14 Georgia Distilleries Worth the Drive

Georgia distilleries are worth the drive

Photo courtesy of ASW

Thanks to recent legislation, craft distillers in Georgia can now sell cocktails and bottles at their own locations. New tasting rooms are attractive places to try a new spirit and take a bottle home.

While Georgia is historically known for corn whiskey and moonshine — which is what farmers would make with their leftover crops — we’ve come a long way. Makers are making it legal, for one thing, and they’re doing it with panache. Some are embracing their corn whiskey heritage and making better, more modern versions, says Jim Chasteen, co-founder of ASW Distillery and vice president of the Georgia Distillers Association. “It’s the tradition of grandpa’s grandfather,” he says. But rye, bourbon, rum and liqueurs are now also part of Georgia’s world of craft spirits.

Visiting a distillery gives you the chance to taste something more unique than big, mass-produced brands. “The little boys are playing with new grains,” says Chasteen. “We do crazy finishes.” So pick a spirit that interests you and hit the road — take a tour, taste, and bring home a bottle.

whiskey

Starts at ASW‘s premier location in Armor Yards is a must (although they also have a tasting room in the West End and a gin/vodka distillery in the Battery). Here you can sample their award-winning whiskeys like Resurgens Rye, made from rye malt, and Fiddler Soloist Straight Bourbon, the first straight bourbon made in Atlanta, with notes of cinnamon toast crunch and cola.

up in cumming, Legends Distillery features a 5,000-square-foot tasting room as well as an outdoor patio. Their bourbon choices include Legends 87, with notes of vanilla and caramel, and Legends 115 Wheated Bourbon, stronger with notes of toffee and maple syrup.

Independent distillery in Decatur, it harks back to the tradition of corn whiskey with its Hellbender, made from grain sourced from a farm in Ranger. Or try their Corn a Rita cocktail, a concoction of corn whiskey, lime, grapefruit, smoked paprika, simple syrup and salt.

vodka

When distillers first open a business, they usually start with vodka as it doesn’t need to age like whiskeys do. And while you might think of vodka as a clear spirit with a twist, your perception might change when you taste one from an artisanal distillery that puts vodka’s own flavor into it. at Old Fourth DistilleryVodka, for example, is made from sustainable, non-GMO sugar cane, which gives the spirit a hint of caramel. The distillery is visible from the tasting room, making it easy to watch the action.

On a road trip south from Atlanta, stop by Americus, where Thirteenth Colony Distillery is located. They make a corn-based vodka and offer tours.

At Sugar Hill, not far from Buford, Sugar Hill Stills produces both spirits and German beer. However, the standout might be the potato-based vodka, which has a tastier flavor profile than its grain-based cousins.

gin

The modern art distillery in Chamblee

Photo by Sara Hanna

That Modern art distillery opened its doors in Chamblee in June. They have vodka and corn whiskey, but the standout is Nouveau Gin, which is made from locally grown botanicals. The 15,000-square-foot space features local art that is available for purchase. at ASW places you can sip Winterville Gin. Paying homage to Chasteen’s hometown just outside of Winterville (not far from Athens), the spirit contains marigold, the city’s official flower. Savannah’s Ghost Coast Distillery makes a variety of spirits, including a refreshing Burl Gin (a nod to singer Burl Ives) with notes of citrus and lavender. However, they closed their tasting room in September.

moonlight

Distillers pay homage to their junk roots with modern moonshine. at Dawsonville Distillery, which is in the same building as City Hall, you will find their Georgia Corn Whiskey. For a unique twist of mind go to Still Pond Distillers in South Georgia, where moonshine is made from muscadine and grain. While there you can visit the vineyards and enjoy their porch.

rum

The United States has only one producer of rum, and that is Richland Distilling Company. They grow sugar cane in the sandy fields of Southwest Georgia before turning it into a caramel-tinged rum. They have a tasting room and distillery in Brunswick and also in Richland.

Various spirits

The tasting room of Hope Springs Distillery downtown Lilburn doesn’t have many frills, but it does have the state’s first (and only) absinthe. Head in that direction to tour the distillery and sample their illusion absinthe, made with wormwood, green anise and fennel, among other ingredients (and take a bottle home – it’s a fun addition to the bar cart). Lazy Guy Distillery Kennesaw is best known for its bourbon and rye whiskey, but for those looking for a decadent icing, there’s Snow Cream Liqueur, a sweet blend of corn whiskey and cream. In the spacious Moonrise Distillery At Clayton, the range includes a brandy made with local fruit and honey.

This article will appear in our November 2022 issue.

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