Best Craft Specialty Spirits Distillery (2017)


Gin, vodka, rum and whiskey are great and all, but the American thirst for craft spirits has grown beyond the bounds of the traditional to embrace specialty spirits from around the globe. Modern day distilleries now craft liqueur, brandy, absinthe, aquavit and amaro alongside their flagship spirits.

  • Long Road Distillers

    Long Road Distillers
    Grand Rapids, Mich.

    Among the spirits made by the folks at Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids are two varieties of aquavit, a popular Scandinavian spirit. The Original Aquavit has a profile of herbs and spices, while the limited release Old Aquavit rests in used whiskey barrels for 12 months, lending it greater complexity with notes of dill and caraway.
    Photo courtesy of Long Road Distillers

  • Tamworth Distilling

    Tamworth Distilling
    Tamworth, N.H.

    Tamworth Distilling specializes in unique spirits made from local ingredients, including their Tamworth Garden Gin Series, their line of Von Humboldt’s Natur Wassser and their Garden Infusion spirits using New England ingredients like Black Trumpet Blueberry, Chicory and Beet. From start to finish, each spirit embodies their scratch made ethos: local, house-milled grain, pure water, herbs and botanicals from the woods and their garden, along with local fruits and vegetables.
    Photo courtesy of Tamworth Distilling

  • 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 News and Tribune

  • Proof Artisan Distillers

    Proof Artisan Distillers
    Fargo, N.D.

    Those looking for something different to imbibe will find plenty of options from Fargo's Proof Artisan Distillers. The product line includes 2Docks Coffee Liqueur, made from fresh-roasted and cold-brewed coffee, as well as a sweet tooth-satisfying 2Docks Cream Liqueur. Proof also crafts an aquavit and a cinnamon-flavored whiskey.
    Photo courtesy of Urban Toad Media

  • Black Button Distilling

    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

  • Lockhouse Distillery

    Lockhouse Distillery
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    Buffalo's Lockhouse Distillery teamed up with Public Espresso + Coffee to craft a stellar coffee liqueur, locally brewed and distilled. This cold-infused spirit exhibits complex roasted notes and a hint of dark chocolate.
    Photo courtesy of Lockhouse Distillery / Facebook

  • Headframe Spirits

    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

  • Napa Valley Distillery

    Napa Valley Distillery
    Napa, Calif.

    Napa Valley Distillery was founded on one basic principal – "make it different." Creative craft spirits distilled here include a Meyer lemon liqueur, pear brandy, a California twist on French pastis and Grand California, an aged California brandy infused with all-natural orange.
    Photo courtesy of WineCountry Media / Flickr

  • Copper & Kings

    Copper & Kings

    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 five 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

  • Allegheny Distilling

    Allegheny Distilling

    While most famous for their rum, Allegheny Distilling in Pittsburgh crafts some stellar specialty spirits as well, including an award-winning coffee liqueur and a Falernum liqueur (a cordial made with ginger, clove and lime).
    Photo courtesy of Allegheny Distilling

We asked a panel of American spirits experts to nominate 20 of the best craft specialty spirits 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 spirits worthy of sipping as well as mixing.

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

  1. Long Road Distillers - Grand Rapids, Mich.
  2. Tamworth Distilling - Tamworth, N.H.
  3. Huber's Starlight Distillery - Starlight, Ind.
  4. Proof Artisan Distillers - Fargo, N.D.
  5. Black Button Distilling - Rochester, N.Y.
  6. Lockhouse Distillery - Buffalo, N.Y.
  7. Headframe Spirits - Butte, Mont.
  8. Napa Valley Distillery - Napa, Calif.
  9. Copper & Kings - Louisville
  10. Allegheny Distilling - Pittsburgh

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 knowledge and experience of the American craft spirits industry.

Congratulations to all these winning distilleries!

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AlertThe Experts

Emily Arden Wells

Emily Arden Wells

Emily Arden Wells

Brian Christensen

Brian Christensen

Brian Christensen

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson

Arthur Shapiro

Arthur Shapiro

Arthur Shapiro