The 11 Best Distilleries You’ve Never Heard Of,
but should Know

There are roughly 2,000 whiskey distilleries in the United States, and at least one in each state.  And it seems that more crop up every day, with 500 more distilleries in 2021 than there were in 2018.

While some of these distilleries are well known, and may even feature on the Kentucky Bourbon Trails, other distilleries fly under the radar.  Even though they aren’t as well known, these distilleries produce quality whiskey, and may even offer a better price versus their famous counterparts.

If you want to expand your whiskey collection, read on for the 11 best distilleries you’ve never heard of, but should have.


Prichard’s Distillery

Located in Kelso, Tennessee, Prichard’s is a hidden gem distillery.  The first legal distillery in Tennessee in over 50 years, they started producing rum in 1997 and followed with whiskey shortly thereafter.  They’ve since become one of 11 distilleries you’ve never heard of, but you should know.

Another reason to check this distillery out is its free tours and tastings.  If you’re looking for an interesting flavored bourbon that isn’t sweet, try Prichard’s Double Chocolate Bourbon.

 

Treaty Oak Distillery

Treaty Oak Distillery makes the list of 11 best distilleries you’ve never heard of, but should have.  Their location in Texas on a 28 acre ranch called Ghost Hill is producing some quality whiskey, thanks to founder and CEO Daniel Barnes.

Related: How is Bourbon Made?

The distillery sources their grains and water as locally as possible, and disclose the partners they work – who all seem as locally minded as they are.

When you head to Treaty Oak, be sure to stop by Alice’s Restaurant on-site, offering elevated BBQ, sandwiches, and salads.

Bull Run Distilling

The Bull Run Distillery out of Portland, Oregon is definitely one of the 11 best distilleries you’ve never heard of, but should have. Bull Run was even featured by my favorite whiskey subscription service winner- RackHouse Whiskey Club  as one of their featured distilleries and personally I can’t think of much higher priase.

Lee Medoff, Head Distiller and Founder, was one of the founding members of the Oregon Distillers Guild.  In 2010 he started Bull Run Distillery, with dreams of creating pure malt Oregon Whiskey.

Related: Best Whiskey Cocktails for Summer

Bull Run now produces, in addition to its single malt whiskey, an American whiskey with 96% corn, and a pinot noir finished whiskey using French oak barrels, a truffle vodka,  and a few other interesting spirits.

The distillery uses water from the Bull Run Watershed, soft water that is pristine and protected by congress.

 

High West Distillery

One of the 11 best distilleries you’ve never heard of, but should have, is the High West Distillery, located in Wanship, Utah.  Utah is not known for their distilleries – in fact, they’re the driest state in the US, with only 31.7% of adults consuming alcohol on a monthly basis.

But in 2006, David and Jane Perkins founded the first legal distillery in Utah since 1870, and they now successfully operate four locations.  In 2016 High West was named Distiller of the Year by Whisky Advocate, and they’ve won multiple awards.  This distillery is worth the trip to Utah.

Boot Hill Distillery

Boot Hill Distillery operates out of the 1929 built municipal building in Dodge City, Kansas.  They began releasing their bourbon in 2017, and took Gold at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

The founder and fifth generation farmer says, “If we don’t grow the product, we won’t make spirit out of it.”  That kind of attitude makes Boot Hill one of the 11 distilleries you’ve never heard of, but you should know.

 

Blinking Owl

Okay, maybe you’ve heard of Blinking Owl – after all, it was featured in Forbes Magazine after it won multiple awards at the American Whiskey Masters.  But most Americans still aren’t aware that some of the best whiskey is being produced in Orange County, California.  They definitely make the list of the 11 best distilleries you’ve never heard of, but should have

Produced with quality water from Santa Ana (voted best tasting water in the United States) and organic California grains, the wheated whiskey from Blinking Owl has a lot of the same flavor profiles as Buffalo Trace.

Related: The 11 Health Benefits of Whiskey

They produce a range of award winning spirits, but their best whiskies are California Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and California Straight Rye Whiskey.

King’s Family Distillery

Run out of Pigeon Forge, the King’s Family Distillery is an award winning family production, headed by Cara and Justin King.

Cara’s family comes from the grain business, and she began investing in barrels in 2015.  The distillery focuses on good quality grain sources, as well as the finishing process.  On top of some fantastic bourbon and rye, both with high corn in the mash bill, King’s Family produces moonshine from their bourbon barrels.

They definitely make the list of the 11 best distilleries you’ve never heard of, but should have.

 

Buckshee Bourbon & Rye

Buckshee Distillery, which makes bourbon and rye, top the list of the 11 best distilleries you’ve never heard of, but should have.  They also are known for being the World’s Most Dangerous Whiskey.

Why dangerous?  The founder smuggled $10 million of alcohol down the world’s most dangerous road in the Middle East, to the infamous Baghdad Country Club.

Buckshee is proud to be owned and operated by military veterans.

California Charbay

Don’t let this whiskey fool you – to look at it, you would think it was wine.  That’s because Charbay is located in Napa Valley, and the whiskies coming from this distillery are seriously off the wall making them a natural choice for the 11 best distilleries you’ve never heard of, but should have.

They distill their whiskeys from bottle-ready beers, including IPAs and stouts, giving some very interest flavours.  Anything out of this distillery is worth checking out.

RockFilter Distillery

This distillery makes the list of the 11 best distilleries you’ve never heard of, but should have, because of their promise to plant, mill, and distill “a stone’s throw” from Spring Grove, Minnesota.

The farm is organic, non-GMO, and home to livestock that enriches the soil.  RockFilter says that this produces top quality whiskey, and the critics seem to agree with them.  Unfortunately this whiskey is hard to find outside of Minnesota, but if you can get your hands on their experiment.

Old Nick Williams Distillery

While Old Nick Williams definitely make the list of 11 distilleries you’ve never heard of, but you should know, you really should know them.  This whiskey company was established in 1768, and after nearly 100 years of not operating, Old Nick Williams Distillery was resurrected in 2014.  Zeb Williams now continues in his family’s footsteps, making high quality whiskey.

Zeb was lucky enough to find an intact bottle of his family’s whiskey on the property, and after being analyzed, it helped to reverse engineer today’s version to keep the brand authentic.  While this distillery was forgotten for so long, the story can now continue on.


 

Which of the 11 best distilleries you’ve never heard of, but should have are you going to check out first? Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of them and it’s super great to see all of these distilleries producing great quality whiskey- all with their own unique twist.

Stay Gold.

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