Celebrating Independence with Independent Distilleries
PUBLISHED JUL 01, 2019
16 mins read
On July 4th, 1776 the Continental Congress approved Thomas Jefferson’s final text of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration boldly proclaimed that the thirteen colonies under British rule would henceforth regard themselves as sovereign states. Fast forward about 240 years. Independence Day is now a national holiday, celebrated with fireworks, mattress sales and weekends full of grilled meat and, often, wonderful concoctions of alcoholic spirits. Most of those spirits are from multinational conglomerates and wholly owned subsidiaries. But some come from smaller distilleries that have, much like the founding fathers, declared their independence from the staid production methods of corporate distilling. Call it the craft revolution.
According to the 2018 Craft Spirits Data Project by the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), the number of active independent distillers in America continues to rise at record rates. The number grew by 15.5 percent from 2017 to 2018 and it’s expected to rise at least another 17.5 percent in 2019. Also, the market share of craft spirits reached an all-time high at 4.6 percent in value in 2017, up about 1 percent from 2016. This too is expected to rise in years to come.
To celebrate the continued rise of independent distilleries and your freedom to buy their spirits, BigFish has gathered a list of our partner distilleries that are located in the original thirteen colonies. But just as the colonies didn’t join the union all at once, not every craft distillery has partnered with BigFish yet. So stay tuned for our ever-growing list of independent distilleries.
New England colonies
Province of New Hampshire
- Tall Ship Distillery: After two years of 70-hour work weeks, plenty of determination, and the unwavering support of his wife Mary and his family and friends, in 2001, John Pantelakos was able to open the first liquor distillery in the city of Dover, NH since the 1700’s. After 18 years of hard work, they now offer four varieties of rum, a vodka, and plenty of merch so you can support this craft distillery both in spirit and in style.
Province of Massachusetts Bay
- Rumson’s Rum: At Rumson’s it's simple: They create exceptional spirits. Rumson’s, located in Salem, Massachusetts, was named as New England’s Most Awarded Rum Brand. A composite of fine aged Caribbean rum is custom blended to create a unique flavor exclusive to Rumson’s. These rums are chosen for their distinctive and savory profiles and the result is a collection of memorable spirits and memorable stories.
Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
- We are working on finding distiller partners from this colony. Signup for our newsletter to learn when they hit our warehouse.
- Litchfield Distillery: Litchfield Distillery proudly offers nationally-recognized, award-winning spirits for all tastes. They call themselves 'The Batchers' in honor of the early farmers of northwest Connecticut, a region known for its ample yields of wheat, sweet corn, and barley. The farmers do the growing, Litchfield’s distillers do the batching, and you get a taste of Litchfield County. Taste for yourself why their Spirit of Hard Work® continues to capture the attention of spirit lovers from coast-to-coast.
Province of New York
- Albany Distilling Co.: The Albany Distilling Company was founded in early 2011 and commenced operations in July of the following year. They started with a bourbon mash, releasing it first as a new make and eventually as a three-month-old bourbon. Albany Distilling’s next product was an unaged rum inspired by their proximity to Albany's original 18th century distillery, following a recipe from that era.
Cooperstown Distillery: Cooperstown Distillery is the first and only distillery in beautiful Otsego County. Drawing from the history and bucolic beauty of the region, their high-quality, hand-crafted spirits are inspired by the literature of James Fenimore Cooper, the crystal-clear waters of their 'Glimmerglass Lake' and the nostalgic baseball legacy of Cooperstown, New York, home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Honeoye Falls Distillery: Just a short drive from Rochester, NY, the small, picturesque town of Honeoye Falls was the ideal location for a New York State Farm Distillery. Through their partnerships with dedicated guardians of their local bounty, Honeoye Falls Distillery proudly crafts unique, high quality spirits that showcase the rich agricultural history of the region.
