Scotland, meet Virginia Credit: Virginia Distillery Co.
Scotland, meet Virginia
Credit: Virginia Distillery Co.

Independent spirits: America’s best whiskies not owned by you know who

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

Now that Big Whiskey has swallowed up just about everything you thought was a mom-and-pop shop, it’s time for some detective work. At Uproxx, editor Steve Bramucci enlists writers Zach Johnson and Christopher Osburn to suss out the top independent U.S. whiskies.

Among Johnson’s faves is Port Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky, from Virginia Distillery Co. If rules are made to be broken, what’s wrong with combining Virginia whiskey and Scotch? Sounds like the judges at the recent World Whiskies Awards agree—they named it Best American Blended Malt.

“Expect a dark, fruit-forward sip here,” Johnson says. “There’s a real sense of dried figs, raisins and plums. Next, a wonderful roll of buttery toffee comes into play with a nice Christmas spice edge. There’s a subtle alcohol burn on the back end that gives way to a hint of dark port sweetness.”

Portlandia in a bottle Credit: Eastside Distilling
Portlandia in a bottle
Credit: Eastside Distilling

Like big, spicy rye whiskies that can carry a tune? New York Distilling Co.’s Ragtime Rye is all that, Osburn says of the Brooklyn tribute to life before Prohibition, which is made from New York State grain and spends three years and change in American oak. “The spice is there, but it’s not so prevalent that you miss out on the other aspects of the whiskey. The subtle peppery spice makes way for a complex, warming finish that will leave you wanting more.”

Bramucci puts his money on Burnside Oregon Oaked Bourbon, by Eastside Distilling in his hometown of Portland. “This bottle is about as close as you can get to rum in a whiskey,” he says of the blend, adding that its strong fruit and vanilla notes would make a nice Old Fashioned. For Bramucci, there’s also a minerality that “leaves the sensation of water sipped straight from an Oregon stream as it cascades over the moss.” Cool.🥃

Subscribe to Neat Stuff

Get the latest news from the world of whisk(e)y delivered to you each week on a silver platter. Neat Stuff makes your life easier by distilling what you need to know down to a weekly newsletter. 

Close Menu

Subscribe to Neat Stuff

Get the latest news from the world of whisk(e)y delivered to you each week on a silver platter. Have a look at our past issues. Neat Stuff Subscribers get exclusive content and early access to the latest news in the fast moving world of whisk(e)y.

Know someone who would appreciate this site? Please share it with them.
Our privacy promise: We hate spam as much as you do. We will never send you spam. Your email address is secure with us.