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11 American Distillery Tours You Don't Want to Miss

By: Joe Sills
December 10, 2019

Find new flavors by visiting these incredible distilleries from sea to shining sea.

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Photo: Fred Minnick

What Makes a Great American Distillery?

Rugged, reliable and rebellious. American spirits carry a brash quality that is as fiercely independent as their country of origin. In the US, timeless classics like Kentucky bourbons and Tennessee whiskeys that began in the frontier era are slowly making room for newcomers with their own defiant twists on brandy, rum and vodka. This list of spirit makers merges the best of those two worlds — with bonus points for epic backdrops and unique tour features.

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Kō Hana Rum, Hawaii

The rum makers at Hawaii's Kō Hana Rum treat sugar cane the way wine makers treat grapes. Their pure sugar cane rum made with native Hawaiian plants stands in stark contrast to most global rums that are made with molasses. Kō Hana's tasting tour begins with a glass of fresh cane juice and wanders through plots of sugar cane before ascending a platform with views of the Waianae Mountains and Pearl Harbor. The distillery is open seven days a week.

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Photo: Ed Rode

Jack Daniel's, Tennessee

America's most famous distillery remains a can't-miss for whiskey fanatics. Each year, around 280,000 people make the trek to Lynchburg, Tennessee to visit the iconic barrelhouse at Jack Daniel's. Rest assured that, with that kind of traffic, the team members at Tennessee's most famous distillery have become masters at the art of the tour. Jack Daniel's offers four tours ranging from a brief history lesson to an exclusive tasting of spirits drawn from individual barrels.

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Photo: John Lair

Maker's Mark, Kentucky

Settle in for a short tour of the Bluegrass State. Four hours north of Lynchburg, one of America's best-known bourbon brands serves up a gamut of tours in the tiny town of Loretto, Kentucky. At Maker's Mark, distillers are still refining a 170-year old recipe that changed forever when the company's founder swapped hot rye grains for a soft, sweet winter wheat. Distillery tours at Maker's Mark range from a general overview to in-depth cocktail crafting courses. And yes, you can dip the bottles.

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