95% of the world's bourbon is made in Kentucky—and more than half of that is made by Jim Beam. Come take a look inside the distillery.
'distillery tours' on Serious Eats
2Bar Spirits is one of the few grain-to-bottle operations that have opened in the three years since the easing of laws gave birth to Washington State's fledgling craft distilling industry.
Since the debut of its Original Label Gin, Letherbee has unveiled a limited-release gin for autumn; a unique "absinthe brun," which aged in a charred oak barrel; and R. Franklin's Original Recipe Malört, an ode to the (in)famous Chicago-centric and wormwood-driven bitter liqueur developed in collaboration with Robby F. Haynes, bar manager at Chicago's first modern craft-cocktail destination, The Violet Hour.
Rather than purchase raw neutral spirits, which is common practice for many manufacturers, Absolut takes control of the process from beginning to end—from seed to glass—and it's all done locally in Sweden. I traveled there to tour the distillery and learn about how vodka is made—I also got a sneak peek at some new Absolut products that are coming down the pipeline.
Behind a thick, unmarked, fireproof door in a dim industrial building in Brooklyn hides one of the most unusual and refreshingly ambitious distilling operations I've ever seen.
Founder Jeff Baker dreamed of establishing a distillery that was a bit more like a small-production winery—a place where the spirit begins in the field and ends in the glass, all without leaving the complex. With the help of Master Distiller Dave Pickerell (formerly of WhistlePig Whiskey, and before that, Maker's Mark) and distiller Tim Welly, Baker has indeed created such a place.
Today we'll tour Aberlour, a smaller-scale distillery that produces about 3.5 million liters of whisky every year. It's just down the road from Glenlivet.
To get a sense of each step of the production process, we whacked down some sugarcanes ourselves, visited the distillery in Santo Domingo where the air was heavy with molasses, and moseyed our way up to the aging facilities in Puerto Plata, where the air was heavy with alcohol. Want to see how rum is made? Come right this way...
Welcome to Speyside, a beautiful region of Scottish countryside surrounding the River Spey, where the sheep and the shortbread outnumber the people. Beside those notable draws, what really attracts visitors is the high concentration of single malt whisky distilleries, such as The Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Aberlour, The Macallan, and Balvenie. It's a good place for Scotch lovers. During the recent Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, I had the chance to see a few different distilleries in action. First up for whisky cross-examination: The Glenlivet.
Nearly 80 years after Prohibition's end, American-made spirits are in the midst of a comeback. And among this new crop of upstart, independent distilleries, F.E.W. Spirits, located down an alleyway in Evanston, Illinois, surely takes the prize as the storybook example of the movement. The irony of its existence, much like F.E.W.'s lovingly handmade hooch, is quite delicious.
As a bourbon fan, not a bourbon expert, there aren't too many brands I could pick out of a lineup with confidence. But I'm pretty sure I could sniff out a Maker's Mark, no question. It's a sweet whiskey smelling of caramel and vanilla that lands on the front of your palate, soft and smooth, with a long, warm finish. How does it get that flavor? We tasted our way through every stage of the process to learn how.
In a little warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the New York Distilling Company is beginning to take shape. They're currently producing two gins, and have plans to expand into rye whiskey and beyond in the near future. And unlike most craft distilleries, where you need to scour the shelves of boutique liquor stores and hope to find a bottle, NY Distilling Co. opened a bar next door to the distillery where you can try the spirits and the cocktails they inspire.
The story of Journeyman Distillery, which opened its doors to guests for the first time in early October, rambles across continents and centuries. It's about a building in need of a purpose meeting a man in pursuit of his newfound passion. We met up with Journeyman's owner and chief distiller, Bill Welter, to get a behind-the-scenes look.
Although Bully Boy Distillery's official unveiling to the Boston public was just a month ago, the brand of spirits sure is burgeoning. Will and Dave Willis (yep, they're brothers) work in a small, shiny warehouse in the Newmarket district of Roxbury, Massachusetts, doing everything from selecting the organic wheat to hand-labeling each and every bottle.
On a recent press trip to London, I had the chance to tour the Beefeater Distillery with master distiller Desmond Payne. He taught us a bit of gin history, showed us the difference between Beefeater and the newer brand, Beefeater 24, and let us peek our heads into the copper stills. Come along and check it out!
Moonshine is running off the stills and bourbon is quietly aging in the corners of Kings County Distillery in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This young distillery really puts the 'small' in small batch—their distilling room is only 325 square feet!
Where does Plymouth Gin come from, and how is it made? I hopped a train to Plymouth, England to attend a distillery tour and find out. Gins vary based on the ingredients they start with and the distillation process they go through. We started out our tour at the ancient copper still, then dipped our hands into Plymouth's seven botanicals.
I am standing in House Spirits Distillery, and Executive Distiller Matt Mounts is waxing poetic and dropping science about the nuances between Turkish raki, Middle Eastern arak and Greek ouzo.