- Clayton Distillery: All of their products begin on their fifth-generation family farm in Cape Vincent, New York. The four-hundred-acre farm was an active dairy farm until 2006 and is now used for growing corn, rye, and alfalfa. They also purchase corn from Gracie Farms in Watertown, New York and wheat from Robbins Family Farm in Sackets Harbor, New York. Malted barley is purchased from Pioneer Malting in Rochester, New York and through a brewers’ supply group. Today, their 100% corn mash, 190 proof grain alcohol that is the base for most of their products is as clean and smooth as anything you can find on the market. Additionally, they have perfected their New York Straight Bourbon Whisky.
- Kerrs Creek Distillery: The story of Kerrs Creek Distillery began almost 100 years ago in a tiny hamlet of the Catskills. A grandpa and his son decided to distill bootleg alcohol and ship it down to the Big City under the guise of a piano moving business. Packed in pianos, the bottles were moved, undetected, and delivered to countless speakeasies. During prohibition this father-son team refined their craft, taking pride in what they were creating.
- Myer Farm Distillers: Myer Farm Distillers is nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, amid the thriving wineries of the Cayuga Wine Trail. The farm is located on what was originally part of Military Lot No. 13, the town of Ovid being among a group of towns in central New York State that were known after the Revolutionary War as Military Tract Townships. They designed the building to reflect the old distilleries of Scotland. With their pagoda-topped stillhouse paying homage to Scottish malt houses, finished in hand-cut and chiseled wall stone, they hope to give you a taste of their attention to detail and craftsmanship.
- Lock 1 Distilling Company: Lock 1 Distilling Company is the first distillery to open in Oswego County since prohibition. The distillery sits right across the street from Lock 1 of the Oswego Barge Canal. The same canal preferred by bootleggers as the main artery from Canada to NYC during prohibition. With the origins of Lock 1 Distilling Company firmly rooted in a family of metal fabricators, their goal is to produce the finest spirits available using their custom designed, handmade equipment. Just like the spirits they produce, their equipment is handcrafted and designed in house to yield the highest quality small batch products possible.
- Twin Stills Moonshine Distillery: Joe Cunha’s grandfather was 14 years old when they set up a distillery during prohibition. As best as anyone can remember, he was in charge of the stills while Joe’s great grandfather farmed the lands that he owned. Since no records were kept back then, it's hard to tell where the spirits ended up. All Mr. Cunha, the distillery’s owner, knows is that he didn’t drink it all by himself! Twin Stills Moonshine Distillery’s whiskey is an old Portuguese tradition of single small batch distillation combined with legendary Long Island, New York corn. Aged to perfection...or not all. They're proud to serve these wonderful spirits, made with products grown in New York, and to share their family’s traditional small batch of whiskies and flavor-infused Moonshines.
- Gristmill Distillers: Gristmill Distillers’ water flows straight from a spring within a few paces of the distillery’s front door, the corn is grown by Adirondack Organic Grains nearby, and their brandy apples are grown, picked, and pressed fresh by Rulf’s Orchard, less than thirty-five miles down the road. Gristmill Distillers’ barrels are made to order from U.S. Barrel, the oldest cooperage in the northeast and, luckily for them, are only a couple of towns over in Wilmington. They’re a New York state farm distillery as homegrown as their products.
- Union Grove Distillery: Union Grove Distillery is a farm licensed craft distillery located in the beautiful Catskill Mountains in Arkville, New York. Their family run distillery has been in operation since February 2016. Owners Brian Mulder and Todd Pascarella, with the encouragement of their wives Penny and Jeanine, decided to change careers from construction, spray foam, and cellulose insulation to distilling. Both having extensive experience in construction, building science, and the insulation business, all of the renovations done in the tasting room were done by Brian and Todd.
Province of New Jersey
- Jersey Artisan Distilling: Many months of hard work helped Jersey Artisan Distilling become the first New Jersey distillery since Prohibition ended. They focus on making their spirits in the classic style, using modernized versions of techniques that have made spirits great since colonial times. Jersey Artisan Distilling’s primary focus is on making rum, bringing back the flavors and tastes that made it one of the most popular spirits in history.
