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Beyond Kentucky and Tennessee: Exploring Craft Whiskey Distilleries and Trails Across America with Whiskey Clubs

For a long time, the only states in the US associated with whiskey distilling were Kentucky and Tennessee. However, the handmade whiskey movement has flourished in recent years, and there are now dozens of whiskey trails to follow around the country. If you're a whiskey connoisseur in need of a new experience, you might want to check into joining a whiskey club and seeing one of the many artisan distilleries that are currently springing up across the country.

Craft distilleries are fantastic since they all use their own individual methods to create whiskey. This allows you to sample a wide variety of whiskeys and gain insight into the processes involved in their production. To further educate visitors about their goods and the whiskey-making process, several distilleries also host tours, tastings, and other events.

Colorado, which in recent years has become a mecca for craft distilleries, is a great site to kick off your whiskey journey. The state presently has more than a hundred distilleries, many of which produce only whiskey. Stranahan's, Laws Whiskey House, and Leopold Bros. are three of the best known. There is a wide variety of whiskeys available from these distilleries because of the various methods used to age and blend the spirits.

One popular brand, Stranahan's, uses new American oak barrels to mature their single malt whiskey for at least two years before it is released to the public. Denver is home to a distillery that welcomes visitors for daily tours and tastings and hosts a whiskey club for serious drinkers. Membership in Stranahan's whiskey club grants members early access to new releases, exclusive pricing, and early access to limited-edition whiskeys.

On the other hand, the Denver bar Laws Whiskey House is recognized for its four-grain bourbon that has been aged for three years in new American oak barrels and is located in the city's historic Gates area. There are excursions, tastings, and even a whiskey club for visitors and fans of the spirit. Members of the Laws Whiskey Club receive discounts on all purchases and early access to limited edition whiskeys on a quarterly basis.

Located in Denver's RiNo industrial district, Leopold Bros. is renowned for its classic pot still-distilled whiskeys prepared in small batches by hand. There are excursions, tastings, and even a whiskey club for visitors and fans of the spirit. Members of the Leopold Bros. Whiskey Club receive limited-edition whiskeys on a quarterly basis, have first dibs on brand-new releases, and receive steep savings year-round.

As you head east, states like Texas, Oregon, and Michigan provide a wealth of opportunities to visit craft distilleries. The single malt whiskey produced by Texas's Balcones Distilling Company, for instance, is so highly regarded because it is matured for at least two years in American oak barrels, earning it numerous awards. There are excursions, tastings, and even a whiskey club for visitors and fans of the spirit. The Balcones Whiskey Club provides its members with early access to new releases, savings on existing purchases, and access to limited-edition whiskeys.

The American single malt whiskey produced by the Westward Whiskey Distillery in Oregon is matured for at least two years in new American oak barrels. The Portland distillery hosts tours and tastings every day and even has its own whiskey fan club. You may get discounts on everything you buy and be the first to try new whiskeys when you join the Westward Whiskey Club.

The four-grain bourbon produced by Michigan's Journeyman Distillery is famous for being matured for at least three years in new American oak barrels. Tours, tastings, and a whiskey club are all available at this Three Oaks distillery. Quarterly shipments of rare whiskeys, advanced access to new releases, and deep discounts are all part of becoming a member of the Journeyman Whiskey Club.

Despite their dispersed locations, many of these distilleries have banded together to form whiskey trails and other partnerships. The American Craft Spirits Association is one such organization that speaks for more than 2,000 small distilleries across the country. The Craft Spirits Conference & Expo is held annually, and the organization also conducts a number of other events and conferences throughout the year.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States also developed the Whiskey Trail, another group. Trail stops span 14 states, from whiskey hotspots like Kentucky and Tennessee to out-of-the-way places like Colorado, Texas, Oregon, and Michigan. Visitors can get prizes for visiting distilleries along the Whiskey Trail by participating in a passport program.

You may learn about the latest releases from your favorite distilleries and taste some fascinating whiskeys from all across the country by joining a whiskey club. There are a lot of clubs out there that provide members discounts on everything they buy as well as early access to limited-edition whiskeys and new releases. In addition, some organizations arrange tastings and other social gatherings where members may share their passion for whiskey and learn more about the industry as a whole.

Do your homework before signing up for a whiskey club so you know what you're getting into. There may be minimums on purchases or time commitments required to join some clubs. But for true whiskey aficionados, the payoff can be well worth the effort.

If you're a whiskey connoisseur who wants to travel outside the two whiskey meccas of Kentucky and Tennessee, you won't be short of options. The benefits of joining a whiskey club can include receiving early access to newly released whiskeys, receiving discounts on all purchases, and gaining access to limited edition whiskeys. Distilleries and whiskey trails can be found just about wherever in the United States, from Colorado to Texas to Oregon to Michigan and beyond. Get a group together, hit the road, and toast the exciting world of handmade whiskey along the way.