Amid all the buzz surrounding wine and beer, whiskey is enjoying a moment of its own.
Sales for the dark liquor continue to rise, as do the number of craft distilleries popping up across the country. According to Lew Bryson, managing editor at Whisky Advocate and author of Tasting Whiskey, there were only a handful of craft distilleries 10 years ago. Now, however, "just in the last three [or] four years the numbers just exploded. We're up to over 600 now."
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At the most recent WhiskyFest in New York City, a festival that features more than 350 whiskies, CNBC asked Bryson which five craft whiskeys are a must try. Here's what he told CNBC in a recent interview.
By CNBC's Kevin Kane.
Bryson's first pick is comes from a Seattle distillery. "I would definitely try Westland. Westland is doing a really nice single malt."
A bottle of this 80 proof, single malt whiskey, which the company bills as more of a dessert than a liquor, costs around $70. Westland claims its whiskey has notes of "chocolate, nuts, cookies, pastries, mocha, caramel and raisins."
Catskill Provisions mixes its late summer honey with Finger Lakes Distillery's handcrafted rye to create an 80 proof, flavored whiskey. Availability is limited and will set you back around $47 a bottle. "Finger Lakes is doing a honey liquor with Catskill honey. Just really good stuff," Bryson said.
Bryson unabashedly raved about the taste of the sweet spirit. "I know I just ruined my whole cred, you know, talking about a flavored whiskey. But the stuff is good!"
Made about two hours outside of New York City, Tuthilltown Spirits turned an old gristmill into a distillery, creating one of the most popular craft whiskey labels on the market. So popular, in fact, that it was recently acquired by William Grant & Sons, makers of Glenfiddich, Sailor Jerry and Stolichnaya.
Bryson recommends that potential imbibers "get the four grain if they have it. That's a good one."
For $45 you get a 92 proof mixture of corn, rye, wheat and malted barley in a hand-numbered bottle.
Bryson's fourth pick is from Washington state: Dry Fly Distilling's mix of wheat and rye by called Triticale. "They finish the stuff in a port barrel; very nice stuff," he said.
This award winning 88 proof whiskey will set you back around $35 for a 375ml bottle.
Bryson's last pick is a unique mix from Park City, Utah's High West Distillery. "What they've been doing is going to established distilleries and finding stock that these guys maybe weren't doing something with, and putting it together in really interesting ways," the connoisseur noted.
"They have one whiskey called Campfire. It's actually a blend of bourbon, a scotch and a rye," Bryson said. "And they put the three of them together. It's a really interesting whiskey. It's pretty cool."
Campfire is 92 proof and costs $54 for this secret whiskey formula.