With craft distilleries popping up across Florida, you no longer have to look outside of the state for quality whiskey.
Ah, Florida. The Sunshine State evokes thoughts of powdery white sand beaches that stretch for miles, amusement parks where memories are created and a lot of wild animals. No, seriously, why does Florida seem like one big unfenced zoo? Anyway, one thing you probably don’t think of when you think of the state is whiskey.
Whether served in a punchy Old Fashioned or mixed into some other intricate cocktail, it’s no secret that whiskey’s popularity has skyrocketed over the past few years. And experts see no signs of it slowing down — at least not in the near future. While Tennessee and Kentucky produce the lion's share of the liquid gold, Florida has a few homegrown craft-distilleries that would tickle the taste buds of even the most esteemed whiskey enthusiast.
Thankfully, we are lucky enough to live in a place where there is likely a distillery nearby. Pop into one of these locations and learn how whiskey is made, sample a few expressions and leave with a little boozy pep in your step.Timber Creek Distillery
Timber Creek Distillery, located just outside of Pensacola in Crestview, is turning out respectable whiskey in the Panhandle. Their Southern Reserve Florida Whiskey is distilled from 90 percent Florida grain mash and also only uses Florida limestone-rich water, which acts as a natural filter for unwanted minerals. This four-part grain formula features corn, wheat, rye and barley, which gives the whiskey an unmistakable buttery flavor. Bottled at 100-proof, this spirit will stand out in any cocktail.View this post on Instagram St. Augustine Distillery
St. Augustine Distillery may be new to the spirit-making game, but its Port Finished Bourbon sure doesn’t taste like it. This elegant expression is made by a second aging process that is finished up in port barrels. The flavors are explosive with notes of cinnamon, cloves and jammy raisins. We’d all be lucky to have a bottle of this stuff to add to a home bar.
Related: St. Augustine Distillery gets nod for North America’s top distillery tourView this post on Instagram Kozuba & Sons
This family-owned business has deep roots in their home country of Poland. Their entrance to the distillation game came when patriarch Zbigniew “Papa” Kozuba began making cordials and later vodka in the Polish village of Jablonka in 2005. The family was able to turn their humble hobby into the first microdistillery in Poland. With a decade of production under their belt, they set their sights on St. Petersburg, Fla. as the location to help expand their operation. Since 2015, their product line has grown to include three different whiskeys: a high wheat rye, a straight bourbon and a light whiskey.View this post on Instagram Winter Park Distilling Company
Started in 2010 by two friends, Winter Park Distilling Company is the first craft distillery in Orange County. They offer an impressive collection of spirits including vodka and rum, but it’s their whiskey we’re after. Bear Gully Classic Reserve Bourbon is a single-barrel expression made in the heart of Central Florida. They also offer a Bear Gully Classic Bonfire Bourbon that is aged in charred oak barrels. The blended bourbon takes on a campfire-kissed flavor. For the lover of old school styled white dog, Winter Park also has a “new make” whiskey, which is essentially a high-proof unaged bourbon. It will definitely put some hair on your chest.Florida Cane Distillery
This Tampa-based distillery has been turning out quality spirits since 2012. Run by two hockey buddies, this local business has one of the most unique experiences around. The company has an onsite distillery school where visitors can make their own unaged whiskey and then take it home to place into small portable barrels — talk about homemade. If you’re just in the mood to sample what the distillery produces, they offer three different whiskeys.View this post on Instagram St Petersburg Distillery
Looking for a distinctive small-batch Florida whiskey? St. Petersburg Distillery might have exactly what you need. Founded in 2014, this craft distillery has its sights on taking over the spirits market with its diverse portfolio. Its Old St. Pete Sweet Corn Whiskey is distilled in copper stills using fresh grains from Florida. The corn adds a floral almost fruity note while the time spent in oak barrels helps round out the flavors with a hint of vanilla bean.View this post on Instagram American Freedom Distillery
American Freedom Distillery is truly in a league of its own. Founded by former Special Forces veterans, their Horse Soldier whiskey, named after the first Green Berets to be deployed to Afghanistan following 9/11, is a testament to the bonds of brotherhood. Their stately glass bottles hold four very different flavor profiles — Horse Soldier Small Batch Bourbon, Signature Barrel Strength, Commander’s Select and Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The company is based out of Tampa, but shipping is available if you can’t make it there in person.
Interesting fact: The molds used to create their whiskey bottles were salvaged from steel found at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center.