Wednesday, March 21, 2012

News Flash: There are Now More Whiskey Distilleries in the US than in Scotland

It's true! In 2009, after observing the American micro-distilling boom for a few years, I set about putting together a list of all of the whiskey distilleries in the United States. When I first posted the two part list (one list for Kentucky and one for everywhere else), I was able to count 36 active distilleries, plus nine more in the works.

I now keep an updated list on a separate page (the list also includes independent bottlers as a separate category). The current count of whiskey distilleries on that list is a staggering 129. Now, some of those distilleries do not yet have anything on the market and many are very, very small, but it is still an amazing number, and it is still growing. I update the list more than once per month with new distilleries that I find out about from combing the news, the net at the good old TTB.

In contrast, Scotland has 97 active malt whisky distilleries, including new distilleries that are not yet marketing whiskey. In addition, there are seven grain distilleries, making a total of 104 whiskey distilleries in Scotland. So yes, there are more whiskey distilleries in the United States than in Scotland however you count.

Of course, there are a number of caveats that go along with that statement. The United States is obviously a much larger country than Scotland, and many of the American distilleries make only unaged "white whiskey" and other young whiskeys that could not even be legally called whiskey in Scotland. Still, given that 15 years ago there were only about a dozen whiskey distilleries in the United States, this is a remarkable growth rate which demonstrates the popularity of the American craft distillery movement.

Here are some fun facts about American distilleries:

  • There are whiskey distilleries in 36 of the 50 states.

  • Kentucky has the most distilleries with 14, followed by California with 12 and Oregon with 11.

  • Eleven states have five or more distilleries.

Now, I've been a frequent critic of craft distilleries and continue to be, but as I try to keep track of them for my list, I can't help but be impressed by the sheer breadth of the movement and the rate at which they are opening. That being said, lets see how many of them last half as long as the average Scotch distillery. That, not the number in existence today, will be the ultimate test.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Much like the explosion in micro-breweries across the country, I see this as a good thing for the consumer. Sure, there is likely to be a number of duds produced, however, it is just as likely there will be a number of very good products released. Unfortunately, unlike beer we will not get a chance to really sample some of these products for years while they age in the barrel.