Craft distilleries proliferate. And that's a good thing
on 01/01/11 at 1:59 pmSpirits
For those who like a cup of holiday cheer, the rum in your eggnog is likely Caribbean, and the whiskey in your toddy is probably from Tennessee. But more and more small distilleries are hoping you’ll look closer to home when you make that toast.
Craft distillers are catering to drinkers who have a taste for the regional and the unique. They’re still just a fraction of the market, but more small-batch spirits are showing up on liquor-store shelves, next to pints of Jack Daniel’s and Everclear.
Walk into Mondo Vino, a liquor store in one of Denver’s trendier neighborhoods, and you’re not likely to recognize many of the bottles on the liquor shelves. Here, Jack Daniel’s and Absolut take a back seat to small-batch spirits.
“We’ve got whiskeys from Tuthilltown Spirits out of New York [to] the Whippersnapper out of Oregon,” says employee Matthew Burger. He says that drinkers in Denver have long demanded variety in their beer, and more and more of them want it in their spirits, too.
“Our customers are already looking for those things when they walk in the door,” Burger says, “because they want something a little more unusual, or something a little more artisanal.”
Big companies still produce the vast majority of spirits sold in the United States, but craft distilleries have taken off at the margins. This year, the federal government permitted 149 new distilleries — three times the number of just a few years ago.