A (brief) menu of local spirits: Here’s where to sip the region’s growing list of distilled creations

A few years ago, you couldn’t find locally distilled spirits in northern Nevada. Today, you can find a variety of bourbons, gins, liquors, rums, vodkas, and whiskeys either made in the area or crafted with ingredients from the region. For easy reference, here’s a primer to the variety of local libations you can imbibe.


Branded Hearts Distillery

Branded Hearts Distillery founder Ryan Cherrick left his job in law enforcement in California to move to Nevada and open a craft distillery. He’s enamored with the science behind spirits. The name “Branded Hearts” refers to the portion of spirit kept during distillation that is aged in charred oak barrels. brandedheartsdistillery.com

Location: 121 Woodland Ave, No. 160, Reno
Types of Spirits: Bourbon, Honey Spirit, Rum, Whiskey
Tastings/Tours: Noon to 8 p.m. Fridays


Cemetery Gin

Legend has it that in the mid-1800s the only way to safely drink the water in Virginia City was to mix it with two parts gin. Cemetery Gin pays homage to this lore with a spirit distilled with lavender and Nevada pine nuts. One dollar of every bottle purchased is donated to the Comstock Cemetery Foundation. cemeterygin.com

Location: Distilled at Frey Ranch Estate Distillery in Fallon
Where to find it: Bars throughout northern Nevada, Total Wine & More, Raley’s


Forsaken River Spirits

Galena High School graduates James Sipaila and Earl Spriggs founded Forsaken River Spirits in 2015 to make hand-crafted, small batch spirits influenced by the northern Nevada environment. forsakenriver.com

Location: 255 Bell St., No. 103, Reno
Types of Spirits: Gin, Vodka, Whiskey
Tastings/Tours: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 1 to 6 p.m. Saturdays, or by appointment


Frey Ranch Estate Distillery & Churchill Vineyards

Frey Ranch is Nevada’s first commercial estate distillery and one of the few estate distilleries in the United States. Every spirit Frey Ranch produces is grown, distilled and bottled on the property. Owners Colby and Ashley Frey grow the wheat, rye, barley and corn on a 1,200 acre-farm that has been in their family since the late 1800s. In 2014, Frey Ranch opened a 4,000 square-foot distillery, which features a still room, tank room, barreling room and tasting room. freyranch.com

Location: 1045 Dodge Lane, Fallon
Types of Spirits: Absinthe, Gin, Vodka
Tastings/Tours: Noon to 4 p.m., Saturdays


Mill Street Still and Brew

Mill Street Still and Brew is the only distillery in Nevada and one of few in the United States to use a vacuum distillation process. This process, also known as cold distillation, helps eliminate chemical reactions that cause unwanted, harsh flavors in the spirits. Mill Street also brews beers under the same roof. millstreetstillandbrew.com

Location: 490 Mill Street, Reno
Types of Spirits: Vodka
Tastings/Tours: 1 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays – Fridays, noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m. Sundays


Rocket Vodka

Rocket Vodka is made with three ingredients — Sierra Nevada mountain water, apples from Apple Hill and Washington, and yeast. The vodka is double-carbon filtered to give a hint of fruit flavor and a smooth finish. rocketvodka.com

Location: Distilled at Dry Diggings Distillery in El Dorado Hills, California
Where to find it: Lake Tahoe and Truckee bars and restaurants


Seven Troughs Distilling Co.

Seven Troughs Distilling Co. creates craft spirits with local ingredients. The distillery’s corn and barley come from Yerington and Gardnerville, Nevada. Spirits are made by a mid-19th-century fermentation and distillation process. The name refers to The Seven Troughs Mining District in Pershing County, which yielded some of the highest gold production grades in Nevada history in the early 20th century. 7troughsdistilling.com

Location: 155 Watson Way, Ste. 5, Sparks
Types of Spirits: Gin, Moonshine, Rum, Vodka, Whiskey
Tastings/Tours: 3 to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, by appointment Mondays – Wednesdays


Tahoe Blue Vodka

Matt Levitt founded Tahoe Blue Vodka in South Lake Tahoe in 2012. The spirit is actually a blend of three vodkas: 50 percent sugarcane, 25 percent grape, and 25 percent corn. It’s distilled three times. In 2013, Tahoe Blue took first at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in New York, beating out Chopin and Belvedere for best-unflavored vodka. tahoebluevodka.com

Location: Made with Lake Tahoe water, distilled in Mountain View, California and bottled in Sparks
Where to find it: Ben’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Raley’s, Savemart


Tahoe Moonshine Distillery & Speakeasy

Jeffrey VanHee, owner, and creator of Tahoe Moonshine Distillery, began making rums in 2007 in Costa Rica. Upon returning to the United States, he became an apprentice at Fat Dog Spirits in Ybor City, Florida where he learned how to produce gin, honey vodka and absinthe. He also studied yeast, fermentation and distillation at UC Davis through the American Distilling Institute. tahoemoonshine.com

Location: 1611 Shop St., Unit 4B, South Lake Tahoe
Types of Spirits: Gin, Liquors, Vodka, Rum, Whiskey


The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery

The Depot is more than a distillery. Inside the old railway headquarters on Fourth Street, patrons can drink craft beers brewed on site and order American pub fare. As for the spirits, The Depot distills hand-crafted beverages from local ingredients with a “farm to glass” approach. The distillery recently produced the first Amer in Nevada, which is key to making a Picon Punch, the state’s unofficial drink. thedepotreno.com

Location: 325 E. 4th St., Reno
Types of Spirits: Amer, Bourbon, Gin, Rye, WhiskeyHours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays


Verdi Local Distillery

The smallest licensed distillery in the world, Verdi Local Distillery uses its 850-square-foot space to produce a variety of flavored whiskeys and gin. Owners, Jeremy and Kate Baumann, produce each bottle by hand — including adhering the labels. The distillery offers seasonal flavors, as well as some standards including lemon whiskey, apple cinnamon whiskey, and Yeti Jackalope gin. verdilocaldistillery.com

Location: 1155 Old Highway 40, Unit B, Verdi
Types of Spirits: Gin, Whiskey
Tastings/Tours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays – Thursdays, tasting events from 5 to 8 p.m. the first and third Friday of the month

As for me, I’ll be spending this winter curled up with a hot toddy made with Verdi Local Distillery’s Apple Cinnamon Whiskey. Or, maybe it’ll be a picon punch made with all local ingredients: The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery’s Amer and Frey Ranch Estate Distillery & Churchill Vineyards’ brandy. I’ll let you know when I decide.


By: Annie Flanzraich