Whiskey a Go-To

Handcrafted spirits from Florida and beyond make a perfect gift for Dad (or perhaps yourself).

Charleston, South Carolina

New Southern Revival Brand Sorghum Whiskey 88 proof, $55

This Low Country product is distilled from Tennessee sorghum, a grass closer to sugarcane than barley or rye. Co-founder and distiller Scott Blackwell is a trained baker from the Culinary Institute of America, and his pastry tastes show in this spirit. A purely sweet aroma of vanilla and butterscotch gives way to a lingering taste of Werther’s Original caramel that would be smashing in an Old Fashioned. highwiredistilling.com

 

Spokane, Washington

Straight Washington Wheat Whiskey 80 proof, $42

Dry Fly’s Bourbon 101 was the first legal bourbon ever made in the state of Washington. The soft white wheat distillation (co-founder Kent Fleischmann says that he can see the fields from his office) is aged three years in charred American oak, with a copper penny color and a sharp, slightly sweet taste. With water, it becomes smooth and eminently drinkable, with an almost mead-like honey smoothness. dryflydistilling.com

 

St. Petersburg, Florida

Old St. Pete Sweet Corn Whiskey 88 Proof, $40

St. Petersburg Distillery opened in 2014 to small batch-distill orange liqueur, honey wine, rum, gin, vodka and Old St. Pete corn whiskey. A bottle marked “Batch #1,” with a fabulous postcard-inspired label, offers a bit of smoke, a complex, fruity taste, and a slight level of sweetness. This blend of copper-pot Florida corn and oak-aged Heartland corn has no harshness whatsoever, with notes of sugar, apples and caramelized popcorn, a sipping whiskey of the first order. Adding water draws out the smoke. stpetersburgdistillery.com

 

Winter Park, Florida

Bear Gully Classic Corn Whiskey 107 proof, $40

When Winter Park Distilling co-founder Paul Twyford speaks of hand-crafted, it’s literally his hands. The company’s new “brewstillery” greatly expands tasting and production facilities from the small industrial space they’d used since the first product was created in 2011. Made from Florida corn, Classic drinks more like gin, with a deep flavor of roasted maize, a surprisingly smooth finish—considering the high alcohol content—and a suggestion of green husk that will change with each year’s new crops. “This isn’t blended and homogenized like the big guys,” Twyford says. “And this isn’t moonshine, either.” wpdistilling.com

 

Umatilla, Florida

Palm Ridge Reserve Whiskey 90 proof, $55

From their 80-acre farm in Umatilla, Dick and Marti Waters take four grains including Florida corn and local barley, mature them in charred oak with toasted orange chips, and fill each artistic glass bottle by hand. “Thirteen distillers make 95 percent of all the whiskey in the U.S.,” Dick says. “We’re not one of them.” As close to a smooth Scottish Lowland single malt as anything I’ve tasted, Reserve has a slightly caramel and vanilla taste and multi-layered aroma. Palm Ridge also makes an impressive rye, and an unaged Virgin whiskey that lends itself to mixed drinks. palmridgereserve.com

 

Houston, Texas

Yellow Rose Blended Whiskey 80 proof, $35

Houston’s first and only legal whiskey distillery launched in 2012, making this fine high bourbon blend presented in a hip flask-style bottle. It has a wonderful, slightly floral aroma and smooth, creamy taste and mouth feel. This could be considered a dessert whiskey—in a tasting with friends this was the bottle that emptied first. yellowrosedistilling.com

Categories: Food & Drink