Best Craft Gin Distillery: Durham Distillery

Readers choose North Carolina distillery as the best in the U.S.

Gin gets its name from "Genievre," the French word for juniper. This globally popular spirit begins with a neutral base spirit distilled with an array of botanicals–not just juniper berries these days–to give it its distinct aroma and flavor profile. 

  • 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

  • Watershed Distillery
    Columbus, Ohio

    When Watershed Distillery set out to create their Four Peel Gin, they aimed to create a spirit that would “turn gin skeptics into fans.” The corn-based spirit is layered with eight different botanicals, including four citrus peels, to create a light, smooth and citrus-forward gin. This gin gets aged in spend bourbon barrels to create the company’s distinctive Bourbon Barrel Gin.
    Photo courtesy of Watershed Distillery

  • 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

  • Tamworth Distilling
    Tamworth, N.H.

    Tamworth Distilling created their Tamworth Garden Apiary Gin to honor New Hampshire's local bees. Botanicals include juniper, hand-foraged poplar buds, red clover and honey. The Tamworth Garden Flora Gin pairs classic botanicals like juniper and coriander with geranium, violet, lemon verbena, red clover and elderflower. The New Hampshire distillery crafts six gins in total.
    Photo courtesy of Tamworth Distilling

  • Oregon Spirit Distillers
    Bend, Ore.

    Oregon Spirits in Bend makes two types of gin, a traditional London-style Dry Gin with a dominant juniper flavor and notes of lemon peel, coriander, pine and sage, as well as a Dutch-style Genever. Instead of being juniper-forward, this malty spirit has a floral aroma and hints of licorice and citrus.
    Photo courtesy of Oregon Spirit Distillers

  • 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

  • Greenhook Ginsmiths
    Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Brooklyn's Greenhook Ginsmiths hand-crafts their gins using a custom-made copper pot still, used in conjunction with vacuum distillation to preserve the delicate aromas and flavors of the botanicals. Their flagship is an American Dry Gin made from New York-grown wheat, juniper, coriander, chamomile, elderflower, citrus, ginger, cinnamon and elderberry. Their Old Tom Gin is distilled from corn, juniper and botanicals before spending time in bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks.
    Photo courtesy of Greenhook Ginsmiths

  • Captive Spirits
    Seattle

    Seattle's Captive Spirits Distilling is a family-run company exclusively focused on crafting gin using traditional distilling methods. Their Big Gin is loaded with flavors of juniper, bitter orange peel and Tasmanian pepper berries, while the Bourbon Barreled Big Gin has wood notes to complement the botanicals. Peat Barreled Big Gin rests for four months in single malt barrels for even more complexity.
    Photo courtesy of Captive Spirits Distilling

  • Leopold Bros.
    Denver

    Leopold Bros. in Denver individually distills each botanical–juniper, coriander, pummelo, 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.

  • Spirit Works Distillery
    Sebastopol, Calif.

    Northern California-based Spirit Works Distillery crafts grain-to-glass spirits made from California-grown organic red winter wheat. This slightly sweet base spirit gets combined with juniper berries and fresh California botanicals to create their flagship gin. The Barrel Gin spends several months in new American white oak, while the Sloe Gin and Barrel Reserve Sloe Gin are made by steeping sloe berries in gin.
    Photo courtesy of Spirit Works Distillery

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

  1. Durham Distillery - Durham, N.C.
  2. Watershed Distillery - Columbus, Ohio
  3. Hardshore Distilling Company - Portland, Maine
  4. Tamworth Distilling - Tamworth, N.H.
  5. Oregon Spirit Distillers - Bend, Ore.
  6. St. George Spirits - Alameda, Calif.
  7. Greenhook Ginsmiths - Brooklyn, N.Y.
  8. Captive Spirits - Seattle
  9. Leopold Bros. - Denver
  10. Spirit Works Distillery - Sebastopol, 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. Experts Emily Arden Wells (Gastronomista); Brian Christensen (Artisan Spirit Magazine); Ziggy Eschliman, one of America's most authoritative and entertaining libation experts; Kevin Gray (Bevvy); Eric Grossman (Craft Spirits); Jack Robertiello, a spirits competition judge; and Olivier Ward (Gin Foundry) were chosen for their knowledge of the American craft spirits scene.

Congratulations to all these winning distilleries.

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AlertThe Experts

Emily Arden Wells

Emily Arden Wells

Brian Christensen

Brian Christensen

Ziggy Eschliman

Ziggy Eschliman

Kevin Gray

Kevin Gray

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Jack Robertiello

Jack Robertiello

Olivier Ward

Olivier Ward