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May 23, 2014 09:27 AM

What Craft Spirits Have Disappointed You?

The Atlantic is worried that the huge boom in craft distilling is causing quality to suffer. What craft spirits have you tried and been disappointed by?

I bought a bottle of Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whisky from Texas, and while it certainly does not taste bad, it's not quite what I'm looking for most nights, so I'd imagine this quote will continue to be true for me...

"But if the quality doesn’t measure up to the price, it’s not hard to imagine a nation of home bars each containing a single, largely untouched bottle of disappointing 'craft spirit.'"


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  1. My wife bought a bottle of bourbon Eastside Distilling in Portland, Oregon. It was decent bourbon but it wasn't worth the price tag. She would have rather had a nice bottle of Knob Creek for $20 less.

    1. Roundstone Rye from Catoctin Creek Distillery (although, their Gin is pretty good). Went to their grand opening and had a tasting. I thought I liked the Rye, so I bought a bottle. However, the next day, I was pretty disappointed...ended up giving it away to my neighbor.

      B&E was also unimpressive to me.

      1. I have had better luck with craft gin and rum than aged whiskey. Established whiskey houses have a better clue of what their product will be like 4+ years in the barrel later than first timers... Gin and white rum are often more immediate and craft distillers can tinker quickly with no lag time to get a good product out the door.

        1 Reply
        1. re: yarm

          I agree. There are some wonderful craft gins, even great vodkas and good rums, but the whiskies are lacking a bit. The ones that are good are the result of blending, not based fully on craft, aged, stock.

        2. Although I have long enjoyed their eaux-de-vie and many other spirits, I have *never* liked the single malt whiskey produced by St. George Spirits in Alameda, California ( in any of its forms, nor their agave distillate (now discontinued, I think).

          While New Distillery in Portland, Oregon ( makes some excellent gin and vodka, I find their Hot Monkey Pepper Vodka to be so harsh and raw as to be more suitable -- to my palate -- for the kitchen sink than a shot glass or cocktail shaker.

          1 Reply
          1. re: zin1953

            Huh, good to know. I've always intended to try out the St. George single malt as I really enjoy their gins. Maybe I'll try at a restaurant now first...

          2. I'm currently living in South Carolina, and while there are some good local products (such as some of High Wire's offerings), the bulk of the local or semi-local craft spirits that I see on the shelf at my go-to liquor store are "moonshines" and vodkas, many of them flavored. I haven't tried many because even one of the proprietors of the store selling them admits that they are almost without exception quite forgettable or even outright bad. It may be early days yet for these distilleries, but they seem to have taken a very different approach than the Brooklyn/Portland/etc. folks who seem largely to focus on gin and small-barrel whiskey at the beginning.

            2 Replies
            1. re: tristis

              Sounds like the problem is that the store buyers are buying poor spirits and not getting in the good craft spirits.

              1. re: tristis

                I rather like Dark Corner's absinthe out of Greenville. It may be that I don't have a particularly developed palate for the green fairy, but I'm a fan of theirs. I do second the notion though. Firefly is obnoxiously sweet.