Entrepreneur and independent spirits owner Dave Schmier epitomizes the saying “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Dave owns Redemption Rye and Orange V Vodka and also organizes the Indy Spirits Expo, an annual spirits tasting in New York, San Francisco and Chicago providing a venue for other independent and artisanal spirits producers from around the country and world to meet with consumers, industry and media. With the increasing number of new brands on the market and with some of the larger players starting to make some strategic acquisitions, each year the Expo gets larger and more interesting. Below are five picks from this year’s Expo that we’re starting to see on the shelves and cocktail menus:
David Jones and Clyde Davis Jr. source their rums in St. Lucia where their flagship label is a blend of six different rums. They have recently introduced a spiced as well as a silver rum produced through a color extraction process resulting in a more robust silver rum than the norm.
Former economic development exec Brian Ellison heads up this microdistillery in Madison, Wisconsin that produces a vodka, gin and white whiskey using locally produced organic barley and red winter wheat. Death’s Door is a great story of entrepreneurship, economic development and sustainable agriculture as all of the wheat used in the spirits as well as the juniper berries for their gin is grown on Washington Island, Wisconsin.
Those familiar with the green fairy know the name Delaware Phoenix, the small distillery in upstate New York where proprietor Cheryl Lins has been producing delicious, small batch absinthes for the past few years. Once producing batches on a tiny copper still, Delaware Phoenix now has a (slightly) larger 45 gallon pot still where Cheryl continues to produce her artisanal absinthes as well as some new whiskies. We enjoyed her recently launched Rye Dog at the Expo.
A bit further upstate from Cheryl, Thomas McKenzie is distilling everything from bourbon to grappa with his partner Brian McKenzie (they are unrelated) using local grains and fruits. They make a unique rye finished in local sherry barrels and a bourbon finished in Chardonnay casks.
Located just an hour outside of New York City, Warwick has been making hard cider since 1994, and is the state’s first fruit microdistillery, producing brandies and liqueurs under their American Fruits label since 2002. Under the guidance of Master Distiller Jason Grizzanti, Warwick also works with local entrepreneurs such as Joe Santos of Brooklyn Distilling who has found a home at Warwick producing his recently-launched Brooklyn Gin.
Check out the full list of Indies at Indy Spirits Expo and give ‘em a shot next time you see their bottle on the shelf.