- Sourland Mountain Spirits: With their rich history of farmers, bootleggers, rebels, and fine craftsmen and artisans, the Sourland Mountains are the perfect setting for a distillery. Drawing from an aquifer at the base of the Sourland range, their water is filtered through micro-fractures in the mountains, protected by the largest contiguous forest in Central New Jersey. Their goal isn’t just to make Sourland Mountain Spirits a success, but to also bring a local, handcrafted, sustainable product to the greater Hopewell community that they can all be proud of.
- Milk Street Distillery: Brothers Mike and Gordon Geerhart co-founded Milk Street Distillery in 2015 after a lengthy career in commercial contracting. Utilizing their construction skills, they spent two years transforming their 125-year-old building into a distillery and tasting room. Working seven days a week for two years, they have grown their catalog to include two vodkas, three whiskies, rum and a rye grain spirit. Mike and Gordon have found support from their local community and are continuing to grow and produce new products for everyone's continued enjoyment.
Province of Pennsylvania
- CJ Spirits: When Pennsylvania made limited distillery licenses available in 2012, middle school friends Sam Cummings and Tom Jones jumped at the opportunity and began to make their business from scratch. As the first craft distillery in northwestern Pennsylvania, they use locally grown grains, a great attention to detail, and pure Allegheny mountain spring water. Sam and Tom use excellent equipment with classic methods to craft incredible award-winning spirits across a broad range of categories.
- Liberty Pole Spirits: In 1791, the people of Washington County struggled against weather and disease, enjoying few luxuries. But through the ingenuity of the Colonists, whiskey was born. The government saw its popularity and used the opportunity to create an excise tax on whiskey, making it even harder for farmers to grow crops and keep their land. They gathered in a meetinghouse and vowed not to pay the tax, calling themselves the Mingo Creek Society. As a symbol of their unity, they planted Liberty Poles throughout the county. Today, grain grows in the same soil, travels down the same paths, and arrives at the Mingo Creek Meetinghouse where it is distilled and enjoyed by the next generation, courtesy of Liberty Pole Spirits.
- Ridge Runner Distillery: Owner Christian W. Klay got his feet wet as a second-generation winemaker, learning to grow grapes, make, and sell wine from his mother, Sharon. Ridge Runner Distillery is an extension of their winemaking background, allowing them to make grape-based liquors, like Grappa and Brandy. From the heart of the whiskey rebellion, through the Ridge Runners of prohibition, to the micro-distillery renaissance currently sweeping the country, Ridge Runner Distillery retains the spirit of daring ingenuity that distillers had 200 years ago, infusing it into the spirits they make today.
- Kilimanjaro Distillery: Kishor’s story began in Tanzania where he spent Sundays doing charitable work in underprivileged communities. Niky’s journey has been fueled by a passion for bringing people together to make the world a richer place. Everything they do at Kilimanjaro Distillery is made with a commitment to creating the finest spirits the world can offer. A percentage of their profits are used to provide clean drinking water to communities through the Tanzania Water Project and the local Meals on Wheels Pennsylvania community.
- Crostwater Distilling: Victoria Close is a first-generation Russian whose parents came to the US after World War II. One of the very specific traditions that has been passed down from their heritage is the toasting with Holy Water during any special occasion, holiday, or family gathering. Holy Water is the Russian expression for Vodka. The spirits come from monks from the British Isles, the East Indies of the Americas with high seas trading and pirating, Dutch inspired macerations, Russian immigration success stories and old-fashioned American ingenuity.
- Painted Stave Distilling : Painted Stave Distilling crafts premium spirits in small batches by utilizing only the best ingredients sourced from regional farms, and by blending traditions of the past with today’s creativity and state-of-the-art technology.
Province of Maryland
- Twin Valley Distillers: Twin Valley Distillers is Montgomery County’s first operating distillery using local grains and products in an attempt to revive the fine art of handcrafted spirit-making in Maryland. ‘Maryland authentic’ is a term Twin Valley uses to highlight their commitment to the 'farm-to-table' concept, so popular in restaurants today. The quality of Twin Valley’s pristine, premium liquors is ensured by their master distiller, Edgardo Zuniga, whose unerring chef’s palate determines whether a new batch is ready for bottling or not.
- Dragon Distillery: Dragon Distillery is a small, veteran-owned business strongly rooted in the local Frederick, Maryland community. They specialize in small batch artisan spirits, made from the finest locally-sourced ingredients in a sustainable manner. Some may call Dragon Distillery quirky or eccentric, but they are happy to use that as inspiration for the creation of their unique, high-quality spirits.
Colony and Dominion of Virginia
- Falls Church Distillers: Falls Church Distillers is an award-winning distillery located in the Virginia suburbs, just outside of the nation’s capital. CEO Michael Paluzzi and his son Lorenzo distill their spirits with the goal to cater to those who demand satisfaction from all they experience. Their spirits are meant to be sipped, with each drop lingering on the palate for a well-rounded, enjoyable sensation.
- Catoctin Creek Distilling Co.: Catoctin Creek® was founded by Becky and Scott Harris in 2009 as the first legal distillery in Loudoun County since before Prohibition. Virginia is the birthplace of American whisky, and at Catoctin Creek, they faithfully dedicate themselves to that tradition, producing Virginia's most awarded whisky today: Roundstone Rye. At Catoctin Creek, they believe in high quality food and spirits. They source their grain and fruit from local and organic sources, free of pesticides and chemical additives. The results are the finest, cleanest spirits possible, with the greatest attention to detail in every single bottle they produce.
- Ragged Branch: Founded in 2010, Ragged Branch was born of Alex Toomy’s desire to establish a bourbon distillery in the Ragged Mountains outside Charlottesville, Virginia, with his friends and colleagues, Chris Sarpy and Russell Nance. Wanting to learn from the best, the partners consulted with bourbon artisan Dave Pickerell, who taught them the time-honored, old-school methods of producing straight bourbon whiskey. From the beginning, Ragged Branch has been committed to crafting the finest, authentic Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey with no short-cuts.
- Vitae Spirits: Vitae Spirits is a family-owned craft distillery in Charlottesville, Virginia, that produces small batch spirits with a focus on quality and hands-on, artisanal values. What makes their products unique isn’t solely the influence of the region’s physical environment, but also their place within a community. Vitae Spirits Distillery prides itself on taking basic raw ingredients and turning them into faithful expressions of their botanical origins.
- Ironclad Distillery Co.: In 1862, one year into the American Civil War, the first ships to be armored in iron engaged in the waters off the Port of Newport News, Virginia. A few hours later, the Navy would be changed forever. That mighty battle inspired Ironclad Distillery Co’s name. It’s also why they stick to their guns and make authentic bourbon. That’s it, and nothing else. It’s the Ironclad rule.
- Reservoir Distillery: Reservoir Distillery is a multiple Double Gold award-winning distillery located in Richmond, Virginia, created by proprietors and lifelong friends Jay Carpenter and David Cuttino. While tailgating at a Virginia Tech football game and enjoying a respected brand-name bourbon, they decided that if they combined their innate talents and passions for fine whiskey, they could produce a highly exceptional spirit that reflected their Virginia roots and desire to bring their friends and family together. Just like that, Reservoir was born.
- Twin Creeks Distillery: Chris Prillaman, owner and Master Distiller started his small batch distillery in 2015 by selling three spirits that were close to his heart and the traditions he was raised with. Being from Franklin County VA, the Moonshine Capital of the World, Chris grew up among moonshiners and bootleggers that taught him the great whiskey-making traditions and secrets that have turned his into an award- winning distillery.
- Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery: In 2014, a war zone political advisor and a rocket scientist teamed up to create a Virginia distillery dedicated to reviving classic, forgotten, slandered, and forbidden spirits. Marc Chretien spent seven years advising top military brass in Iraq and Afghanistan. He decided that it was time to pursue a more pastoral occupation. Peter Ahlf worked at NASA Headquarters, furthering human exploration of space on the Space Shuttle and Space Station programs. He thought it would be fun to make a different kind of rocket fuel.
