7 Great American Whiskey Brands You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
Photo: Deagreez (Getty Images)
If you mention American whiskey, names like Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Jack Daniel’s, Buffalo Trace, and Woodford Reserve seem to get all the headlines. But, there’s a whole world of high-quality, lesser-known brands on the market just waiting for you to try.
When it comes to American whiskey, places like Kentucky and Tennessee seem to dominate the discussion. It’s true that a large portion of America’s greatest whiskey comes these two states, but places like Oregon, Alabama, Illinois, and even Texas are making great whiskeys, too.
Take a look at some of our favorite brands and branch out from the usual Will Turkey and Bulleit.
Garrison Brothers in Hye, Texas, doesn’t make any spirits besides whiskey, specifically Texas bourbon. Their whiskeys are bold and taste like Texas in a bottle. The brand’s flagship offering is its Small Batch Bourbon. It’s made “corn-to-cork” and ages in the Texas heat for 3-Years in oak barrels. The end result is full of toffee, butterscotch, and dried fruit flavors.
Photo: Garrison Brothers
Chicken Cock Whiskey
First created way back in 1856, this brand was revived by entrepreneur Matti Antilla in 2011. To celebrate the brand’s 160th birthday, Chicken Cock released a single barrel 8-year-old bourbon. It was awarded a Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and shouldn’t be missed (if you can get your hands on a bottle).
Photo: Chicken Cock Whiskey
Clyde May's Whiskey
This brand is named for Clyde May who was an Alabama farmer and moonshiner. Back in 2001, his son decided to recreate his father’s recipe and began to legally distill whiskey. The flagship offering is Clyde May’s Alabama Style. It’s aged for six to seven years in oak barrels before being finished with a hint of apple to pay tribute to classic apple pie moonshine.
Photo: Conecuh Brands
Nashville’s Corsair is definitely one of the bad-asses of the spirits world. To say the brand likes to play by its own rules is a massive understatement. In the past, they’ve made whiskey with hops, oatmeal stout, and one featuring pretty much any grain possible. One of their most interesting current styles is Quinoa Whiskey. Yes, you read that right. They distilled a whiskey with quinoa and malted barley.
Photo: Corsair Distillery
Another Texas-based distillery, Balcones is probably the one distillery you’ve actually heard about. That’s because the grain-to-glass distillery, which opened in 2009, has been cranking out award-winning spirits ever since. One of the best is Balcones Brimstone. This Texas scrub oak smoked whiskey has won numerous awards and will appeal to fans of both Islay Scotches and bourbon drinkers.
Photo: Balcones Distilling
Located in Evanston, Illinois, FEW makes more than just whiskey. But, its white whiskey, rye whiskey, and bourbon are definitely not to be missed. Winner of a silver medal by the International Review of Spirits, FEW Rye Whiskey is a complex, well-balanced rye whiskey with corn sweetness giving way to rye spice.
Photo: FEW Spirits
Westward Whiskey comes from Oregon’s House Spirits. It’s made using two row barley from the Pacific Northwest as well as American ale yeast. It’s double-pot distilled before being matured in American oak barrels. The result is a clean, complex whiskey with hints of vanilla and a subtle spicy kick.
Photo: House Spirits