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Since the days of Prohibition, Americans have been finding clever ways to concoct their own spirits. Today, as many states further relax their liquor-making laws — thus enabling small-batch distilleries to enter the market — artisans are perfecting their craft and producing high-end spirits that can compete with those produced by the large distilleries.

Pat Couteaux (pictured), master distiller for one such venture, SHAKERS Vodka, and one of the original forces behind Pete’s Wicked Ale, compares today’s microdistillery boom to the microbrewery boom of the 1990s. “Just as microbreweries showed that the U.S. could produce great beer, microdistilleries are proving that America can make great vodka.” And many other spirits too.

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Pat Couteaux
One appeal of artisanal spirits is getting a taste of the local flavor. McCarthy’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey is aged in barrels made from air-dried Oregon oak, while High Plains Distillery’s Fox Vodka is produced on a farm in Kansas using grains from the heartland. And Infinite Spirits sources ingredients for its SHAKERS Vodka from a group of Minnesota wheat and rye farmers.

Seth Fox, whose High Plains Distillery also produces the hip-in-Hollywood Haute Vodka (it’s been poured at pre-Oscar parties as well as at parties at the Sundance Film Festival), says “you can get a wide variation of taste from microdistilleries because each one has a different way of doing things, much like a winery. This makes it very exciting for people that are looking for the next unique taste for spirits.”


 FOR A TASTE OF GREAT AMERICAN-MADE ARTISANAL LIQUOR, TRY ONE OF THESE SMALL-BATCH SPIRITS.

SHAKERS VODKA
The unique martini-shaker-shaped bottle holds vodka that’s been distilled six times through a continuous distillation process. shakersvodka.com

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BLUECOAT AMERICAN DRY GIN
Gin that’s craft distilled in a custom-built, hand-hammered copper pot still using organic juniper berries. bluecoatgin.com

HAUTE VODKAHip Haute is created with a blend of American corn and grain and pure spring water by a seventh-generation, award-winning master distiller. hautevodka.com

MCCARTHY’S OREGON SINGLE MALT WHISKEY
Made from peat-malted barley brought in from Scotland, this smooth whiskey has a surprisingly clean finish. clearcreekdistillery.com

FOX VODKA AND MOST WANTED VODKA
Kansas-grown wheat imparts mild hints of praline, buttercream, and eggnog on Fox Vodka, while Most Wanted has a snappy, peppery fade. foxvodka.com