St. Louis Distillery Named Best Craft Vodka Distillery!

Dry Fly Distilling, Woody Creek Distillers, Pinckney Bend Distillery and Young State America also winners

Vodka dates back as early as the eighth or ninth centuries, when it was being distilled in Russia and Poland. Since then, it has become one of the world's most popular spirits, with distilleries competing for the smoothest, clearest and oftentimes most flavorless rendition. Not so anymore.

  • Crater Lake Spirits
    Bend, Ore.

    The water from Crater Lake in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon ranks among the purist in the world, and it's this very water that goes into Crater Lake Vodka. After distillation, the vodka gets filtered 10 times through charcoal and crushed lava rock before resting briefly in virgin American oak to add a hint of vanilla. Crater Lake Reserve was the result of accidentally filtering the spirit more than 100 times. Crater Lake Spirits also makes pepper, hazelnut & espresso, sweet ginger and Hatch green chile vodkas.
    Photo courtesy of Crater Lake Spirits / Facebook

  • Journeyman Distillery
    Three Oaks, Mich.

    Red Arrow Vodka from Michigan's Journeyman Distillery is named for a local road in the community of Three Oaks. The spirit, triple-distilled from 100-percent organic wheat, exhibits a clean, smooth and crisp flavor, making it an excellent choice for cocktails or to drink straight.
    Photo courtesy of Journeyman Distillery

  • Union Horse Distilling Co.
    Lenexa, Kan.

    Rider Vodka, a small-batch spirit from Union Horse Distilling Co., begins with a wheat mash distilled in a hand-crafted copper still. The resulting spirit is slow-filtered six times for an exceptionally smooth mouth feel.
    Photo courtesy of Union Horse Distilling Co.

  • Mastermind Vodka
    Pontoon Beach, Ill.

    Mastermind Vodka, distilled six times from American-grown corn grain, is filtered through marble and limestone to create a smooth vodka with notes of citrus and vanilla. Mastermind also makes mandarin orange, citrus and black raspberry vodkas (available in 2017).
    Photo courtesy of Mastermind Vodka

  • Caledonia Spirits
    Hardwick, Vt.

    Caledonia Spirits has close ties to beekeeping and honey bees – the point of inspiration for their Barr Hill Vodka. This small-batch vodka starts with locally-sourced honey that's fermented and distilled in custom-made stills. It's simplicity at its best.
    Photo courtesy of Caledonia Spirits

  • Young State America
    Los Angeles

    Located in LA's downtown arts district, Young State America distills Loft & Bear Vodka using original recipes and traditional techniques. This small-batch exhibits a sweet aroma and silky mouth feel with a subtle complexity from the soft winter wheat used in the distilling process. YSA donates five percent of its annual profits to People Assisting the Homeless as part of its Distill.Drink.Donate. program.
    Photo courtesy of Loft & Bear

  • Pinckney Bend Distillery
    New Haven, Mo.

    Pinckney Bend Distillery in Missouri starts their Three-Grain American Vodka with a base of 80-percent organic wheat, 15-percent barley and 5-percent rye that is distilled multiple times before getting filtered through activated charcoal for a velvety smooth and subtle vodka. Each grain is distilled separately in small batches to maintain its unique flavor profile.
    Photo courtesy of Tony Carosella / Pinckney Bend Distillery

  • Woody Creek Distillers
    Basalt, Colo.

    You won't find any flavored vodkas from Woody Creek Distillers. The folks at this Colorado distillery believe in the beauty of simplicity, and that's why Woody Creek Vodka is distilled only once from 100-percent potatoes. Woody Creek Colorado Reserve Vodka, made from Polish Stobrawa potatoes, is one of the few growers of this potato variety in the country.
    Photo courtesy of Woody Creek Distillers

  • Dry Fly Distilling
    Spokane, Wash.

    Spokane's Dry Fly Distilling prides itself on its farm-to-bottle spirits, including a vodka made from Eastern Washington soft white winter wheat sourced from century-old family farms. The triple-distilled spirit is only lightly filtered to preserve its natural wheat flavor
    Photo courtesy of Dry Fly Distilling

  • St. Louis Distillery
    St. Louis

    Cardinal Sin Vodka and Cardinal Sin Starka, made by St. Louis Distillery, are both hand-crafted using a custom-built still imported from New Zealand. The vodka is made from a base of toasted two-row malted barley that is distilled only once to preserve its delicate flavor. Cardinal Sin Starka gets aged in medium-charred virgin Missouri white oak barrels for a complex flavor profile characteristic of aged vodkas.
    Photo courtesy of St. Louis Distillery

Modern American craft distilleries have begun to recognize the spirit's potential by making it with high-quality ingredients (not just potatoes either) and minimal distillation, allowing the natural flavors to shine through. Flavor differences are still subtle, making variations in texture and mouth-feel equally important.

We asked a panel of American spirits experts to nominate 20 of the best craft vodka distilleries in the USA, and then we tasked our readers with voting for their favorites. Many of these Readers' Choice-winning distilleries work in small batches using locally-sourced ingredients. Many are family-owned. Many painstakingly distill their spirits using a blend of traditional and modern techniques. All take pride in crafting unique vodkas worthy of sipping as well as mixing.

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

  1. St. Louis Distillery - St. Louis
  2. Dry Fly Distilling - Spokane, Wash.
  3. Woody Creek Distillers - Basalt, Colo.
  4. Pinckney Bend Distillery - New Haven, Mo.
  5. Young State America - Los Angeles
  6. Caledonia Spirits - Hardwick, Vt.
  7. Mastermind Vodka - Pontoon Beach, Ill.
  8. Union Horse Distilling Co. - Lenexa, Kan.
  9. Journeyman Distillery - Three Oaks, Mich.
  10. Crater Lake Spirits - Bend, Ore.

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), Derek Gamlin (Sub Zero Vodka Bar), Laura Johnson (Distillerista) and Arthur Shapiro (Booze Business) were chosen based on their expertise in the American craft vodka industry.

Other craft vodka distilleries nominated in this category include The 86 Co., Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Death's Door Spirits, Hanson of Sonoma, High West Distillery, Industry City Distillery, J. Rieger & Co., Leopold Bros., Square One Brewery and Distillery and St. George Spirits.

Congratulations to all our winning craft vodka distilleries!

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Emily Arden Wells

Emily Arden Wells

Brian Christensen

Derek Gamlin

Derek Gamlin

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson

Arthur Shapiro

Arthur Shapiro