The holiday season is upon us and if you’re looking for something a bit different, it’s a great time to support Southern makers. We’ve featured artists and craftsmen but this guide highlights the people that make the famous spirits the region is so known for.
The prices of these products vary so click the links for the most up-to-date information. The availability also varies due to laws related to the shipment of alcohol.
Southern Made Spirits
Blade and Bow Bourbon Whiskey, Louisville, Kentucky
Blade and Bow Whiskey is a product of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, which dates back to 1935. Its logo represents the five keys once hung at the door.
The distillery makes two products, their Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and the 22-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. They’re both aged in new white oak barrels and have won awards for craftsmanship.
Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey, Frankfort, Kentucky
The Kentucky Bourbon Trail starts outside of Lexington and has dozens of stops. But the Buffalo Trace Distillery is one of the oldest, even operating during Prohibition.
The brand creates many different labels, including Blanton’s single barrel bourbon whiskey. Each bottle has a different top with a jockey on it and has notes of vanilla and citrus.
Reservoir Hunter & Scott Bourbon, Richmond, Virginia
Named one of the best whiskey distilleries in the South, Reservoir Distillery is located in Richmond, Virginia. The Hunter & Scott bourbon whiskey is made with grains from no more than 40 miles away. They also make rye whiskey and wheat whiskey.
Conniption American Dry Gin, Durham Distillery, Durham, North Carolina
Durham Distillery in Durham, North Carolina was founded in 2013 and is known for its gin. Conniption American Dry Gin is crisp with notes of citrus and cucumber.
The distillery also has a barrel aged gin, a “navy strength” gin, cucumber vodka, canned cocktails, and coffee, chocolate, and mocha liqueurs.
Old Fourth Distillery, Atlanta, Georgia
Located in Atlanta‘s Old Fourth Ward, Old Fourth Distillery was established in 2014. Their dry gin uses Italian wheat and a group of botanicals and citrus.
The company also makes straight bourbon whiskey, vodka, and Lawn Dart, a ginger lemon liqueur. There’s even a cocktail bar across the street that creates drinks with their products.
Modern Gin, Vitae Sprits Distillery, Charlottesville, Virginia
Opened in 2015, Vitae Spirits is located in Charlottesville, Virginia. The distillery sources as many ingredients from Virginia as possible, including in their Modern Gin, which uses sixteen botanicals.
They also have anisette, rum, coffee, orange, and paw paw liqueurs, and cocktail kits.
Order a bottle through the distillery or SpiritHub.
Wonderbird Gin, Taylor, Mississippi
Located outside of Oxford, Wonderbird Spirits is the first distillery in north Mississippi, opened in 2019. Their signature product is gin, made with rice from the Mississippi Delta.
It follows a Japanese tradition of using rice as the neutral spirit. Their tasting room is open for sales and tastings.
Call Family Distillers Uncatchable Moonshine, Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Wilkesboro, North Carolina is one of many places where moonshine was once created illegally (and maybe still is). Call Family Distillers was led by “The Uncatchable” Willie Call. In fact, a relative teamed up with Jack Daniel in the 1800s but later sold his stake in the company.
Call Family Distillers has a number of moonshine products, including strawberry and cherry flavored versions. But it’s the 101-proof clear moonshine that is the most popular.
Purchase a bottle by visiting the distillery.
Doc Collier Moonshine, Gatlinburg, Tennessee
The Smokies has dozens of commercial moonshine distilleries but Doc Collier in Gatlinburg stands above the rest. Named for a local moonshiner, it follows the same recipe from the days of Prohibition.
Like with other moonshine distilleries, Doc Collier has flavored options like blackberry and “Mountain Dew.” Doc’s 125 is their strongest label made of corn and cane sugar.
Purchase a bottle by visiting the distillery.
Bayou Spiced Rum, Lacassine, Louisiana
Located outside of Lake Charles, Bayou Rum Distillery is the largest privately-owned rum distillery in the country. They produce rum with local molasses and sugar cane by hand and mix in Cajun flavors before barrel aging.
Among the lineup is a Select Rum, the ever-popular Satsuma Rum, Silver Rum, and Bayou Spiced Rum, which is the best. They offer tours and tastings of the facility as well as sales.
