Peach State tasting rooms aren't just for craft breweries and North Georgia wineries anymore.
Georgia distilleries are making their mark with signature bourbons and visitors 21 and up are welcome to sip and savor and maybe bring a bottle home. If the science of bourbon distillery is a fascinating subject for you, many of the distilleries (and their distinguished artisans) are more than willing to share stories and escort guests on a tour of the process.
Each of the state's distilleries has its own style and produces distinct spirits, some already nationally known, some with a "garage" air about them.
Here are six bourbon distilleries to seek out for sipping in Georgia, plus some that are set to open soon:
ASW Distillery. Describing its methods as "pioneering Scottish plus Appalachian distillation," Atlanta's own ASW Distillery ages in-house batch by batch. Its aging options might include quarter casks, Georgia heartwood staves or casks of other whiskies distilled and matured in-house. ASW's first and best known product is a white whiskey, American Spirit Whiskey, so light and clean it's considered on par with a vodka. The distillery is now just as well known for "Adult Field Trips" in many forms, all including "guided tastings" of whiskeys or half-cocktails and some including take-home bottles of select bourbons.
The ASW Whiskey Exchange and Barrelhouse is set to open April 13, with a warehouse and tasting room that houses more than 500 barrels.
Tours of the distillery are offered on Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
ASW Distillery, 199 Armour Drive, Atlanta and ASW Whiskey Exchange, 933 Lee St., Atlanta. 404-590-2279, aswdistillery.com
Independent Distilling Company. A"no-frills garage distillery," Independent dates to 2014 and produces fine Hellbender spirits. In 2015, it released the first batch of bourbon produced inside the Atlanta perimeter since Prohibition. It continues to focus on local ingredients (like Riverview Farms corn) and distills other signature spirits from its 100-gallon copper pot including heritage Southern corn whiskey, bourbon and rum. Hellbender can be found at a range of metro Atlanta retailers, and IDC offers cocktail recipes on its website to maximize enjoyment of its products. Tours offered on Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons and evenings.
731 E College Ave. Ste D, Decatur. 678-576-3804, independentdistilling.com
Lazy Guy Distillery. A proud first-generation distillery in the center of downtown Kennesaw, Lazy Guy takes advantage of its locale by using regionally-grown grains for its whiskey and even "white lightning." For those looking to party or for a date night, LGD offers a full bar and 25 or so cocktails for purchase, each made with its hand-crafted spirits. For dabblers and experimental sorts, it also offers micro-samples, seasonal and weekly special cocktails in a Spirit Lab that's open 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Fridays and noon-8 p.m. Saturdays. Tours offered on Saturday afternoons.
2950 Moon Station Road NW, Kennesaw. 770-485-0081, lazyguydistillery.com
Moonrise Distillery. In the foothills of the Southern Appalachian mountains, Moonrise celebrates its locale by using ingredients from local farmers and sources. It James Henry Premium Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey mashes local corn, barley, rye and wheat and is aged in 30-gallon new American white oak barrels. MD also features fruit brandies and rye or corn whiskeys that hark back to the area's history as a moonshining locale.
Tours offered Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday by appointment.
1 Webb Road, Clayton. 800-240-9733, moonrisedistillery.com
Savannah Bourbon Company. You can’t take a tour, but you can try the bourbon made at this spot at various bars and shops. Two distinct bourbons issue from this distillery: the Savannah 88 and Sweet Tea Lemonade. Both start with all-natural, regional ingredients including coastal rye, winter wheat and Silver Queen corn, and each has the smooth finish that comes from being aged new oak barrels. What makes the Sweet Tea Bourbon different is its finishing step, which includes infusion with all-natural tea and citrus. Search for pubs and stores that sell the unique bourbon here.
Thirteenth Colony Distillery. Atlanta metro connoisseurs will enjoy the spirits made by Georgia kin at Thirteenth Colony Distillery and distributed at retailers throughout the region, including award-winning gin and vodka. They handcraft small batch bourbon from traditional mash and age it in charred American oak barrels for four years. Its water comes from the South's largest and oldest aquifer, filtered naturally through ancient limestone and dolomite.
305 N. Dudley Street, Americus. 229-924-3310, thirteenthcolony.com
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.