Skip to main content

This is What Distillers are Drinking Right Now

As drink enthusiasts, we love to know what the pros are stocking their fridges with or ordering while at the bar. So far, we’ve picked the brains of brewers as well as sommeliers. Only seems logical that we would reach out to a few distillers, while we’re at it.

What we discovered is that some of the top distillers out there are a lot like us: They like to collect spirits, enjoy sparkling wine, and have a nice cold beer or cup of tea when the time is right. Because these individuals are embedded in the industry, they tend to spot trends before the rest of us getting a picture of what they’re enjoying in the glass can inform our next trip to our favorite bottle shop or watering hole.

Here’s what a few standout distillers are sipping on right now.

Seth Benhaim

Broken Barrel Whiskey Company

Seth Benhaim with a cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Seth Benhaim is the founder and CEO of Broken Barrel Whiskey Co. in Los Angeles. Over his years in the industry, he’s gained a real interest in collecting specialty bottles, creating a bottle library of his own.

“Part of being a whiskey producer to me entails understanding other distilleries’ products to gain a better consensus for what is being put on the market from the smallest to largest producers, domestically and internationally across multiple categories,” he says. “As such, I have collected over 1,100 different bottles of spirits spanning from Armagnac to Mezcal and bourbon to Scotch.”

“Lately I have been collecting and tasting lots of older Scotch single cask, cask strength bottlings from the early 2000s as these whiskeys were so far ahead of most American whiskey producers,” he says. “Finding these dusty Scotches is not only fun when out in different cities but also has ended up being some of the best whiskey I’ve ever tasted, particularly from the Speyside and Islay regions. We taste a lot of bourbon and American whiskey during the day as part of our job so it’s fun to change it up at night and on the weekends.”

Melissa Heim

Big Nose Kate Whiskey

Melissa Heim in black tee.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For Melissa Heim at Big Nose Kate Whiskey in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it’s all about simplifying. Heim’s work as co-founder and master blender of the brand involves calculating blends and exacting ratios. When the day is winding down, she’s ready for a tasty finished product. “Quality is everything,” she says, “I don’t drink anything I wouldn’t be proud to serve to peers or my colleagues.”

Heim name drops Siponey canned cocktails as a go-to. “I like the classic Royale made with New York Rye, honey, and lemon,” Heim says. “It’s incredibly satisfying to drink a $15 cocktail in my sweatpants in my kitchen and to support another female founder.” Heim reaches for a cold beer when the weekend chores are done. “I’m drinking Matchless Brewing Brave and Adventurous Saloon Lager for its perfect execution of a whiskey-inspired grain bill,” she says. “These brewers are at the top of their game.”

What about a nightcap? She likes Dottie May’s Oatmilk Liqueur over ice. “Barista quality ingredients, easily prepared, and not a sugar bomb,” Heim says. “It’s sophisticated sipping without fuss. I’m not vegan but I buy this because it’s delicious.” Oh, and remember to drink water, she advises, in order to stay functional.

Jason Ericson

Eastside Distilling

Jason Ericson in tux, holding a glass.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

At Eastside Distilling in Portland, Oregon, Jason Ericson is the head distiller. These days, he’s been into bubbles, specifically Spanish sparkling wine. “Lately I’ve been into Cava, trying to find as many as I can here in the city. It’s reasonably priced and of great quality. I think it’s great for sipping on its own, in a mimosa, or a French 75,” he says.

Later in the day, Ericson likes to switch it up. “My go-to drink in the afternoon though is jasmine pearl green tea. I even have a dedicated cast iron teapot for brewing it,” he says, adding that Tao of Tea is one of his favorite options. “During the week it’s a ritual to separate work time from leisure time. I’ll brew a pot when I get home and decompress if I need to. On the weekends though it’s purely for the enjoyment of the tea. I usually keep at least five or six types of loose leaf teas in my pantry.”

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
There’s a big wine glut right now: Here’s what that means for you
Wine glut? More like wine deals
Wine bottles

Many people would contend that there's no such thing as too much wine. However, recent global data suggests that we're experiencing a global wine glut, with more supply than demand. In fact, the surplus is so great that some growers are ripping up their vines and using their land in other ways.

The glut began to appear last year, but its sources all go back to around 2020.
Why is there a wine surplus?

Read more
It’s official: Gen Z is not a fan of wine (and what that means for everyone else)
Gen Z doesn't need wine to be high on life. What's that like?
Friends toasting with beer

For those of us wine-worshipping Millennials, the thought of the younger generation not inheriting this shared fervor for all things viticultural is outright ludicrous. But according to a new report from Silicon Valley Bank’s 2024 State of the US Wine Industry, that appears to be exactly what's happening. Perhaps it was our overenthusiasm that spooked the members of Gen Z; perhaps they found our DIY cork art and tacky TJ Maxx wine-pun napkins too "cheugy," and we've frightened them off of the incredible nectar forever. Perhaps we Millennials were just too outspoken in our passion, and wine is now somehow being reduced and widdled down to nothing but a once-trendy item that will age out of style with those of us who can still rap every word of the Fresh Prince intro. It's enough to make one shed tears into their oversized wine glass. How can this be?

The study
Widely viewed as one of the most comprehensive analyses of the wine industry, Silicon Valley Bank's report is bleak but with a few hints at a silver lining for those of us who are hoping to see the wine industry keep its head above water.

Read more
Why you can (and should) add bourbon right to your banana bread batter without cooking it first
Bourbon alcohol cooks out as banana bread bakes - genius!
Banana bread

Cooking with booze is one of the best ways to achieve a robust and delicious complexity of flavor. For any number of dishes, we braise, poach, deglaze, and sauce with everything in the liquor cabinet, from wine to tequila to rum, and our food is better for it. And while you may have incorporated beer into your cupcakes or poached pear in a simmering pool of red wine, you may not yet fully appreciate the flavor spirits can bring to baked goods. Banana bread is one of the most delicious, comforting, feels-like-home treats there is, and it's hard to imagine it getting any better than it already is in its mildly sweet, toasty perfection. Enter bourbon.

It turns out that splashing a bit of bourbon into banana bread batter can take Grandma's recipe and elevate it to something one might find in an upscale restaurant. Here's why.

Read more