Black rum, Charboneau Distillery, Natchez, Mississippi
Named for the family that owns it, Charboneau Distillery in Natchez is home to the first legally distilled rum produced in Mississippi.
They make white rum, gold rum, and rouge rum, aged in Napa wine barrels. The black rum uses coffee from Steampunk Coffee Roasters, another local business.
Old New Orleans Cajun Spiced Rum, New Orleans, Louisiana
Old New Orleans in New Orleans is located in the city’s Ninth Ward. It survived Hurricane Katrina and continues to craft specialty rums.
The Cajun Spice rum is their signature product with notes of cayenne and cinnamon. Other favorites are the 10 Year Special Rum and Gingeroo, a blend of the Crystal rum and ginger soda.
Richland Single Estate Old Georgia Rum, Richland, Georgia
A favorite of President Jimmy Carter, Richland Rum is located in the small town of Richland, outside of Americus, but they have a second location in Brunswick on the Georgia Coast.
The company’s rum has been made on their sugarcane estate since 1999. It’s distilled in the Agricole style of the Caribbean, perfect for those that don’t usually drink rum.
Cathead Vodka, Jackson, Mississippi
Cathead Distillery in Jackson, Mississippi is the first craft distillery in the state. Named for a part of blues culture, the distillery makes small-batch vodka charcoal filtered six times for a smooth taste.
In addition to vodka, Cathead produces honeysuckle and pecan flavored vodkas, Hoodoo chicory coffee liqueur, Old Soul Bourbon Whiskey, and Bristow gin.
Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka, Charleston, South Carolina
Firefly Distillery in Charleston, South Carolina was the first to produce sweet tea vodka. Originally created on Wadmalaw Island, the company has since expanded to a production facility in North Charleston.
The company also makes traditional vodka, lemonade vodka, flavored moonshine, Sea Island rum, sweet tea whiskey, and dry gin.
Redmont Vodka, Birmingham, Alabama
Redmont Distillery in Birmingham takes its name from the “Red Mountain,” the city’s source of iron for hundreds of years. The distillery was founded in 2015 and has sports legend Charles Barkley as one of its owners.
In addition to the Redmont Vodka, the company has Vulcan Gin, named for the statue of the Roman god of fire that sits high above the city.
Purchase a bottle by visiting the distillery or visiting a liquor store in Alabama.
Social House Distillery, Kinston, North Carolina
Three Stacks Distilling Company in Kinston, North Carolina is the producer of Social House Vodka. Set in a 1906 power plant, the vodka is produced using aquifer water.
It’s now the top-selling craft vodka in the state. During the pandemic, the company has also been producing hand sanitizer.
Purchase a bottle by visiting the distillery or visiting a liquor store in North Carolina.
Yellowfin Vodka, Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles, Louisiana is home to Yellowfin Distillery, named for the type of tuna that the owner enjoys fishing for. The company was founded in 2014 by an engineer.
The chief product at Yellowfin is its Otoro Single Estate Vodka, named for the most sought-after part of the tuna, incorporating Louisiana sugar cane. They also have Geaux Pokes Edition, a single estate vodka that is drier, best for martinis.
Purchase a bottle by visiting the distillery or visiting a liquor store in Louisiana.
American Spirit Works Double Malt Whiskey, Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta‘s American Spirit Works Distillery opened to acclaim on the Westside Beltline. One of its top sellers is the American Spirit Whiskey, a smooth silver whiskey that mixes well in cocktails.
The distillery also produces bourbon whiskey, double malt whiskey, rye whiskey, peated scotch-style whiskey, Irish-style whiskey, and even brandy.
Purchase a bottle by visiting the distillery.
Chattanooga Whiskey 1816 Reserve, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga‘s first distillery since Prohibition, Chattanooga Whiskey, literally changed the local laws in order to open. The 1816 series is the company’s most revered, including bourbon-style whiskey aged in barrels.
The company also makes Tennessee’s only high malt whiskey with varying finishes and proofs. There’s also a coffee liqueur, amaro, gin, and a variety of experimental bottles.
Black and Tan, H. Clark Distillery, Thompson’s Station, Tennessee
H. Clark Distillery is just one stop on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail but certainly one of the best. The distillery in a former granary also changed alcohol laws to produce their small-batch liquors.
