The process of fermentation has graced the world with beer and wine, a culinary custom that dates to ancient Egypt and has since diversified into thousands of iterations over the centuries.
Distillation essentially concentrates the alcoholic and flavor components in fermented beverages to transform them into the spirits we know and love today.
While many of the world’s finest spirits originated in the old world, the New World has an impressive repertoire of liquors and alcoholic drinks. Read on to discover the best American liquor from the finest craft distillers around the nation.
- Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
- Southern Comfort
- Jim Beam
- Rye Whiskey
- Fireball Whiskey
- Tito’s Vodka
- Corn Whiskey
Below, you’ll find a list of the best American liquor from historic distilleries along with the newest hand-crafted alcoholic beverages to garner worldwide attention.
Perhaps the most iconic Whiskey producer of all, Jack Daniels is named after founder Jack Daniels who debuted his famous No. 7 charcoal-filtered Tennessee Whiskey in 1864. The Jack Daniel’s Distillery opened two years later under Master Distiller Jack Daniels himself.
No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey is still the top-selling whiskey from the distillery, but Jack Daniel’s now sells numerous types of whiskey, from single-barrel to flavored whiskeys and even canned cocktails.
Jack Daniels whiskey ages in handcrafted oak barrels, instilling a perfect balance of sweet and oaky flavors on the palate. It’s great on the rocks, and even better with cola.
While Whiskey can be an American or European liquor, Bourbon originated in America and is the only true American liquor. Bourbon is a type of whiskey made from corn, which is a New World crop.
Historians trace the origins of bourbon to Kentucky in the late 18th century. Bourbon must be made with at least 51% corn mash and aged for a minimum of 3 years in American charred white oak barrels.
Bourbon can be from a single batch or a blend of various aged bourbons. The longer bourbon ages, the more pronounced its flavor notes become, and the smoother the finish. Bourbon is rich and smokey, inspiring many famed classic cocktails, from the Old Fashioned to Kentucky’s own Mint Julep.
Southern Comfort is a whiskey liqueur invented in the heart of New Orleans French Quarter by bartender Martin Wilkes Heron who blended whiskey with vanilla, a twist of lemon, cinnamon, coles, cherries, oranges, and honey.
Today, the famed New Orleans-born Sazerac distiller partners own Southern Comfort and uphold the original whiskey-based recipe while also adding a few new varieties like the Bourbon-based Southern Comfort Black.
Southern Comfort has pronounced flavor notes of dried apricot, candied fruit, vanilla, and baking spices with a spicy cherry finish.
Jim Beam is a family-owned Kentucky bourbon distillery that’s currently in the 7th generation of master distillers and master blenders from the Beam family.
Jim Beam is synonymous with Kentucky straight bourbon, responsible for more than 65% of all Kentucky bourbon products.
Jim Beam whiskey has used the same strain of yeast with its corn and grain mash since the 1930s, and all bourbon is twice-distilled and aged for a minimum of four years in charred American oak barrels. Jim Beam now offers a line of food that includes bourbon-flavored seeds, beef jerky, and barbecue sauces.
Rye Whiskey is both an American liquor and a popular European and Canadian tradition. It must contain a minimum of 51% rye in its grain mash but is often mixed with other grains including corn, wheat, and barley.
Rye Whiskey gets aged in charred oak barrels for a minimum of 3 years.
Rye has a similar flavor profile to Bourbon, especially from American liquor producers who use a high ratio of corn to rye. It stands out from other whiskeys with a more herbal and spicy flavor profile and a dry finish.
As the name suggests, RumChata is a rum-based liqueur that blends Caribbean rum with the flavors inherent in Horchata, a rice drink popular in Latin America. Rumchata’s ingredients include dairy cream, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon.
It’s a new liqueur from master blender Tom Maas who debuted the drink in 2009. Ever since then, it has grown in popularity and can be found on many restaurant menus.
Fireball Whiskey is a brand of cinnamon-infused whiskey that, to quote Fireball’s motto, “tastes like heaven, and burns like hell.”
Fireball whiskey comes in a 66-proof and 44-proof versions, both of which are known for their ultra-cinnamon flavor palate with a super spicy finish that leaves in the warmth.
Fireball shots are popular, but there are countless cocktails and blended shot recipes to neutralize the spice. Some drinkers like to challenge themselves and see how many shots they can take before the burning becomes too much.
Tito’s Handmade Vodka is the top-selling American liquor distillery in the US today. Originating in Austin, Texas in the mid-90s, Tito’s is a white corn-based vodka that is hand distilled in small batches.
Tito’s is known for its clean, smooth palate that you can easily drink straight- dangerous for those who are new to vodka! Every bar in the US has a bottle of Tito’s to make top-shelf martinis, and many blended drinks will also incorporate this staple.
Corn whiskey is a blanket term for most American whiskeys, from Bourbon to Straight whiskey, and even moonshine. However, where bourbon requires at least 51% corn, corn whiskey mashes require at least 80% corn in the fermented mash.
Furthermore, corn whiskey doesn’t need to be aged, nor does it need to be aged in oak barrels, making this the only type of American whiskey that you can find unaged.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below, we’ve answered a few questions about American liquor you might be curious to know.
What is the most popular liquor in America?
The most popular liquor brand in America as of 2022 is Tito’s Vodka. The most popular liquor overall is whiskey- surprising, given the popularity of beer at sporting events!
Who owns the American Liquor Company?
Owned by master blender Chris Montana, American Liquor Company offers the only vodka made with all four classic vodka ingredients, including white corn, locally grown winter wheat, light rye, and Red River Valley potato.
American liquor offers iconic spirits and liqueurs that have been American traditions since the nation’s founding. They also include newer, novel products from the latest craft distillers and blenders.
The next time you’re craving a cocktail, shot, or sipping spirit, any of the nine most popular American liquors mentioned above are worth a try.
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