Courtesy of Spirit Works Distillery
July 16, 2015

Think of Sonoma County and you undoubtedly think of light, well-balanced pinots and rich chardonnays. But between the vineyards, a new batch of distilleries are cropping up—and they’re making spirits just as complex as the area’s wines. Here, the best spirits we’ve tasted lately.

Gin at Spirit Works Distillery

In a big tin warehouse in Sebastopol’s new artisan complex, The Barlow, the husband-and-wife duo behind Spirit Works dream up inventive gins you can sample in their tasting room. Recent must-try concoctions include a barrel-aged gin—it’s soaked for four months in American white oak barrels, adding an amber color and notes of vanilla and spice, as well as an experimental barrel reserve sloe gin.

Whiskey at Sonoma County Distilling Co.

You’ll find rare breeds of rye and wheat whiskeys at this grain-to-glass facility in Rohnert Park. Take a tour to see how they employ 16th-century techniques in their distilling process, like using live fire under an alembic still. Try their flagship Sonoma rye whiskey, aged in charred American oak barrels, or their new West of Kentucky Bourbon No. 2, a toast to the bourbon forefathers that uses American yellow corn and malted barley.

Vodka at Hanson of Sonoma

A couple of years ago, two brothers decided to use region’s the local grapes for something other than wine: vodka. The result? A subtle and smooth organic spirit conducive to being infused with subtle flavors, like cucumber and ginger. They’re currently working on a tasting room, which they hope to open by the end of summer. Until then, you can find it at local bars and markets.

Jenna Scatena is on the San Francisco Bay Area beat for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

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