America's best craft gin? Hardshore Distilling Company!
St. Augustine Distillery, Durham Distillery, New Holland Artisan Spirits and Santa Fe Spirits in top five
Gin gets its name from "Genievre," the French word for juniper. Quickly growing in popularity, this spirit starts with a neutral base spirit distilled with an array of botanicals – not just juniper berries – to give it its distinct aroma and flavor profile.
Hardshore Distilling Company (Portland, Maine)
The flagship spirit at Hardshore Distilling Company in Portland, Maine is their Hardshore Original Gin, a bright spirit made with five botanicals that exhibits notes of iris, mint, rosemary and soft citrus. Hardshore crafts their own base spirit from grains grown at the founder's family farm. Photo courtesy of Hardshore Distilling Company
St. Augustine Distillery (St. Augustine, Fla.)
New World Gin, made in small batches at St. Augustine
Distillery in Florida, exhibits citrus and spice notes from botanicals like cassia bark and angelica around the flavor of juniper. In summer of 2016, the distillery began offering two limited release gins, a Sweet Red Barrel-Finished Gin and a Sweet White Barrel-Finished Gin, both rested in vermouth barrels. Photo courtesy of St. Augustine Distillery
Durham Distillery (Durham, N.C.)
Durham Distillery crafts their small-batch Conniption Gins in a custom-designed German copper pot still. Botanicals are individually vacuum-distilled to maximize their flavor. Conniption American Dry Gin exhibits floral notes of cucumber, honeysuckle and citrus, while the Navy Strength Gin is made with botanicals like Indian coriander, cardamom, rosemary, caraway, citrus and fig. Photo courtesy of Felicia Perry Photography / Durham Distillery
New Holland Artisan Spirits (Holland, Mich.)
New Holland, best known as a brewery, also crafts some darn good spirits, including three varieties of gin. Knickerbocker is a classic gin infused with a dozen botanicals, including generous amounts of juniper berries. Deeper and smoother, Knickerbocker Barrel Gin gets its toasty notes from the spirit-soaked wood, while Blue Haven is steeped on locally sourced blueberries. Photo courtesy of New Holland Artisan Spirits
Santa Fe Spirits (Santa Fe)
It took over two years for the folks at Santa Fe Spirits in Santa Fe
, New Mexico to perfect their Wheeler's Gin. The resulting spirit, made with the best desert botanicals, exhibits an aroma of fruit and spice with flavors of cucumber, sweet nectar and a light perfume. Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Spirits
Backwards Distilling Company (Mills, Wyo.)
Appreciators of gin can choose between two varieties at Backwards Distilling Company. Big, bold and dry, Strongman Gin is made with 11 botanicals and loads of juniper berries, giving it a powerful piney aroma. Lighter and subtler, Contortionist Gin is a lively gin with hints of pine and fresh lemon peel – perfect for mixing Photo courtesy of Backwards Distilling Company
Caledonia Spirits (Hardwick, Vt.)
Barr Hill Gin, craft distilled by Caledonia Spirits, uses pure grain spirits infused with juniper berry and raw northern honey, added just before bottling to impart a subtle floral quality. Tom Cat Gin gets barrel-aged for four to six months in new charred American oak to give it whiskey-like notes. Photo courtesy of Caledonia Spirits
St. George Spirits (Alameda, Calif.)
St. George Spirits crafts three types of gin. Their Terrior Gin is described as "forest-driven and earthy," with botanicals like California bay laurel and coastal sage. Botanivore Gin features a whopping 19 different botanicals for a fresh and herbaceous gin, while the Dry Rye Gin is made from a base of pot-distilled rye, creating a structured and rich spirit perfect for whiskey lovers. Photo courtesy of St. George Spirits
Leopold Bros. Distillery (Denver)
Leopold Bros. in Denver
individually distills each botanical – juniper, coriander, pummelos, orris root and Valencia oranges among them – to bring out their purest flavors in their American Small Batch Gin. The Navy Strength American Gin undergoes the same painstaking process but with more forward flavors of juniper and Bergamot. Their Summer Gin captures the spirit of the season with blood orange and lemon myrtle leaf. Photo courtesy of Leopold Bros.
Corsair Distillery (Bowling Green, Ky.)
Corsair's small-batch Artisan Gin is made in a hand-hammered pot still, giving it smooth and crisp finish with hints of citrus. The Kentucky distillery also makes a malt-based gin called Genever and a Barrel Aged Gin aged in spiced rum barrels to give it notes of baking spice and vanilla. Photo courtesy of Corsair Distillery
We asked a panel of American spirits experts to nominate 20 of the best craft gin distilleries in the USA, and four the past four weeks, our readers have been voting daily for their favorites. Many of these distilleries work in small batches using locally-sourced ingredients. Many are family-owned. All take pride in crafting unique gins worthy of sipping as well as mixing into a classic gin and tonic.
The top 10 winners in the category Best Craft Gin Distillery are as follows:
- Hardshore Distilling Company - Portland, Maine
- St. Augustine Distillery - St. Augustine, Fla.
- Durham Distillery - Durham, N.C.
- New Holland Artisan Spirits - Holland, Mich.
- Santa Fe Spirits - Santa Fe
- Backwards Distilling Company - Mills, Wyo.
- Caledonia Spirits - Hardwick, Vt.
- St. George Spirits - Alameda, Calif.
- Leopold Bros. Distillery - Denver
- Corsair Distillery - Bowling Green, Ky.
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), Erik Holzherr (Wisdom), Laura Johnson (Distillerista), Arthur Shapiro (Booze Business) and Olivier Ward (Gin Foundry) were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of the American craft spirits industry.
Congratulations to all our winning gin distilleries!