There was a time when spirits were distilled by family-run companies. Small batches of rye, bourbon, or rum were made and distributed.
In time, large corporations started buying out these small companies until it seemed like most every item in your local liquor store could be traced back to a few large names.
Bacardi's portfolio includes over 200 brands including Dewar's, Grey Goose, and Bombay Sapphire. Jim Beam's portfolio includes Skinnygirl, Basil Hayden, and Knob Creek.
Why does a smaller company allow themselves to be taken into the corporate fold? By essence of its very product, many spirits have to be aged, which means years of shelling out money before you can even try to sell any product. Then there's the large marketing and advertising budget that's required to launch a new spirit and get the word out that this amazing new libation even exists.
Despite all of this, individuals and small companies are once again turning out small batches of spirits. These spirits tend to have some new twists to them. Ever try a dark gin? Or scorpion mezcal? We did at Tales of the Cocktail. Here are some indie spirits to look out for.
In the 1830s August Bulleit made rye and bourbon at his small distillery in Kentucky. Then, while delivering some spirits to New Orleans, he disappeared and the distillery closed. Over 100 years later, his great-great grandson revived the business. It now makes small batch ryes and bourbons in much the same way it was made in the 1830s. Made from 95% rye and 5% malted barley, it's smooth on its own, and mixes equally well.