Philadelphia’s booming distilling scene is ridiculously young (thanks to only recently changed licensing laws), and yet we’ve already got spirits on the shelves that can hold their own against some of the most recognizable global brands. Here are seven worth adding to your liquor cabinet.
You say you don’t like spiced rum because spiced rum is South America’s answer to cotton-candy-flavored vodka? Well, shut up and drink this before you go getting all judge-y. Dark, sweet, deeply flavored with brown sugar and spice, this is an incredible liquor that should be saved for that perfect Dark & Stormy night.
Yes it’s a blend, bottled in order to recapture the style and flavor of some of Philly’s historic whiskies, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the smoothest, richest, easiest-drinking rye we ever tasted.
You can smell the La Colombe coffee that flavors this dark rum the minute you open the bottle, and taste the sweet, dark cane sugar if you’re sipping it straight. But its best use is spiking one of the new draft lattes served at all La Colombe locations around town, so buy a flask and fill it up.
They call their gin “tiny-batch,” and they ain’t lying—this micro-distillery operates out of a space the size of a garage on Frankford Avenue. Best part? The gin is complex, not overly botanical and perfect in a G&T, and easily takes the place of all the big-name gins on our shelf.
Jersey’s Cooper River is so good, they’re on this list twice. Why? Because their super-small-batch whiskies are distilled using local beers—Saint Benjamin’s IPA in the case of the one we tried—making for the most interesting whiskey we’ve tasted all year.
Very woody, not too hot, and with just a bit more sweetness than your average whiskey, the latest run from Pottstown’s Manatawny is an excellent example of experimental small-batch distilling in a scene that’s come of age surprisingly fast.
Their original Bluecoat gin is good. But in a market that’s crowded with good gins, this one, which gets a three-month nap in new American oak barrels (adding a blunt sweetness and buffing some of the raw edges) is a step up.
Originally published in the October, 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine.