Best Distilleries in North Carolina: Your Ultimate Boozy Adventure Guide

Are you a lover of whisky, rum, or gin? Well, North Carolina’s distilleries have got you covered! This Southern state isn’t just about sweet tea and BBQ. It’s also home to some of the finest spirits in the country. From small-batch bourbon to craft gin distilled from locally sourced ingredients, there’s something for every palate.

In fact, North Carolina has a rich history steeped in distilling spirits. Long before the craft beverage boom of recent years, locals were sipping moonshine made in hidden mountain stills during Prohibition days. Today, that tradition carries on with a modern twist as distillers combine time-tested techniques with innovative ideas to create unique flavors that reflect this region’s charm and character.

So sit back and pour yourself a glass as we journey through some of the best distilleries in North Carolina – where craftsmanship meets southern hospitality at its smoothest! Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or just starting your spirituous adventure, these destinations promise an unforgettable experience for your taste buds.

Exploring the History of Distilleries in North Carolina

Diving deep into North Carolina’s history, you’ll find that it’s steeped in a rich tradition of distilling. In fact, the state was one of America’s top spirit producers during the colonial era. Yes, indeed! Your favorite whiskey or rum might have had its humble beginnings right here.

brew in review featured image

Now let me take you back to the late 1700s. Back then, moonshine reigned supreme in these parts. Why? Well, corn was abundant and farmers quickly figured out they could make a pretty penny from converting their surplus crops into spirits. But it wasn’t all smooth sailing (or should I say sipping?). The Whiskey Rebellion in 1791 saw many distillers uprooting their operations and heading south to avoid hefty tax levies.

Fast forward to Prohibition in the 1920s – a dark time for booze lovers everywhere! North Carolina was no exception. It’s said that more than half of all illegal liquor produced during this time came from NC alone – quite an achievement!

So what changed? Well, when Prohibition ended and alcohol production became legal again, tight regulations kept many would-be entrepreneurs at bay for decades. But don’t you worry! Today there are over 60 licensed craft distilleries across our beloved state – each with its own unique flavors, techniques and stories to tell.

Here are some interesting statistics about North Carolina’s distillery scene:

Number of Craft Distilleries Year First Established
Over 60 Late 1700s

It really is fascinating how things have come full circle – from moonshine mavericks dodging taxes and laws to today’s craft spirit enthusiasts honing their skills legally within North Carolina’s borders.

Understanding the Distillation Process

Hey there, let’s dive into the fascinating world of distillation. It might seem technical but don’t worry, we’ll make it easy to grasp. Essentially, distillation is a process used to separate mixtures based on differences in their volatilities in a boiling liquid mixture.

Now you’re probably thinking, “That sounds like a lot of science.” And you’re right! But at its core, it’s about heating and cooling. When they’re making your favorite whiskey or vodka at North Carolina distilleries, they start by heating up a fermented mixture. This could be grains for whiskey or potatoes for vodka.

As this mixture heats up, alcohol – which boils at a lower temperature than water – turns into vapor first. This vapor travels through coiled pipes where it cools down and returns to its liquid form again – that’s your liquor!

But wait! It’s not ready just yet. The spirit then gets collected and aged (in some cases), which contributes to its final taste and character. Remember those oak barrels you’ve seen in distilleries? That’s where all the magic happens!

Here are some quick fun facts:

  • Distilling originated around 3000 BC with the production of perfumes.
  • North Carolina is home to over 60 craft distilleries!
  • Charlotte’s Great Wagon Road Distilling Company is the oldest registered distillery in Mecklenburg County.

So next time when you’re sipping on your favorite drink from one of our recommended best distilleries in North Carolina, remember what goes behind crafting each drop of that delight!

Top Whiskey Distilleries in North Carolina

You’re in for a treat with the whiskey scene down in North Carolina! This Southern state is home to a plethora of distilleries, each boasting their own unique spin on America’s favorite brown spirit. Let’s dive into some notable spots you’ll definitely want to put on your list.

First up is Defiant Whisky, situated in Golden Valley. These folks aren’t just making whiskey – they’re reinventing it! Using the finest malted barley, Defiant opts for a single-malt style that results in clean, bright flavors. But what sets them apart? It’s their revolutionary aging process. Instead of waiting years for oak barrels to do their work, Defiant uses specially cut spirals of premium American white oak, getting that rich flavor out faster and more efficiently.

Next on our journey is TOPO Organic Spirits based out of Chapel Hill. TOPO prides itself as being the only Green + Certified distillery in the country. Their award-winning whiskies are worth savoring – especially their Eight Oak Whiskey which boasts hints of caramel, vanilla and fresh berries.

Meanwhile over at Troy’s Southern Grace Distilleries, they’ve got an intriguing story: this craft distillery operates inside Mount Pleasant Prison, a former correctional facility! Their Conviction Small Batch Bourbon isn’t just delicious; it also holds the title as the first bourbon ever made behind bars – talk about unique!

  • Defiant Whisky: Revolutionizing traditional whisky.
  • TOPO Organic Spirits: The only Green + Certified distillery nationwide.
  • Southern Grace Distilleries: Crafting unique bourbon behind prison walls.

And let’s not forget Broadslab Distillery nestled amidst Benson’s farmlands. Jeremy Norris brings his family legacy alive by using recipes dating back to pre-prohibition times; his Broadslab Legacy Shine and Reserve are must-tries!

Finally we have Great Wagon Road Distilling Company located right at Charlotte’s bustling South End district. They serve up authentic Irish-style whiskeys distilled from 100% organic malted barley – perfect for those longing for that true taste of Ireland!

So gear up your palate and get ready to explore these top-notch whiskey producers throughout North Carolina!

Notable Gin and Vodka Distilleries in The State

Now, let’s dive into the heart of North Carolina’s spirits scene. There’s a lot going on here, but we’ll focus on some standout distilleries producing top-notch gin and vodka.

First up is Durham Distillery. This urban hotspot has been making waves since 2013 with its American Dry style Conniption Gins. They’ve got two varieties you should definitely try – the Conniption American Dry Gin and the Conniption Navy Strength Gin. Both have won multiple awards at global spirits competitions.

Over in Kings Mountain, you’ll find Dragon Moonshine Company. It’s one of the first legal moonshine distilleries in North Carolina since prohibition! They’re not just about moonshine though; their Dragon Vodka is pretty impressive too!

In downtown Asheville, there’s Chemist Spirits. These guys are craft distilling innovators who blend science and art to create exceptional gin. One look at their beautifully designed bottles tells you they mean business!

Next is Sutler’s Spirit Co., nestled in Winston-Salem. This small batch artisanal distillery prides itself on quality over quantity, producing a fantastic gin that boasts local ingredients.

Last but certainly not least is Topo Organic Distillery in Chapel Hill. As North Carolina’s only organic distillery, they produce an array of spirits including a tasty vodka made from locally sourced soft red winter wheat.

Here are these notable spots for your reference:

  • Durham Distillery, Durham
  • Dragon Moonshine Company, Kings Mountain
  • Chemist Spirits, Asheville
  • Sutler’s Spirit Co., Winston-Salem
  • Topo Organic Distillery, Chapel Hill

So if you’re planning to explore the Tar Heel state anytime soon or just looking for some great new gins and vodkas to try, these fine establishments should be high on your list!

Craft Rum Producers to Visit in North Carolina

Nothing says “vacation” quite like sipping on a handcrafted, locally-sourced rum. And where better to do that than North Carolina? The Tar Heel State is home to some of the best craft rum producers in the country. So grab your sunglasses and prepare for a delicious adventure! Here are some spots you just can’t miss.

First up, we’ve got Outer Banks Distilling, located in historic downtown Manteo. These guys are actually the first legal distillery on the Outer Banks and they’re known for their award-winning Kill Devil Rum series. You’ll appreciate their attention to detail and commitment to local sourcing – most of their ingredients come from right within North Carolina.

Next, there’s Muddy River Distillery over in Belmont. They’re one of the oldest rum distilleries in the state, and they specialize in making smooth, flavorful rums from top-grade molasses. Their Queen Charlotte’s Reserve is an absolute must-try!

If you find yourself near Durham, be sure not to miss Bros Vilgalys Spirits Company. While they’re famous for their unique Krupnikas – a Lithuanian style honey liqueur – their Zapotec Rum has been turning heads too with its distinct flavor profile featuring organic roasted cacao and piloncillo sugar cane.

Last but definitely not least is Call Family Distillers residing in Wilkesboro. This family-run operation uses a 100-year-old recipe passed down through generations resulting in truly distinctive apple pie moonshine and spiced rums.

So there you have it folks! A journey into North Carolina’s thriving craft rum scene that promises not only tantalizing flavors but also provides a peek into rich histories and heartwarming stories behind these brands.

Unique Liqueurs from Local North Carolinian Distilleries

North Carolina is not just about barbecue and basketball, it’s also home to some of the most unique distilleries in the country. And boy, do they have some special liqueurs for you! Let’s take a deep dive into some of these local gems that are churning out knock-your-socks-off spirits.

