter, bolder orange liqueur. The distillery also crafts a Grapefruit Crema, Cherry Liqueur (aged in American oak) and Applejack.
    Photo courtesy of Tattersall Distilling

  • Copper & Kings
    Louisville

    Copper & Kings in Louisville specializes in pot-still American brandies, distilled low and slow to maximize flavors without added flavors or colors. The Copper & Kings lineup includes three American brandies (made from distilled grapes), two apple brandies (one aged and one un-aged), four varieties of absinthe and four brandies aged for 12 months in craft beer barrels sourced from breweries like 3 Floyds, Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues.
    Photo courtesy of Copper & Kings

  • Black Button Distilling
    Rochester, N.Y.

    Black Button Distilling, the first grain-to-glass craft distillery in Rochester since prohibition, uses all-natural ingredients sourced from a local farm to craft their spirits. Among the specialty spirits produced at Black Button are a Bespoke Bourbon Cream, Fast Ferry Fernet and Apple Pie Moonshine made from local fresh-pressed cider, un-aged corn whiskey and cinnamon.
    Photo courtesy of Black Button Distilling

  • Huber's Starlight Distillery
    Starlight, Ind.

    Located at Huber’s Orchard, Winery & Vineyards, Huber's Starlight Distillery uses estate-bottled wines to produce artisan European-style brandies and ports. Fresh blueberry juice is distilled into a wonderful blueberry liqueur that gets aged in red wine barrels for five to ten years, while a small-batch peach brandy is distilled from home-grown peaches.
    Photo courtesy of News and Tribune

  • Headframe Spirits
    Butte, Mont.

    Orphan Girl Bourbon Cream Liqueur, made by Headframe Spirits in the historic town of Butte, is named after one of the region's mines, now home to the World Mining Museum. For every bottle of the Irish cream-like spirit sold, a portion of proceeds go to the museum.
    Photo courtesy of Headframe Spirits

  • Vikre Distillery
    Duluth, Minn.

    Local grains, wild botanicals, oak barrels handcrafted in Minnesota and clean Lake Superior waters go into the distilled spirits from Vikre Distillery. The owner's Norwegian roots shine through in the aged and un-aged Aquavits, made from malted barley, fermented, distilled and infused with warm Scandinavian spices.
    Photo courtesy of Vikre Distillery

Many of these distilleries work in small batches using locally-sourced fruits, grains and botanicals. Many are family-owned. Many painstakingly distill their spirits using a blend of traditional and modern techniques. All take pride in crafting unique spirits that would complement any bar collection.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Craft Specialty Spirits Distillery are as follows:

  1. Vikre Distillery - Duluth, Minn.
  2. Headframe Spirits - Butte, Mont.
  3. Huber's Starlight Distillery - Starlight, Ind.
  4. Black Button Distilling - Rochester, N.Y.
  5. Copper & Kings - Louisville
  6. Tattersall Distilling - Minneapolis 
  7. Tamworth Distilling - Tamworth, N.H.
  8. Las Vegas Distillery - Henderson, Nev.
  9. Rhine Hall - Chicago
  10. Feisty Spirits - Fort Collins, Colo.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Emily Arden Wells (Gastronomista), Brian Christensen (Artisan Spirit Magazine), Laura Johnson (Distillerista) and Arthur Shapiro (Booze Business) were chosen based on their expertise in the American craft spirits industry.

Other nominated craft distilleries included broVo Spirits, CH Distillery, Clear Creek Distillery, Corsair Distillery, Greenbar Distillery, House Spirits Distillery, Jack from Brooklyn, KOVAL Distillery, Leopold Bros. and St. George Spirits.

Congratulations to all our winning distilleries!

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Emily Arden Wells

Emily Arden Wells

Brian Christensen

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson

Arthur Shapiro

Arthur Shapiro

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