People travel the country for wine tours and beer crawls, but what does that leave whiskey and cocktail lovers? We’ve compiled the names of 10 bucket list-worthy cities across the U.S. that are home to both new and iconic distilleries of the whiskey world.
10. Portland, Oregon
Newer to the world of small batch distilleries, Portland’s “Distillery Row” has grown to include 12 family-owned businesses offering a happy balance of barrel-aged whiskies and liqueurs. In 2004, New Deal Distillery was the first to open and initiate creating what is now a flourishing whiskey and spirit scene. Grab a Distillery Row Passport at participating distilleries to keep track of the locations you’ve sipped at throughout the city. And learn why Bull Run Distilling’s key ingredient is only half their story.
9. Washington, D.C
Politics aside, even the country's capital agrees to unwinding with a quality glass of whiskey. Several locals have turned away from politics to become distillery owners and operators. Republic Restoratives Distillery is a women-owned stillhouse taking the D.C whiskey scene by storm, earning the title of the largest crowd-funded distillery in the world.
8. San Francisco, California
San Fran has mastered the art of wine and is more recently making a name for itself in the world of whiskey. This city is host to the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWPC), the largest spirits competition held in North America. While visiting local distilleries like Anchor Brewing Company and Seven Stills you’ll find a healthy combination of both American and Japanese inspired whiskeys.
7. New York City, NY
In 2010, the Brooklyn borough became home to the first legal whiskey distillery to open in NYC since prohibition times. The city's oldest distillery is named Kings County Distillery and you can find them in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The area is now filled with many other small-batch distilleries, including the Widow Jane Distillery which embraces the artsy spirit of the borough by getting creative with unique flavors and pairings. A new style of rye whiskey is also brewing in the state of New York through the Empire Rye Trail.
6. Seattle, Washington
Commonly known for a hot “cup of Joe”, Seattle also offers a sophisticated whiskey experience. Consider ending your day strolling the waterfront through Pike Place Market and closing out the night at the doorsteps of Copperworks Distilling company in downtown Seattle. Cruise on down to 2bar Spirits for a taste of Texas. If you’re short on time head over to Canon Whiskey and order their whiskey flight trio the “WA Whiskey Showdown”.
5. Denver, Colorado
Many visit Denver for the promises of outdoor adventures, but peel away the ski jackets and hiking gear to discover a laid-back atmosphere offering impressive whiskey blends. Denver is home to 12 of the 60 distilleries along the Colorado Spirits trail, making it a top spot for late-night sipping after a day on the slopes. 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirits Co. was voted the 2021 RackHouse distillery of the year by RackHouse Whiskey club members.
4. Chicago, Illinois
In the 1880s, Illinois was home to the whiskey capital of the nation, but prohibition brought about big shifts toward Kentucky-based distilleries. It's taken time, but Chicago is again home to many homegrown craft distilleries. The city is returning to its boozy roots. Be sure to check out KOVAL Distillery as it was the first to open in Chicago post-prohibition.
3. New Orleans, Louisiana
On or off Bourbon Street, whiskey lovers will feel welcomed by the bountiful bourbon selections in New Orleans. Expect commonalities between the taste of Kentucky and New Orleans aged whiskeys. History tells us the process of shipping spirit-filled barrels to New Orleans during the early 1800s helped develop the classic Kentucky bourbon we know today. Every March New Orleans hosts a Bourbon festival featuring both local and national distilleries.
2. Lynchburg, Tennessee
The Jack Daniel’s Distillery helped put this Tennessee town on the map. Unfortunately, Moore county is dry, therefore Lynchburg doesn’t offer tourists a great nightlife. Signature Jack Daniel’s bottles are available for purchase at The White Rabbit Bottle Shop, but unless you book a sampling you won’t be tasting any products. Make sure to plan ahead or you’ll be taking all of your bottles to go.
1. Louisville, Kentucky
It’s no surprise that Louisville made it onto our top ten list. You can half expect to smell the whiskey in the air driving down “Whiskey Row”. Both the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and American Whiskey Trail make stops at distilleries in Louisville. The city includes whiskey giants like Bardstown Bourbon Company, as well as thriving smaller distilleries like Angel’s Envy and Bulleit Frontier Whiskey.
If you want a tour guide of all the interesting craft distilleries around the U.S., then check out RackHouse Whiskey Club. RackHouse scours the U.S. looking for the best craft distilleries with the most interesting stories to curate a unique subscription box filled with full-sized bottles of hard-to-find small batch whiskey. We’re building a community of premium craft whiskey drinkers. And you're invited! Join us!