With all the distilleries around the world, how do you decide which ones to explore? We’ve put together a list of the coolest bars, bucket-list stops and worldwide venues worth adding to your travel plans (or even making a special trip for). Some confer bragging rights as a pioneer or record-breaker, while others offer unique experiences worth making a detour to visit.
Add these eight stops to your travel bucket list (plus a few bonus ones) for memorable drinking experiences you won’t find anywhere else.
Highest Altitude: Breckenridge Distillery or Orma
Breckenridge, Colorado or Silvaplana, Switzerland
Located at 9,600 feet above sea level, Colorado’s Breckenridge Distillery takes the title for the highest-altitude distillery in the U.S. Located on the outskirts of a ski-resort town in the Rocky Mountains, the distillery is worth a visit for its selection of bourbon and other whiskeys, art-filled restaurant and cocktail bar. Plus, you may possibly get a peek at the members-only Dark Arts Club.
But worldwide, Switzerland’s Orma takes the top (see what we did there?) title. From its St. Moritz summit, the distillery makes its single malt whiskey at about 10,836 feet above sea level.
Longest Bar in the World: Nearest Green Distillery
Add this to your upcoming 2023 travel plans. At Nearest Green Distillery, which makes Uncle Nearest whiskey, the Humble Baron bar will be opening in March 2023. The wooden bar will be 525 linear feet, making it the longest bar in the world. It’s part of the Distillery’s whiskey-centric complex, which founder Fawn Weaver jokingly calls “Malt Disney.”
Lowest Altitude: M&H Whisky Distillery
Tel Aviv, Israel
The Dead Sea, a salt-laden lake that borders Israel, Jordan and the West Bank, has the lowest land elevation on earth, sitting about 1,385 feet below sea level. You can’t get any lower without sinking into the ocean. It’s here that Tel Aviv-based Milk & Honey Distillery is experimenting with the impact of low elevation on aging whiskey.
Most Athletic: High West Distillery & Saloon
Park City, Utah
Located in a ski town, this whiskey maker is the only ski-in/ski-out facility. To be clear, you can’t ski into the actual distillery, where whiskey and vodka are made. However, it’s affiliated with High West Saloon, located at the bottom of Park City Resort’s Quittin’ Time ski run and next to the Town Lift, which is considered the world’s first ski-in gastro-distillery.
In early 2022, High West added a pop-up by Northern California’s Mammoth Mountain, where patrons were able to ski right up to the bar.
Most Historic: Bols
Bols lays claim to the oldest distillery in continual operation. Established in 1575 by the Bulsius family (the name was later shortened to the more Dutch-sounding Bols), the distillery is best known for making genever, a malty spirit similar to gin, and a wide range of liqueurs.
The “House of Bols” is available for tours, including a scent “library” and a Flair Booth, for those who want to learn splashy cocktail moves from mixology pros.
Most Remote: St Helena Distillery or Myken Distillery
Saint Helena Island or Myken, Norway
This is challenging to substantiate because St Helena Distillery is considered one of the most difficult to visit. This distillery is located on a tiny island 1,200 miles off the coast of South Africa and is accessible only via a five-day cruise on the HMS Helena, which embarks once every three weeks. The distillery makes gin, rum and liqueurs, as well as Tungi, a clear liquor distilled from the prickly pears that grow on the island.
Another strong contender? Myken Distillery, which makes gin and single malt whisky above the Arctic circle, on a tiny island 20 miles from the nearest point on the Norwegian mainland. The island is accessible by a once-daily ferry. We’re curious about the Arktisk Vintergin (Artic Winter Gin), said to channel the essence of the Northern Lights.
Most Theatrical: Lost Spirits Distillery
Las Vegas, Nevada
It’s hard to imagine a more over-the-top experience than what was on offer at the Los Angeles outpost of Lost Spirits: it broke ground with its Willy Wonka-esque boat ride through the distillery.
But in 2020, the California distillery closed and relocated to Las Vegas. In 2021 it launched a new rum distillery and a literal circus, with a troupe of acrobats, magicians and other performers. Visitors are encouraged to wander a labyrinth of theater sets; the working distillery is enclosed within the immersive cirque-du-Soleil-style experience. This is Vegas, after all.
Most Young-at-Heart: J. Rieger & Co.
Kansas City, Missouri
Technically, this is an old brand, which was founded in 1887 in Kansas City, Missouri as Jacob Rieger & Company, a casualty of Prohibition.
Revived in 2014 as J. Rieger, the reborn brand expanded into larger digs in 2019, in a 60,000-square-foot facility. The new space includes a historical exhibit, the speakeasy-like Hey! Hey! Club in the basement and the outdoor Electric Park Garden Bar, named for the amusement park that once stood nearby, noted for inspiring a young Walt Disney. But most amusing of all: a 40-foot-long spiral slide intended for guests of all ages to ride from the second level to a ground-floor gift shop.