They offer dry gin, oak-aged gin, Tennessee bourbon, and rye whiskey. But it’s the unique black and tan whiskey that sets it apart. The malt whiskey takes on a flavor of a black and tan beer, highlighting notes of vanilla and chocolate.
George Dickel Rye Whiskey, Tullahoma, Tennessee
Jack Daniel may be the original Tennessee distillery, but George Dickel, located outside of Nashville, followed shortly after. George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey started in 1878 using charcoal-filtered local water. It even operated during Prohibition.
Dickel makes a number of varieties of whiskey including rye, sour mash, barrel-aged, and even one type that is aged in Tabasco barrels, taking on a spicy flavor.
High Wire Revival Rye Whiskey, Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is home to High Wire Distillery, the city’s first since Prohibition. The company makes small-batch spirits, including gin, rum, whiskey, amaro, and vodka.
The Revival Rye Whiskey comes in two varieties. One uses heritage Jimmy Red corn while the other has Abruzzi rye. The sweet and floral whiskey has notes of cinnamon, ideal for cocktails like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.
18.21 Bitters, Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta‘s 18.21 Bitters crafts cocktail bitters for every flavor profile. Their gift sets feature their best syrups and bitters. The Bourbon and Whiskey Lovers Gift Set has three one-ounce flavors.
There are also gift sets for tequila and mezcal, gin, vodka, and rum, along with cocktail syrups, tinctures, syrups, shrubs, and ginger beer.
Order online or in-person at their store at Ponce City Market.
Charleston Bold and Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is certainly a city that appreciates a good cocktail. Charleston Beverage‘s Bloody Mary mix has won awards for its depth of flavor. There’s the Bold and Spicy version and a lighter Fresh and Veggie version.
Crude Bitters, Raleigh, North Carolina
Bitters is one of the easiest ways to transform a cocktail. Crude Bitters in Raleigh, North Carolina makes small-batch bitters and sodas, including hot pepper, coffee, and tiki styles.
Order a bottle on their website.
El Guapo Cucumber Lavender Bitters, New Orleans, Louisiana
El Guapo is continuing the tradition of New Orleans bitters started by Peychaud’s hundreds of years ago with bitters, cordials, syrups, and mixers. The company has chicory pecan, crawfish boil, and cucumber lavender bitters.
Jack Rudy Cocktail Syrup, Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston‘s own Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. makes everything you need for a classic drink. The small-batch bar goods include syrups, tonics, mixes, bitters, and accompaniments.
St. Augustine Rum Tiki Mixer, St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, is home to St. Augustine Distillery, which crafts artisan spirits, including vodka, gin, rum, and bourbon. But the company also makes mixers to go with them. The tiki mixer is an instant cocktail that transports you to the islands.
Woodford Reserve Spiced Orange Bitters, Versailles, Kentucky
One of Kentucky‘s most famed distilleries, Woodford Reserve is considered to be the top bourbons in the world. But the company also makes everything you need for a cocktail. This includes syrups, bitters, and bourbon-soaked cherries.
Glassware, Tools, and Accessories
Lowball glass, Pretentious Glassware, Knoxville, Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee’s Pretentious Glass Company creates incredible glassware in its Old City workshop. Each glass is crafted by hand including for wine, cocktails, and beer. They also make glasses for their brewery next door.
Order the lowball glass on Etsy.
Wooden Muddler, LeSeCrafts, West Palm Beach, Florida
A muddler is essential for drinks like a mojito. Purchase this hand-carved wooden muddler made in walnut, cherry, and maple. Each is treated with mineral oil and beeswax to protect it.
Order the wooden muddler on Etsy.
Southern Cocktails: Dixie Drinks, Party Potions, and Classic by Denise Gee
This cocktail book traces the origins of classic drinks like the mint julep while also supplying recipes for new versions. Pair with the appetizers included like deviled eggs for your next party.
Order Southern Cocktails on Amazon.
The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails by Sara Camp Milam and Jerry Slater
The folks at the Southern Foodways Alliance created this stunning coffee table book on over 100 Southern cocktails with incredible photos and recipes.
Order The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails on Amazon.
Beer Snobs says
Father’s day is right around the corner, and all my dad wants is a bottle or two of Moonshine to drink for the summer. I’m pretty intrigued with Doc Collier Moonshine, they have a combo of mountain dew and blackberry?! Sounds like we’re all going to have a hazy June lol