A True Taste of the Land: The Rise of Small-Batch Distilleries

Venturing beyond the well-known brands and commercial giants, these small-batch distilleries lovingly create spirits that have as much sense of place or terroir as the best wineries. From the verdant potato farms of Maine to the dusty deserts of Texas, these whiskeys, vodkas, and gins are literally instilled and distilled with a true sense of place by using local ingredients and time-honored techniques. 

Places like these are at the heart of the All Roads North experience. Not only do we curate authentic hidden gems such as these for your tailor-made journeys, our connections provide you a seat at the table. In this case, that table could be for an immersive, VIP tasting experience or behind-the-scenes insight into the production process.

Desert Door

Desert Door Distillery

Who they are and what they make: 

Everything about both the product and process behind Desert Door is entirely unique. The Texas-based company was born in the West Texas desert, where the founders first encountered the Sotol plant. This spiky desert succulent has long been used by Indigenous peoples for everything from tools to food and drink, but it isn’t commonly known in modern culture. The distilled result could be compared to tequila, but has plenty of character apart from this similarity. 

Desert Door describes it this way: “While it’s not an agave spirit, our Desert Door Original is a lot like a premium tequila on the nose, with bright notes of vanilla and green grass. But here the similarities end. Tasting reveals flavors like toffee, mint, and orange zest. The finish is custard-smooth – smoother than tequila – with subtle hints of sage.”

Paying homage to Texas:

Desert Door “wild-harvests” all of their sotol from ranches across Texas. Meaning, they don’t farm or cultivate any of their source product. 

“Wild-harvesting is a much more sustainable practice than monocropping and helps conserve valuable resources such as land and water.”


The Desert Door Tasting Room is located in the heart of hill country on the eastern edge of wild Sotol country, in Driftwood, Texas. With live music and several unique, Sotol-based cocktails to choose from, Desert Door provides a true taste of Texas.

Cold River

Cold River Distillery

Who they are and what they make: 

In 2003, Donnie Thibodeau, owner of Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg, Maine, saw a downturn in potato sales nationally, and had the idea to distill his potatoes into vodka. Together with his brother, a family friend, and beer brewing consultant Christopher Dowe, Cold River Vodka was born. The brand also produces a blueberry-flavored vodka made with wild blueberries, a crowd favorite, according to Christopher.

Paying homage to Maine:

Idaho is often famed for their spuds, but following World War II, Maine used to be the largest producer of potatoes in the country. With a growing season that has the ideal combination of sun and rain, Maine’s potato farmers are able to use less irrigation than the national average. Maine’s potatoes are also typically grown with less pesticides as the long, cold winters deter pests. Cold River celebrates the state’s signature harvest by using only local, Maine farms to source their potatoes. The distillery also uses water from Maine’s eponymous Cold River as the second key ingredient in their spirits. 


Meet with head distiller and founder, Chris Dowe at Cold River’s New England-style, blue shingle-sided house. You’ll be able to see the complex triple distilling process, and then head upstairs to an intimate tasting room to try their varieties of small-batch gin and vodka.

Treaty Oak Distilling

Treaty Oak Distilling

Who they are and what they make:

Named after the historic tree located in downtown Austin, Treaty Oak was founded in 2006 as the fourth legal distillery in Texas. The Treaty Oak team is made up of an eclectic group of makers with very different backgrounds.

“The members of our team have experienced so many things—searched for oil, designed buildings, cooked over campfires, served in the military, created art, played rock and roll,” said Lee Fenner, Treaty Oak’s Marketing Director. “We are all collected at Treaty Oak because our founder believes in the creative yield of eclectic experiences.”

This diversity in background encourages an environment for a team that isn’t afraid to experiment and evolve, constantly seeking to improve their bourbon whiskeys. 

Paying homage to Texas:

Aside from harnessing that trademark-Texan sense of hospitality and authenticity, Treaty Oak produces a product that is directly informed by the surrounding land.

“Central Texas has a very different climate than Kentucky and other areas producing bourbon. The wide swings of temperature and humidity allow for a maturation that is specific to the weather of the hill country,” Fenner said. “Our non-climate-controlled Rickhouse was designed to showcase the environment and seasons that we experience. Our bourbon tells that story.”


The Treaty Oak distillery is located in Dripping Springs, Texas in the heart of Texas Hill Country’s rolling hills and lush scenery. All Roads North clients can experience this artisan distillery with a visit to the source and sample from five of our Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon barrels while we discuss the unique factors that result in subtle variation from barrel to barrel. Once you’ve chosen your favorite, you can wax dip your own custom bottle to take home.

Green Mountain Distillers

Green Mountain Distillers

Who they are and what they make:

Green Mountain Distillers was founded in 2002 by Timothy Danahy and Harold Faircloth III, the master distillers behind the craft distillery who still individually number and produce each bottle by hand. Made using small-batch fermentation and distilled six times to achieve the highest quality spirit possible, the distillery offers vodka, gin and maple liqueur. They sell several flavored-vodkas, such as lemon and blueberry, but their award-winning “Sunshine” Vodka is a simple, pure amalgamation of 100% organic grain and Vermont spring water. 

Paying homage to Vermont:

The founders focus on a close integration from field to process to product to produce a high quality product that pays homage to the local region. The grain is purchased from a family farmer-owned cooperative and then combined with Vermont spring water, drawn from a source located close to Mount Mansfield, the tallest peak in Vermont. 


Visit the Green Mountain distillery and get a personal tasting and guided visit of the property for insightful and passionate insight into the operation with the founders themselves, Tim and Howie.


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