First up on our list is Broad Branch Distillery in Winston-Salem. They’ve been shaking things up with their Smashing Violet – an alluring blueberry liqueur that has captured hearts since its launch. It’s distilled from grain and aged in oak barrels, giving it a sweet yet slightly tart flavor profile.

But hey, don’t stop there! Over at Muddy River Distillery in Belmont, they’re serving up something really exceptional: Basil Carolina Rum. Now, this isn’t your average flavored rum — it’s infused with fresh basil leaves for a truly distinctive taste. Many folks say it adds an unexpected twist to cocktails!

Have you ever tried honey whiskey? If not, you’re missing out! Copper Barrel Distillery based in North Wilkesboro offers Honey Rye Whiskey that’ll make your tastebuds dance with joy. This silky smooth spirit combines the warming spice of rye with the sweetness of locally sourced honey – talk about a match made in heaven!

Let’s head over to Durham next where Brosily Craft Batch awaits us with their Cherry Bourbon Liqueur. This one-of-a-kind spirit blends bourbon whiskey with delicious sour cherries and natural cane sugar resulting in a liqueur full of rich flavors.

Here’s what we’ve got:

Distillery Location Unique Liqueur
Broad Branch Distillery Winston-Salem Smashing Violet Blueberry Liqueur
Muddy River Distillery Belmont Basil Carolina Rum
Copper Barrel Distillery North Wilkesboro Honey Rye Whiskey
Brosily Craft Batch Durham Cherry Bourbon Liqueur

So there you have it! North Carolina sure knows how to put its own spin on distilling spirits – making these unique liqueurs worth exploring on your next visit.

Touring Tips for Visiting North Carolina’s Best Distilleries

Embarking on a journey through North Carolina’s distilleries? You’re in for a treat! This region is renowned for its rich spirits tradition, and you’ll surely want to make the most out of your visit. Here are some insider tips to help you plan your distillery tour.

First things first, consider joining a guided tour. It’s an efficient way to see multiple distilleries without having to worry about driving or navigation. Many companies offer these services and they usually include transportation, tastings and sometimes even meals! Plus, guides can provide valuable insight into the history and production process behind each spirit.

Next up, be sure to pace yourself during tastings. Remember that it’s not just about quantity but quality too. Savor each sip as you taste different spirits from various distilleries – it’s all part of the experience!

  • Dress comfortably
  • Hydrate regularly
  • Eat before starting your tasting adventure

Remember: safety first! Always have a designated driver if you’re touring independently or opt for a taxi or ride-sharing service if needed.

Last but not least, don’t forget to support local businesses by purchasing their products if something catches your eye (or rather, tickles your palate). Each bottle bought helps sustain these artisanal establishments – plus, it makes for great souvenirs!

And there you have it! By keeping these tips in mind, you’re bound to have an unforgettable time exploring North Carolina’s vibrant distillery scene. Enjoy responsibly and happy tasting!

Conclusion: The Rich Liquor Heritage of North Carolina

So, you’ve journeyed with us through some of the best distilleries in North Carolina. You’ve seen the diversity, tasted the rich flavors and experienced the unique heritage that’s been brewed and distilled here for centuries. From moonshine to bourbon, rye whiskey to fruit brandies, it’s clear that North Carolina has a lot to offer.

What makes these distilleries truly stand out isn’t just their quality spirits or impressive production techniques. It’s also about their commitment to preserving a part of North Carolina’s history. Many of these establishments are family-owned, passing down recipes and traditions from generation to generation.

Let’s take a quick recap:

  • Broad Branch Distillery – Known for its bold Nightlab 1.0.
  • Lonerider Spirits – Where bourbon meets beer.
  • Outer Banks Distilling – Home of Kill Devil Rum.
  • Copper Barrel Provisions – Moonshine with a modern twist.
  • Great Wagon Road Distilling Company – Offering exquisite Rúa Single Malt Whiskey.

Each visit to these amazing places is like stepping back in time. You’re not only tasting delicious spirits but also getting a glimpse into how they were made years ago.

North Carolina’s liquor heritage is more than just about producing fine drinks. It’s about community spirit (pun intended), tradition and an undying love for craftsmanship. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or new on this spirited journey, there’s always something exciting brewing in this state!

The next time you decide on exploring America’s craft spirit scene, remember North Carolina should be high on your list! Enjoy responsibly and remember each sip tells a story – one that spans generations and continues to make history today!

Scroll to Top