The Big Apple might not be every whiskey enthusiast’s dream destination, but there are several distilleries making their mark on the national whiskey scene. You don’t need to be in Kentucky to make stellar bourbon, after all. From the younger craft distilleries in Brooklyn to the heritage distilleries in Upstate New York, The Empire State is brimming over with excellent whiskey.
The Best New York Whiskeys
Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye
The New York Distilling Company in Brooklyn, NY
The rock and rye style of whiskey has largely fallen out of favor among modern distillers. This pre-Prohibition concoction was popular at old-school Americana saloons where bartenders would pour a shot of whiskey and add rock candy. The final result was a slightly sweet drink that could do in a pinch when there weren’t the right ingredients for an Old Fashioned. New York Distilling Company has tried its hand at this novelty with a blend of its rye whiskey and rock candy sugar with “sour cherries, cinnamon, and a wisp of citrus.” It’s a truly unique whiskey you can sip on the rocks or work into a cocktail.
Oak & Applewood Aged Rye Mash Whiskey
Widow Jane Distillery in Brooklyn, NY
Widow Jane is a relatively new distillery in New York and is still working on putting out its own whiskeys distilled on-site, but it has already put together some of the state’s best bourbon through sourcing, blending, and then proofing their blends using limestone water from the Widow Jane mine Upstate. Take, for example, the Oak & Applewood Aged Rye Mash Whiskey. The result offers a full, round flavor with a touch of sweetness and bright apple notes. At 45.5 percent ABV, it’s strong enough to hold its own on the rocks or can be used in your favorite cocktail.
McKenzie Rye Whiskey
Finger Lakes Distilling in Burdett, NY
Looking for an excellent New York rye whiskey? Try McKenzie Rye from Finger Lakes Distilling. Made from local New York state rye grain, this whiskey is aged in new charred oak casks and finished in sherry barrels from local wineries. It offers some hefty spice characteristics and plenty of lovely warmth. Sip this one neat on a crisp fall night.
Van Brunt Stillhouse in Brooklyn, NY
Campfire Whiskey from Van Brunt Stillhouse was made for sipping around a bonfire. It’s a blend of the distillery’s smoked corn whiskey and rye whiskey. The result is a flavor profile that leans a touch sweet with some pleasant wood and spice notes. Be sure to share this one with friends and pair it with some ghost stories.
The Best New York Bourbons
Barrel Strength Bourbon
Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, NY
Kings County Distillery is among my favorite New York whiskey makers. It’s hard to go wrong with any of their offerings, but the brand’s hefty Barrel Strength Bourbon packs a wallop and tastes fantastic. Bottled between 115 and 124 proof, this bourbon is a seriously impressive, award-winning New York whiskey. According to Kings County Distillery, you should expect “brandied cherry, viscous maple, mahogany, brown sugar, and toasted malt” notes.
Hudson Whiskey Bright Lights, Big Bourbon
Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery in Gardiner, NY
Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery has made a name for itself with the Hudson Whiskey brand. Considering its eye-catching branding and chunky font, it’s no surprise that this whiskey stands out on liquor store shelves. Start with thr Bright Lights, Big Bourbon. Bold and burly, this bourbon is made from New York corn and aged in new charred American oak barrels. You’ll find a smooth drinking experience with ample notes of vanilla, char, and toasted caramel.
Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Black Button Distilling in Rochester, NY
Black Button Distilling has dubbed its Four Grain Straight Bourbon a “Rochester Style Bourbon,” and boasts that no other distillery can make the same bourbon. And who are we to disagree? Made from all local malts, Four Grain Straight Bourbon has a composition of 60 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, 11 percent malted barley, and 9 percent rye. The resulting bourbon, bottled at 84 proof, offers a complex drinking experience. Earthy, sweet vanilla, subtle spice, and oak combine for a smooth sip every time. Try this one in your favorite bourbon cocktail or just enjoy on its own.
Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey
Hillrock Estate Distillery in Ancram, NY
This particular whiskey may be the hardest, and certainly most expensive, New York whiskey to acquire. And for good reason. Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey is a stunning New York whiskey produced by the beloved Hillrock Estate Distillery. Dubbed a “field-to-glass” whiskey producer, Hillrock sources all of its grain from its own estate. So, every product can genuinely claim to possess some serious terroir. While you should really sample anything that Hillrock has to offer, the award-winning Solera Aged Bourbon Whiskey is on another level. Full-bodied and wildly complex, this New York whiskey has notes of caramel, dried fruit, vanilla, oak, spice, and floral notes on the nose. With a sip, you’ll experience a wide variety of characteristics: spice, stonefruit, molasses, candied fruit, butterscotch, and more. It’s truly a delight of a bourbon.