- Virago Spirits: Virago Spirits produces classically inspired, creatively interpreted spirits. A virago is defined as a heroic woman of great strength, courage, determination, and vision. The people of Virago Spirits work to infuse these very characteristics - the spirit of Virago - into everything they do and all that they make. As people, they promote character. As a company, they produce ‘Character, Distilled.’
Province of Carolina
- North Carolina:
- H&H Distillery: Over seventy years after the repeal of Prohibition, the idea for a small craft distillery was sketched onto an unassuming napkin. That was the first step in creating Asheville’s award-winning distillery H&H. Father-son duo Wendell and Taylor Howard (H&H) set out to create spirits that are uniquely theirs while still paying tribute to their deep regional roots. H&H exemplifies what makes Asheville so great: hard work, creativity and locally-minded values.
- Durham Distillery: Since 2013, Durham Distillery has been rethinking how to make great spirits that both embody and pioneer the New South. The answer: equal parts art and science. Originally scientists, founders Melissa and Lee Katrincic have combined time-honored, gin-making traditions with techniques borrowed from modern chemistry to create world class spirits that are both classic and contemporary. Taste their products and you will recognize a masterpiece.
- Howling Moon Distillery: Cody Bradford started Howling Moon Distillery in 2010 with the help of his brother. The moonshine Howling Moon produces is reminiscent of the moonshine Cody’s third cousin, North Carolina gang leader Hiram Wilson, used to distill. Howling Moon fills the need for a locally made, natural, true craft moonshine with a long-documented history, an authentic story, and an authentic product.
- Fainting Goat Spirits: At Fainting Goat Spirits, this family of distillers take tremendous pride in their process that truly makes a difference in the quality of their hand-crafted, small-batch spirits. They source North Carolina grown Soft Red Wheat, Corn and Rye from a small family owned and operated farm in Marshville, NC. The folks at Fainting Goat Spirits are making a name for themselves in the industry by taking their time to insure they produce only the highest quality, noteworthy spirits that win at each competition they enter.
- South Carolina:
- Palmetto Distillery: Palmetto Distillery is a labor of love for Trey and Bryan Boggs. They are entrepreneurs, southern to the bone, and most importantly, spirit connoisseurs. The brothers drew inspiration from their own heritage and that of South Carolina to create Palmetto Distillery, which produces South Carolina’s first legal moonshine, as well as fine southern whiskey. They take pride in creating products that showcase the colorful history of the Palmetto State and the deep connection their brands have to South Carolina.
- Crouch Distilling: Phil and Jessica Crouch started their distillery in 2014 to make their own whiskey, not repackage someone else’s. They are proud to mash and distill their own spirits in small batches. Their whiskeys, brandies, and rums are handcrafted on site, using only the best ingredients.
- Red Bordner Distillery: By age 12, Red had started learning his way around the still, making mash and watching his family make moonshine. With over 50 years of experience, he has perfected the art of making real moonshine, except now it’s legal to buy and share. Located in Boiling Springs, SC, just east of what he calls 'home,' Red personally mixes every mash in-house using 100% raw products, assuring every bottle is the highest quality spirit of its kind.
- Hollow Creek Distillery: Hollow Creek Distillery offers small batch, hand-crafted moonshine. Their pride and passion won't allow them to take the easy road of buying bulk spirits. Instead, they started with a recipe that has more experience than the law allows and built this business with the intention of providing high quality spirits to a market thirsty for old-fashioned moonshine. From a planted seed to a sealed bottle, this is theirs.
Province of Georgia
Ghost Coast Distillery: Ghost Coast Distillery embraces Savannah’s spirited and storied history – one of indulgence, light-hearted mischief, and jubilation. They honored The Spirit of Savannah by opening Ghost Coast Distillery, Savannah’s first distillery since just before prohibition. At Ghost Coast Distillery, they strive to make the finest craft spirits, while embracing and celebrating Savannah’s unique past and vibrant future.