The Bourbon Flight is exploring bourbon distilleries throughout the United States. This series will introduce bourbon lovers to both known and unknown distilleries.
This is an informative piece, not a review since we have not sampled the bourbons. We hope to inform readers that distilling bourbon is a nationwide love. Tradition and passion run through each bottle of bourbon, from Elmer T. Lee to the unknown distiller.
We cannot highlight every distillery in a state, but we will certainly try to bring the most helpful information to you. We plan on highlighting two states in each Original Pour.
Keep checking back to see when your state is highlighted. We are going in alphabetical order.
Conecuh Ridge Distillery—Troy, Alabama
In January of 2022, The Bourbon Flight reported that Conecuh Brands had broken ground on its new distillery. The new distillery is expected to open in spring 2023.
The producer of Clyde May Bourbon states the distillery’s motto is: “Everyone has a legacy.” The Clyde May family of bourbon brands includes Alabama Style Whiskey, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Special Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Straight Rye Whiskey, Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey aged ten years and Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey aged 13 years.
Alabama is one of only two states with an official spirit, the other being Virginia. In 2014, Alabama officially announced Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey as its state spirit. Surprisingly, the choice is based on Clyde May’s character rather than his whiskey: Told by his grandson, LC “A man who never sold a legal bottle in his life.”
Dread River Distillery—Birmingham, Alabama
Dread River released its first bourbon in March 2022 at the Grand Prix of Alabama. Dread River Bourbon is the first bourbon distilled in the city in over a hundred years. The distillery is the largest in the state.
Founders Jeff Dugas, a New York transplant who is an orthopedic surgeon, and John Cubelic, a former Auburn Tiger with a passion for storytelling and comradery, wanted to create elegant and approachable spirits. “Bourbon is what we got into this business to create. That has been the goal from day one, and almost since day one, we have been laying down barrels of bourbon, waiting for this day to come. It has been an incredible journey to get here, and we are very proud of everything we have accomplished in creating this product,” said Co-Founder Jeff Dugas
Some of Alabama’s original distillers may have prompted the Legend of the Dread River and ventured into the underground channels below Birmingham to find the clear limestone water used to distill their own spirits, so the story goes.
Keel and Co. Distilling—Headland, Alabama
Keel and Co. began distilling in the 1970s and is a micro-distillery that makes all types of spirits. Their one bourbon is aptly named George Keel Bourbon Whiskey, in honor of their master distiller, and is described as a Southern sipping whiskey. In 2014, Keel obtained a federal distiller’s permit and opened the distillery in downtown Headland in 2018.
With its deep Southern blends depicted as Alabama handmade whiskey, Keel’s single and small-batch whiskies make this distillery stand out.
The distillery hosts live bands and tastings throughout the year, so drink some bourbon and get your dance moves on. New and upcoming projects, worth about $1.5 million, include an expanded tasting room that seats 100 people and a 16,000-square-foot event space that will be used for banquets, weddings and corporate events.
Irons One Distillery—Huntsville, Alabama
“One man. One whiskey. One batch at a time,” explains founder Jeffery Irons.
Irons One is truly a one-of-a-kind operation, with one man overseeing the whole process. His philosophy of making a good whiskey is knowing where to make cuts, when to collect and when to stop. “Because I keep each batch small and tend every one personally, I can ensure the strict distilling of my unique recipe, which results in a whiskey that is superior in smoothness, flavor, and drinkability,” said Irons.
This distillery’s bourbon gives new meaning to small-batch bourbon.
Tours of the distillery are available and private tastings can be scheduled. Amazingly, Irons One Distillery received a double gold medal by “The Fifty Best” for its bourbon whiskey, making it just one of six bourbons in the country to receive the highest recognition possible.
Port Chilkoot Distillery—Haines, Alaska
Port Chilkoot is the only distillery in Alaska that produces bourbon.
The distillery’s motto is “Made with the aim of creating something local, delicious and true. Uncork a bottle and taste integrity. Taste passion. Taste Alaska.”
The distillery produces a wide variety of spirits, but we are focusing on its Boatwright Bourbon. The website describes the bourbon as “Made by hand in southeast Alaska. With a touch of Kentucky. Crafted with the same attention to detail that a boat maker brings to his trade, Boatwright Bourbon is a blend of two Straight Bourbon Whiskeys: Our own recipe made completely from grain to barrel in our small craft distillery in southeast Alaska and a finely made Straight Bourbon Whiskey from our friends in Kentucky. The character is unique and local. It’s like a postcard from Alaska.”
Owned by Heather Shade, a former National Park biologist and founding president of the Distillers Guild of Alaska, and Sean Copeland, a carpenter and self-described outdoorsman. David Thomas is the distiller and production manager. The workspace and tasting room lie in the former bakery of the historic Fort Seward army outpost, complete with stainless-steel fermentation tanks and a made-in-Louisville copper still. With Alaska’s long cold nights, bourbon may be the only saving grace. Keep warm and carry on.
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