Bold-flavored gin, high-proof vodka, excellent moonshine and more news on the American craft spirits movement from editor-turned-bartender-turned-author James Rodewald.
Q. Who are some of your favorite craft whiskey producers?
A. The ones who are doing it right, who realize that to make great whiskey, they have to take the long view. It takes time. These producers also represent a remarkable can-do spirit. At Balcones in Texas, for instance, Chip Tate built the entire distillery himself, the stills and everything, in an incredibly tiny space. At Woodinville Whiskey Co. in Washington state, they’ve been laying down whiskey for almost four years now. They’ve made a commitment—an expensive one—not to sell any of it until it’s ready.
Q. What other kinds of American craft spirits are on the rise?
A. American craft gin is spectacular right now. New York Distilling Company and St. George and Distillery No. 209 in California—they’re all making really, really good gins. It’s partly because Americans don’t have a traditional style of gin production they’re going up against, like the British do. So these gins all have very, very bold flavors, and often lots of native botanicals—Douglas fir, for instance. One good thing about Americans: We’re not afraid of flavor.