Fall has a certain effect on people. As soon as the weather starts to shift, dogs get hand-knit sweaters to wear, it’s considered normal to put pumpkin spice in just about everything, and people begin to think that “leaf peeping” is an acceptable term to use in public. If you’re one of the latter, you might as well be doing it at a distillery. If you’re someone who is friends with a leaf peeper, well, you probably need a distillery.
Semantics aside, there really are some amazing distilleries to sit and watch the seasons change while sipping straight from the source. These are the top seven. (If you want see fall foliage while drinking, but you aren’t a liquor person, we have a fall beer destination guide and a fall wine destination guide as well).
7. Cascade Street Distillery in Sisters, Oregon
Lodged in a refurbished barn near the Cascade Mountains with a view of the Three Sisters volcanic peaks, Cascade Street Distillery has plenty to look at. The distillery makes Broken Top Bourbon, South Sister Gin and North Sister Vodka and claims to “take the essence of a place and put it into a bottle.”
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6. Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardener, New York
Tuthilltown Spirits is an escape every city lover can appreciate. Its bourbons and ryes have plenty of awards between them, and its historic Hudson Valley location makes for easy viewing to go along with the easy drinking. History tip to remember when you visit: When Tuthilltown Spirits opened in 2005, it was the first whiskey distillery in New York to open since Prohibition.
5. Bulleit in Louisville, Kentucky
Bulleit’s Stitzel-Weller Distillery is a Kentucky bourbon trail location you don’t want to miss. In 2014, the distillery opened to the public (it originally opened for the Kentucky Derby just after Prohibition in 1935). But besides the alcohol and the history, the Stitzel-Weller distillery proves that leaf peeping extends past New England.
4. Defiant in Bostic, North Carolina
Defiant is helmed by a crew of former salvage divers. Now, nestled next to the Blue Ridge Mountains, they produce award-winning, Scottish-inspired, four-ingredient whisky. Fall is the best time to get a taste of the spirit if you have any appreciation for aesthetics.
3. Cedar Ridge in Swisher, Iowa
Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery is made by down-to-earth Iowans who respect the time it takes to make good whiskey and wine. It was Iowa’s first distillery since Prohibition (notice a pattern here? The first always seem to lock down the best spots), and has the added bonus of an on-site winery, so you know the fall colors are something to behold.
2. Sugarlands Distilling Company in Gatlinburn, Tennessee
First thing to remember when making a leaf-peeping trip to Sugarlands Distilling Company: You’re in moonshine territory. Sugarlands even has a modern day moonshiner. Steven Tickle, who made a name for himself on Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners,” is part of the (legal) distilling team at Sugarlands. Enjoy some ‘shine, then enjoy the colorful Appalachians.
1. Asheville Distilling Company in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville may be more famous for its beer than its liquor, but don’t count out the Asheville Distilling Company — especially when it comes to watching Mother Nature transition from summer to winter. Take a tour, take a sip, and then take a sit (or a hike) for gorgeous fall foliage views.