Best Craft Brandy Distillery (2019)


Brandy is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to renewed interest in classic cocktail recipes. The term "brandy" refers primarily to spirits distilled from wine, and more broadly to spirits distilled from fruits (also called eau de vie). Many of these distilleries work in small batches using locally-sourced ingredients, including apples, pears and other fruits grown on nearby orchards or in partnership with local wineries.

  • Long Road Distillers

    Long Road Distillers
    Grand Rapids, Mich.

    Long Road Distillers makes a small-batch brandy from fresh local apples sourced from the Fruit Ridge of West Michigan. The brandy spends nearly a year in used whiskey barrels to allow the flavors to develop and mellow.
    Photo courtesy of Long Road Distillers

  • AFT Distillery

    AFT Distillery
    Luling, Texas

    Edelbrand translates to “noble brandy” – a spirit from the alpine regions of Europe made from fruit, yeast and water. This small Texas distillery makes their own version of apple, cherry and Williams pear edelbrands made from whole single variety fruits. Texas Oak Reserve bottles spend time in toasted white American oak.
    Photo courtesy of AFT Distillery

  • Driftless Glen Distillery

    Driftless Glen Distillery
    Baraboo, Wis.

    The 5 Year Reserve Brandy from Driftless Glen Distillery in Wisconsin starts in France, where grapes are barreled and aged onsite for five years in French oak. The spirit is then brought to Wisconsin, where it’s cask-finished in bourbon barrels to add depth of flavor and color.
    Photo courtesy of Driftless Glen Distillery

  • Korbel Brandy

    Korbel Brandy
    Guerneville, Calif.

    Korbel has been producing California brandy since 1889. This award-winning spirit is made from California grapes, distilled in small batches and aged in fire-charred oak barrels to produce a golden brandy with a rich butterscotch nose and a smooth finish.
    Photo courtesy of Korbel Brandy

  • Bluebird Distilling

    Bluebird Distilling
    Phoenixville, Penn.

    Blueberry brandy, a limited release from Pennsylvania’s Bluebird Distilling, is made from fruit sourced from a local farm in Hammonton, New Jersey. Berries are crushed, fermented and distilled onsite before sitting for more than two years in charred new American oak barrels.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Malkovstock

  • Huber's Starlight Distillery

    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 Huber's Starlight Distillery

  • Sonoma Brothers Distilling

    Sonoma Brothers Distilling
    Windsor, Calif.

    Sonoma Brothers Distilling only makes their limited release brandies once per year. The first starts with fresh apples from a century-old organic orchard in west Sonoma County, fermented, distilled and aged in Russian River Valley Pinot barrels. A grape brandy is also in the works.
    Photo courtesy of Sonoma Brothers Distilling

  • Dorćol Distilling & Brewing Company

    Dorćol Distilling & Brewing Company
    San Antonio

    The star spirit from Dorćol Distilling & Brewing Company in San Antonio is Kinsman Small Batch Apricot Rakia, a natural brandy made from Serbian apricots picked at their peak of ripeness. The spirit is distilled in a copper pot and bottled at 84 proof for a full-bodied fruit flavor.
    Photo courtesy of Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co.

  • Watershed Distillery

    Watershed Distillery
    Columbus, Ohio

    Watershed Distillery’s apple brandy starts with all Ohio apples that are pressed, fermented, distilled and aged onsite. The result is a mild and slightly dry brandy with the aroma of red apple and hints of apple peel.
    Photo courtesy of Watershed Distillery

  • Napa Valley Distillery

    Napa Valley Distillery
    Napa, Calif.

    Napa Valley Distillery was the first distillery to open in the region since Prohibition, and it’s no surprise that a distillery in the heart of California Wine Country makes excellent brandy. One of the signature spirits is the Napa Reserve Neutral Brandy, made from single-distilled Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Other offerings include cherry, sweet basil, plum and pear brandies.
    Photo courtesy of Napa Valley Distillery

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

  1. Long Road Distillers - Grand Rapids, Mich.
  2. AFT Distillery - Luling, Texas
  3. Driftless Glen Distillery - Baraboo, Wis.
  4. Korbel Brandy - Guerneville, Calif.
  5. Bluebird Distilling - Phoenixville, Penn.
  6. Huber's Starlight Distillery - Starlight, Ind.
  7. Sonoma Brothers Distilling - Windsor, Calif.
  8. Dorćol Distilling & Brewing Company - San Antonio
  9. Watershed Distillery - Columbus, Ohio
  10. Napa Valley Distillery - Napa, Calif.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning distilleries!

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