Georgia was the first and only of the 13 U.S. colonies to ban alcohol prior to America’s Prohibition experiment. Even today, the state’s regulatory environment makes producing, selling, and buying alcohol harder than in most of the country. Before last week, brewers and distilleries couldn’t sell their product directly to consumers. A distributor was required to act as middleman.
In spite of Georgia’s temperance-tied history and challenging regulatory environment, more than a dozen accomplished distilleries operate in the Peach State. The next time you head to the liquor store, consider buying from one of these Georgia distilleries to support the local economy.
13th Colony Distilleries prides itself on producing quality, affordable, small-batch spirits with unique finishes. The Americus operation produces gin, vodka, and three types of whiskey—bourbon, corn, and rye. 13th Colony’s Southern Gin and Plantation Vodka have each won gold medals at international competitions. Dozens of Atlanta liquor stores sell 13th Colony spirits.
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Although it was founded just last year, American Spirit Whiskey is only the second legally licensed distillery in Atlanta since the end of Prohibition. The distillery’s namesake whiskey is currently distilled in Charleston, but ASW distills its Resurgens Rye Single Malt Whiskey, Armor & Oak Georgia Orchard Apple Brandy, and White Dog Rye Malt Spirit in Atlanta. ASW offers eight different tour-and-tasting packages, and leads distillery tours on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. This Saturday, September 9th, ASW Distillery is celebrating its one-year anniversary and the relaxed Georgia distillery laws in effect as of September 1 with a public party. Reserve your space online. ASW distillery is just 15 minutes’ drive from AMLI Parkside and AMLI Ponce Park.
Raymond’s Reserve Straight Corn Whiskey got Dalton Distillery’s feet off the ground in 2015. This year, Dalton earned the unique distinction of becoming the world’s first and only distributor of sunflower base spirit. TazaRay™, master distiller Raymond Butler’s sunflower whiskey, has generated considerable buzz in the spirits industry. You can buy TazaRay, Raymond’s Reserve Straight Corn Whiskey, or Raymond Reserve Cinnamon Corn Whiskey at several Atlanta liquor stores.
The spirits by Dawsonville distiller Bill Elliott are distilled exclusively from Georgia grain and produce. Distillery tours, offered seven days a week, give you a glimpse into how his Georgia Apple Brandy, Georgia Corn Whiskey, and White Lightning and Georgia Mountain Apple Pie moonshines are distilled. Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery is a 40-minute drive north of AMLI North Point.
Named for 1930s moonshiner/philanthropist Jack McClure “Mimm,” Grandaddy Mimm’s currently distills and bottles five different spirits. Mimm’s Mule Kickin’ High Octane moonshine and corn whiskey have a good rap, but the distillery is even better known for its sweeter, weaker spirits. Apple Brown Betty, Peach Cobbler, and Wild Cherry Cobbler moonshine (all 40 proof) are available now. A Blueberry Cobbler is also in the works. Grandaddy Mimm’s charming Blaisville distillery, a 90-minute drive from AMLI’s Alpharetta apartments, offers tours and tastings seven days a week.
Gwinnett County’s first distillery since Prohibition is too young to write much about yet. But Hope Springs Distillery bottled its first batches of Top Hat vodka and Jetty absinthe this summer. Keep your eyes peeled for these Hope springs’ spirits and updates from the Lilburn distillery.
One of the best-known Georgia distilleries, IDC currently distills corn whiskey, molasses rum, and bourbon. According to Thirsty South, the Decatur operation is also experimenting with a 100% wheat whiskey. IDC, a 15-minute drive from AMLI Old 4th Ward, offers tours on Saturday from 2pm to 5pm.
For a distillery that opened just three years ago, Lazy Guy has a prolific production record. The Kennesaw distillery, known for its spirits’ catchy names (Side Track Bourbon, Snow Cream Liqueur, Threesome Whiskey) has already distilled nine different spirits. Other, longer-aged whiskeys are currently being distilled. Lazy Guy offers free distillery tours at 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm on Saturdays. The Lazy Guy Distillery and Spirit Lab, open for cocktails until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, is half-hour drive from Alpharetta and Atlanta.
While undergoing transformative revitalization a few years ago, the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood became home to Atlanta’s first distillery. Old Fourth Distillery distills vodka, gin, and a liqueur it calls Lawn Dart Ginger Lemon. It’s also currently aging bourbon in its Atlanta production facility, a mile from AMLI’s Intown lofts.
In 1999, Erin and Karin Vonk made the first steps toward their goal of distilling some of the world’s finest single-estate rum agricole. They spent the next decade expanding their sugar-cane crop and fine-tuning their sugar cane processing method. The duo overcame agricultural obstacles aplenty and persisted in the face of tough distilling regulations. In 2011, they finally cooked up their first 300 cases of rum. With the help of skilled distiller Jay McCain, the Vonks are well on their way to achieving their goal. Some rum drinkers would argue they already have. Richland Distilling Company sells America’s only single-estate rum, which means no outside ingredients are used at any point in the fermentation, distillation, or barrel-aging processes. The Vonks are in the process of opening a second distillery in Brunswick, GA.
Stillhouse Creek Craft Distillery
This Dahlonega distillery hit the ground running after acquiring its licenses in 2016. Located on the southern edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest, Stillhouse Creek is all about its whiskey. It is currently distilling small batches of straight bourbon that should be aged to perfection by the end of the year. Stillhouse Creek also has two corn-and-wheat mash whiskeys it’s calling White Gold and Gold Dust. The distillery’s other planned product is a juniper- and lavender-infused Oro gin.