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Best Craft Specialty Spirit Distillery: Desert Door Texas Sotol

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Winning spirit made from wild-harvested sotol plants

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 liqueurs, absinthe, aquavit, amaro and a host of other interesting libations alongside their flagship spirits.

  • Desert Door Texas Sotol
    Driftwood, Texas

    Desert Door Texas Sotol is a sweet, citrusy, herbal spirit distilled in Driftwood, Texas from wild-harvested West Texas sotol plants. The resulting 80-proof spirit tastes like a gin crossed with a smooth tequila. The oak-aged version spends time in new charred American white oak.
    Photo courtesy of Desert Door Texas Sotol

  • Sugarlands Distilling Company
    Gatlinburg, Tenn.

    Sugarlands Distilling Company specializes in moonshine (a type of white whiskey), but the Tennessee distillery also makes a line of boozy Sippin’ Creams in flavors like Strawberry Dream, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Electric Orange, Eggnog, Dark Chocolate and Butter Pecan.
    Photo courtesy of Sugarlands Distilling Company

  • 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. The Michigan distillery also makes limited release liqueurs in flavors like raspberry and cherry.
    Photo courtesy of Long Road Distillers

  • Letterpress Distilling
    Seattle

    The grain-to-glass Letterpress Distillery in Seattle distills their spirits from locally sourced wheat and barley. The lineup of specialty spirits includes a bittersweet amaro, limoncello made from a house-distilled vodka base and real lemons and a spring seasonal blood orange liqueur.
    Photo courtesy of Letterpress Distilling

  • Ghost Coast Distillery
    Savannah, Ga.

    Savannah’s Ghost Coast Distillery offers a lineup of classic spirits, as well as some specialty products. The Chalmers Maraschino is made from Montmorency cherries, almonds and peach noyaux made in-house. The Carthusian Herbal Liqueur takes inspiration from a 150-year-old recipe with flavors of mint, lemon and thyme. Ghost Coast also distills a fernet and a peach liqueur.
    Photo courtesy of Ghost Coast Distillery

  • Marble Distilling
    Carbondale, Colo.

    The sustainable spirits from Marble Distilling in the heart of the Rockies are made from Colorado grains and river water. Specialty options include Gingercello, made with fresh cut ginger and lemon zest; barrel-aged Gingercello Reserve and Moonlight EXpresso coffee liqueur, made from locally roasted dark coffee beans.
    Photo courtesy of Marble Distilling

  • Geijer Spirits
    San Francisco

    What started as a Swedish family recipe for glögg liqueur launched what is today Geijer Spirits, a distillery that blends Scandinavian tradition with California flavors. Aside from the flagship Glögg Liqueur, product offerings include aquavit, fernet, orange liqueur and California spiced liqueur.
    Photo courtesy of Geijer Spirits

  • Boardroom Spirits
    Lansdale, Penn.

    Among the interesting offerings from Boardroom Spirits are their Periodic Table of Spirits, each distilled from fermented fruits and vegetables like beets, carrots, apples and pears. The distillery also makes a Triple Sec Liqueur infused with real oranges and sweetened with organic cane sugar.
    Photo courtesy of Boardroom Spirits

  • Gulch Distillers
    Helena, Mt.

    The founders of Montana’s Gulch Distillers first bonded over their love of bitter liqueurs, which may have inspired their European-style Burrone Fernet. Distilled from Montana grains and a range of herbs and spices, the spirit can be sipped neat or mixed.
    Photo courtesy of Gulch Distillers

  • Saxtons River Distillery
    Brattleboro, Vt.

    Among the specialty spirits from Saxtons River Distillery in Vermont are a maple liqueur made from distilled Vermont maple syrup aged in American oak, as well as a coffee liqueur made with Arabica beans roasted in Vermont, cold brewed and infused into a house-distilled spirit.
    Photo courtesy of Saxtons River Distillery

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

  1. Desert Door Texas Sotol - Driftwood, Texas
  2. Sugarlands Distilling Company - Gatlinburg, Tenn.
  3. Long Road Distillers - Grand Rapids, Mich.
  4. Letterpress Distilling - Seattle
  5. Ghost Coast Distillery - Savannah, Ga.
  6. Marble Distilling - Carbondale, Colo.
  7. Geijer Spirits - San Francisco
  8. Boardroom Spirits - Lansdale, Penn.
  9. Gulch Distillers - Helena, Mt.
  10. Saxtons River Distillery - Brattleboro, Vt.

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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