5 Boutique Liquors You Absolutely Must Taste

Whiskey and Moonshine are on display at the Kings County Distillery, New York City?s oldest operating whiskey distillery and the first since prohibition, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York, September 22, 2012. Founded in 2010, soon after the creation of a New York State Farm Distillery License, Kings County makes hand-crafted moonshine and bourbon out of a 112-year-old paymaster building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages)
Photograph by Emmanuel Dunand — AFP/Getty Images

The beer industry isn’t the only part of the spirits world where craft creators are being celebrated. Small batch creations are just as in demand, if not more so, in the spirits world.

Boutique bourbons, artisan rums, or whiskeys are the quickest way to capture a spirit-lover’s attentions. Each offers a unique flavor profile and often benefits from the extra attention paid to it by its creator. While there’s nothing wrong with a mass-produced liquor when you’re making a mixed drink or a high-end one when you’re celebrating an especially notable accomplishment, these specialized offerings give you something to savor as you gently nurse a drink with friends or after a long day.

Colkegan Single Malt Whiskey

While you’ll get hints of the Scottish whiskey style in this $62 single malt, certain elements, like the use of mesquite smoking, make it very clear it’s an American product. It spends two years in American oak barrels and starts off gently, but finishes with a confident note. If you’re a fan of peaty Scotch whiskeys, this is an alternative that’s definitely worth a dram.
[Buy Colkegan Single Malt Whisky here]

Sonoma County Distilling West of Kentucky No. 1

Sonoma County is known for its wines and beers, but the expertise in those areas is starting to give rise to some very worthy offerings in the spirits category. This $75 bourbon is an annual release that’s aged in virgin casks for a year before being transferred to used whiskey barrels, resulting in a smoky spirit with hints of fruits like raspberry. It has a bit of a hot finish with pepper, but that’s smoothed out with clove flavors.
[Buy West of Kentucky Bourbon here]

Rey Campero Madre Cuishe Mezcal

Mezcal is a fast-rising favorite of spirits lovers. While tequila can only be made with Blue Agave, this cousin spirit can be made with as many as 30 Agave varieties, resulting in a much different flavor profile. Rey Compero’s $99 Madre Cuishe pit roasts the agave and uses naturally occurring yeasts to aid in fermentation. It has a light, smoky taste with hints of spice and citrus.
[Buy Madre Cuishe Mezcal here]

High Wire Rum Agricole

True agricoles, rums made from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice rather than molasses, are rare in the United States, but Charleston, SC’s High Wire Distilling sources sugar from local farms to create this delicate, yet spicy concoction. Aged in bourbon barrels for 12 months and priced at $117, it’s an earthy, complex take on the style.
[Buy Rum Agricole here]

Ardbeg Kelpie (2017 Committee Release)

The Committee is a limited edition of this single malt Scotch and, truth be told, it’s very difficult to get your hands on. The good news is on June 3, the ‘regular’ version of the annual release will launch (with a noticeably lower ABV – 57.1% for the Committee Release vs 46% for the regular). It’s still expected to be a must have. WhiskeySuggest’s Wiep Knol notes that both whiskies are matured in bourbon casks and Russian Black Sea oak casks. A bottle of the Committee Release runs for well over $500. The regular release is expected to run for about $125, though may still require some detective work to find.
[Buy Ardbeg Kelpie here]

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