25 Top Craft Distillery Tours in the US

Craft and artisan distilling is booming; where to taste and experience the new wave of spirits

The best craft distilleries to visit in the U.S.

The marvelous thing about visiting a craft distillery is getting up close and personal with the distillers, production, and learning the stories behind their adventurous ingredients. Their settings, ranging from hip urban warehouses to pastoral farms, are as distinctive as the unconventional methods they employ to create their cutting-edge spirits. There are so many fabulous micro-distilleries in Seattle, for example, that Tara Fuller and Craig Krueger, two local celebrity mixologists, host high-spirited half-day tours. Each tour is different, as they select the three that have the most interesting goings-on a particular day.  The tour features tastings a-plenty, including handcrafted cocktails and snacks created by famed Seattle chefs. And on a sunny ranch in hilly Hye, Texas, a hay-less wagon carts visitors down to Garrison Brothers’ distillery to watch these mojo-makers morph rainwater into bourbon. In Ashville, N.C., Troy Ball, one of the industry’s very-few female distillers, claims to have created a kick-ass moonshine that won’t leave you hungover. It seems that by only bottling the middle part of the liquid distillate called the "heart," they’ve eliminated toxic components like acetone and methanol, and sediments that provide that god-awful burning sensation and morning-after regret. What’s left is a sweet crisp ‘shine, densely flavored with heirloom white corn and pure local mountain water. 

So whether you are interested in sipping some freshly made hooch directly from the source, the craft, or simply contemplating interesting additions to your home stash, craft distilleries are extraordinary excursions. But how to choose? We’ve scoured the country and identified 25 of the most intriguing distilleries to tour. In selecting, we looked for places dedicated to sourcing local or homegrown ingredients, those employing unique production methods, intriguing tours hosted by impassioned distillers with compelling stories, breathtaking or out-of-the-ordinary settings, and those that offer one-of-a-kind hands-on experiences. Needless to say, each is distinctively fascinating.

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Freelance travel Journalist Stephanie Citron writes indigenous cultural and culinary environments for online publications and websites, magazines, and newspapers. Citron enjoys entertaining readers about the geographic idiosyncrasies, savory flavors, and magical hideaways she encounters on her explorations. She also authors the Celebrity Traveler, a monthly column in The Baltimore Sun, is a Forbes Travel Guide correspondent who covers Baltimore for their website, Startle.com, and has written a guide book on Tahiti. Citron worked on the launch of one of the Internet’s earliest family websites, mom.com, as the editor and a contributing writer for its Travel and Education channels. An impassioned cook, Barre-junkie and emerging cyclist, she is perpetually in pursuit of fresh, uncharted adventures.