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If you've walked down the liquor aisle recently, you might have noticed an explosion of choices – not only in the type of spirit but also in the distilleries producing them.
According to the Craft Spirits Data Project, the U.S. was home to more than 2,000 craft distilleries by the end of 2019, an 11 percent growth year over year.
10Best wants to find the best craft and small-batch spirits producers – family-owned distilleries, grain-to-glass operations or distillers using only the best local ingredients in their products. We recruited a panel of craft spirits experts to help us nominate 20 distilleries in each of the following categories: whiskey, rum, vodka, gin, tequila, specialty spirits, brandy, canned cocktails and craft mixers. Now it's your turn to vote.
Click on each category below to vote:
Best Canned Cocktail Company
Canned cocktails are all the rage — Photo courtesy of iStock / S847
Canned cocktails (also known as ready-to-drink beverages) have exploded onto the scene in recent years, and the trend looks like it’s here to stay. These bartender-quality options run the gamut from classics, like vodka soda or gin and tonic, to creative concoctions.
The best part? They’re a convenient way to sip your favorite drink at the beach, a backyard barbecue or wherever you want to relax.
Best Craft Brandy Distillery
Brandy is often distilled from apples or grapes — Photo courtesy of iStock / bhofack2
Brandy is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to renewed interest in classic cocktail recipes. The term "brandy" refers primarily to spirits distilled from wine, and more broadly to spirits distilled from fruits (also called eau de vie).
We asked a panel of American spirits experts to nominate their favorite American craft brandy distilleries, many of which use locally-sourced ingredients, including apples, pears and other fruits grown on nearby orchards or in partnership with local wineries.
Best Craft Gin Distillery
The word "gin" comes from the French term for juniper — Photo courtesy of iStock / Mariella McNeany
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.
The nominated distilleries, many of which are family-owned, painstakingly distill their base spirits using a blend of traditional and modern techniques. All take pride in crafting unique gins worthy of sipping as well as mixing into a classic gin and tonic.
Best Craft Mixer
A mixer can make or break your cocktail — Photo courtesy of iStock / MaximFesenko
A killer cocktail calls for killer ingredients, and that applies to more than just the booze. The craft distilling movement has buoyed a similar wave of companies hand-crafting their own lines of cocktail bitters, tonics, mixers, syrups and sipping vinegar, all with an eye toward elevating the cocktail experience.
Best Craft Rum Distillery
Rum is made from molasses or sugar cane juice — Photo courtesy of iStock / itakdalee
Sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean began distilling rum during the 17th century from molasses, an inexpensive byproduct of the sugar refining process. The spirit came to the U.S. in 1664 with the opening of the first rum distillery on Staten Island and continued to grow in popularity through the Revolutionary War.
Rum has come a long way since those early days, and distilleries across the nation are experimenting with how to craft the finest variations.
Best Craft Specialty Spirits Distillery
These spirits run the gamut from absinthe to limoncello — Photo courtesy of iStock / kudryavtsev
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.
Best Craft Vodka Distillery
Vodka ranks among the world's most popular spirits — Photo courtesy of iStock / vi-mart
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.
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.
Best Craft Whiskey Distillery
Who distills the best American whiskey? — Photo courtesy of iStock / kellyvandellen
The American craft whiskey scene has really come into its own over the past few years, expanding beyond the traditional Tennessee and Kentucky bourbons to include ryes, single malts, blends and white whiskeys made with a combination of old-world and new-school techniques.
Best New Craft Distillery
These distilleries represent the best of those opened in the past three years — Photo courtesy of iStock / ViktoriiaNovokhatska
The number of craft distilleries in the United States grew by more than 11 percent between 2018 and 2019; the country now has more than 2,000 of them. With so many distilleries opening up each year, we decided to highlight some of the best on the scene.
We asked a panel of American spirits experts to nominate 20 of the best new craft distilleries in the USA, each opened in the past three years.
Remember, you can vote once per day in each category. The 10 nominees with the most votes in each category will be announced on 10Best.com on Friday, September 25.