Best craft vodka distillery? Readers choose Prairie Organic Spirits

Minnesota distillery takes home Readers' Choice award

Russia and Poland were distilling vodka as early as the 8th or 9th centuries. Since those early days, it has become one of the world's most popular spirits, thanks in large part to its versatility in mixing. But vodka doesn't just belong in cocktails; while some distilleries compete to create the smoothest, clearest and sometimes most flavorless variation, others are embracing vodka by making it with local, high-quality ingredients (including potatoes, wheat, corn and even grapes) with minimal distillation to allow the natural flavors to shine.

  • Prairie Organic Spirits
    Princeton, Minn.

    Everything from Prairie Organic Spirits starts with ingredients from Minnesota farms free from herbicides to help protect native wildlife. Organic corn is distilled in a copper still as many times as needed to produce the desired flavor profile. The leftover grains are then returned to local farms to be used as animal feed.
    Photo courtesy of Prairie Organic Spirits

  • 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

  • 44° North Vodka
    Boise

    This Boise-based distillery takes Idaho’s most famous agricultural product–potatoes–along with Brundage winter wheat and Rocky Mountain spring water to produce a line of smooth and distinctive vodkas. Flavored vodkas are infused with natural Idaho huckleberries, Rainier cherries and Sunnyslope nectarines.
    Photo courtesy of 44° North Vodka / Facebook

  • Tom's Town Distilling Co.
    Kansas City, Mo.

    Eli's Strongarm Vodka, made at Tom's Town Distilling Co. in Kansas City, is named after Eli Matheus, a rough-and-tough Prohibition-era riverboat captain. In contrast, his namesake vodka is smooth and pure, thanks to a 16-distillation process.
    Photo courtesy of Tom's Town Distilling Co.

  • Dented Brick Distillery
    Salt Lake City

    Utah-grown rye and wheat grains form the foundation for Dented Brick Distillery's Roofraiser Vodka. This European-style vodka has a spicy kick from the rye not often found in American vodkas more typically made from corn. It gets its name from an incident when the Salt Lake City distillery had to alter the height of their roof to accommodate the stills.
    Photo courtesy of Dented Brick Distillery / Facebook

  • Graybeard Distillery
    Durham, N.C.

    The flagship spirit from Durham’s Graybeard Distillery is their long grain rice-distilled vodka. A unique sweet floral nose gives way to notes of vanilla in this super sip-able spirit.
    Photo courtesy of Bedlam Vodka / Facebook

  • Smugglers' Notch Distillery
    Jeffersonville, Vt.

    Smugglers’ Notch Vodka is made from Idaho-grown grains and water from the Mount Mansfield watershed of Northern Vermont. The grain wash gets distilled in a four-column still and passed through a multi-stage filtration process for a smooth vodka with just a hint of sweetness. Smugglers’ Notch Distillery also makes an organic gluten-free vodka made from corn.
    Photo courtesy of Smugglers' Notch Distillery / Facebook

  • Hangar 1
    Alameda, Calif.

    Hangar 1's flagship Straight Vodka is distilled from a combination of Midwestern-grown grains and wine grapes, giving the finished product a fresh and floral nose, hints of honeysuckle and asian pear and a subtle floral finish. Flavored vodkas include Buddha's hand citron, mandarin blossom, Makrut lime, pink peppercorn, honeycomb and chipotle. 
    Photo courtesy of Hangar 1

  • Cascade Alchemy
    Bend, Ore.

    The corn-based vodka from Cascade Alchemy in Bend, Oregon is distilled 20 times to achieve its smooth flavor profile, perfect for mixing. Fans of flavored vodkas will love Cascade Alchemy’s Chai Tea Vodka (with the spices still in the bottle) and Hot Pepper Vodka infused with jalapeño, serrano and garlic.
    Photo courtesy of Cascade Alchemy

  • Old 4th Distillery
    Atlanta

    The hand-crafted vodka from Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta begins with regionally grown turbinado sugar, distilled three times in a CARL still to produce a gluten-free spirit with a neutral flavor profile and a hint of sweetness. The only byproduct of the entire process is distilled water.
    Photo courtesy of Old 4th Distillery

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

  1. Prairie Organic Spirits - Princeton, Minn.
  2. Journeyman Distillery - Three Oaks, Mich.
  3. 44° North Vodka - Boise
  4. Tom's Town Distilling Co. - Kansas City, Mo.
  5. Dented Brick Distillery - Salt Lake City
  6. Graybeard Distillery - Durham, N.C.
  7. Smugglers' Notch Distillery - Jeffersonville, Vt.
  8. Hangar 1 - Alameda, Calif.
  9. Cascade Alchemy - Bend, Ore.
  10. Old 4th Distillery - Atlanta

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); Derek Gamlin (Sub Zero Vodka Bar); Ziggy Eschliman, one of America's most authoritative and entertaining libation experts; Kevin Gray (Bevvy); Eric Grossman (Craft Spirits) and Jack Robertiello, a spirits competition judge, were chosen for their knowledge of the American craft spirits scene.

Congratulations to all these winning distilleries.

License the 10Best Readers' Choice Award Logo

AlertThe Experts

Emily Arden Wells

Emily Arden Wells

Brian Christensen

Brian Christensen

Derek Gamlin

Derek Gamlin

Kevin Gray

Kevin Gray

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Jack Robertiello

Jack Robertiello

Ziggy Eschliman

Ziggy Eschliman