Not too bad. I’ve visited two of the five distilleries mentioned: John Watling’s Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas and Miami Club Rum in Miami, FL.
These booze-makers are waiting to welcome you.
Seems no matter what corner of the world you’re in, a distillery (massive or craft) is just steps away. So what better way to conquer winter travel—that is, escaping from the cold to the tropics—than a distillery to explore. Here are five warm-weather destinations that are homes to gin, rum and vodka production—and tequila, too.
#1 Tequila Selecto (Mexico)
Amatitán, the head of the Mexican state of Jalisco, claims to be the home of Jalisco’s oldest tequila distillery and is where many tequila brands operate from, birthplace or not. At Tequila Selecto, the distillery where Blue Nectar tequila is crafted, visitors are given tours of the estate, set in the middle of agave plantations—a contrast to other local facilities, which tend to be much more industrial. With flowers, trees (some centuries-old), horses and birds (hawks, peacocks and doves), the family-owned property, which has been operating for nearly 20 years, has more of a feel of a farm than a factory. Daily tours can be booked directly through Tequila Selecto and also through Mickey Marentes.
Also check out: Museo Los Abuelos, a museum dedicated to all things tequila in nearby Jalisco.
#2 American Freedom Distillery (Miami, FL)
Giving the proximity to Cuba and Puerto Rico, one would think there’s more rum being made in south Florida, and perhaps that was Matt Malone’s rationale when he opened Miami Club Rum in the artsy Wynwood neighborhood back in 2012. He learned that distilling was in his family lineage, took the knowledge and ran with it. He opened Destilería Canéca and launched its first spirit, Miami Club Rum, which was met with critical acclaim. Tours of the distillery (Miami’s first), rum tasting included, are offered daily, and the space is also used for events and parties.
Also check out: American Freedom Distillery, opening this spring, is a veteran-owned distillery making whiskey, rum, vodka and gin (and eventually bourbon) in the historic Warehouse / Arts District of St. Petersburg, Fla.
#3 John Watling’s Distillery (Nassau, Bahamas)
John Watling was a 17th-century buccaneer who sailed the Bahamian seas, and his spirit lives on today at his namesake distillery in downtown Nassau. Housed in the Buena Vista Estate, which dates back to 1789, visitors to John Watling’s Distillery can learn about the method by which the distillery makes pale rum, amber rum and its signature Buena Vista rum, using local, hand-cut and pressed sugar cane molasses with very little mechanization. Along with harbor views at the estate, look for a museum-like tour (offered daily), along with shopping and Bahamian cocktails at the on-site Red Turtle Tavern.
Also check out: A 90-minute flight away in Montego Bay, Jamaica, is Appleton Estate, the distillery that creates the island’s famous rum, where visitors can have a look at the copper pot stills that are unique to Appleton.
#4 Rob Rubens Distilling & Brewing (Los Angeles, CA)
While it may boast the freshest of farmers’ markets and more green juice purveyors than most cities, Los Angeles isn’t exactly known for its local spirits. Well, a few locals are aiming to change that. Our/Los Angeles is making small-batch vodka out of downtown L.A., and while it’s not for sale to the public from there, visitors can sample it on a tour, try it at the on-site tasting room or buy a bottle at a retailer nearby. In El Segundo, Rob Rubens and his team are brewing (beer) and distilling (vodka, whiskey and gin) and offering tours and tastings daily at Rob Rubens Distilling & Brewing. And over at The Spirit Guild in the Arts District, learn about its method of making vodka and gin with a tour and tasting from the husband-and-wife team at the helm.
Also check out: Mulholland Distilling, the brainchild of two Hollywood vets, offers tours and tastings of its vodka, gin and whiskey starting this spring.
#5 Four Pillars (Australia)
Australia may get credit for its wine production, but there aren’t many craft distillers down under. One of the few is Four Pillars, a gin distillery based in Victoria’s Yarra Valley, set among the valley’s esteemed wineries and Yarra River. Two hours from Melbourne, the bushland setting reflects Four Pillars’ method of making gin, using locally sourced botanicals and Yarra Valley water, and the nearby wildlife sanctuary is yet another reminder of being outside of the city. Worth noting: America’s wintertime is the Southern Hemisphere’s summertime, so now’s the time to go.
Also check out: Rising star Starward for in-depth whiskey classes and tours set in its Port Melbourne distillery.