What orange juice is to Florida, bourbon is to Kentucky. But while no one in the Bluegrass State has begun planting orange groves, the Sunshine State has produced a challenger to Kentucky’s bourbon throne – St. Augustine Distillery.

St. Augustine Distillery opened in 2014 with the goal of bringing small batch, super premium spirits back to North Florida.

Mission accomplished.

In 2016, USA Today named St. Augustine Distillery the nation’s best craft gin distillery for its New World gin which is carefully crafted from the finest botanicals, many of them local to the distillery’s home town. That is, but one of many awards earned by the surprisingly mellow, fruity, and drinkable gin.

I write from experience.

Cocktail tasting on the distillery tour at St. Augustine Distillery.

Cocktail tasting on the distillery tour at St. Augustine Distillery. (Photo Credit Chadd Scott / TRAVELING WITHOUT KIDS)

A recent visit to St. Augustine included a stop at the distillery. While I enjoyed the gin, I was coming for bourbon.

St. Augustine Distillery’s Double Cask Bourbon is the company’s reason for being. Producing a world-class gin could be viewed almost as a happy accident along the way while waiting for the bourbon to age.

The spirit is distilled and bottled on-site using local ingredients. In addition to everything else, St. Augustine has a commitment to sustainability, community involvement and locally sourced ingredients. The sugar cane, corn, wheat and citrus used in its spirits are grown locally, providing distinctive flavors while boosting the local agriculture economy.

I found the Double Cask Bourbon bold, flavorful and lively. Perhaps a tad spicy. I don’t even know enough about bourbon to be dangerous so don’t take my word for it – you’ll have to try it for yourself.

My tasting notes won’t mean much to you. Bourbon, whiskey and Scotch are my favorite spirits and I found this bourbon enjoyable to sip neat. For those of you who prefer your drinks mixed, St. Augustine Distillery offers a craft old-fashioned mix. I didn’t even know craft mixes were a thing.

Bottles of St. Augustine Distillery Double Cask Bourbon.

Bottles of St. Augustine Distillery Double Cask Bourbon. (Photo Credit Chadd Scott / TRAVELING WITHOUT KIDS)

Distillers hate when people do this, but it’s what you expect, so if I had to compare St. Augustine Distillery’s Double Cask Bourbon to anything you’ve likely sampled, I would compare it to Maker’s Mark.

What may defy comparison to anything else on the market is the distillery’s Port Finished Bourbon. This spirit is the result of the Double Cask Bourbon being finished in barrels from the neighboring San Sebastian Winery. Darker, mellower, easier, the Port Finished Bourbon lacks any “bite,” preferring to purr instead.

This, to me, is craft spirits at their finest: innovative, unusual, unique, flavorful. St. Augustine Distillery’s Port Finished Bourbon is a spirit worth going well out of your way for if you’re a connoisseur.

Located mere blocks away from the downtown tourist district, well within walking distance of any number of restaurants, art galleries and boutiques, St. Augustine Distillery makes a great addition to an already exceptional destination. Short, free tours are available seven days a week and a gift shop is located on site for purchase of spirit, mixes, bar hardware and any number of souvenirs.

Bourbon barrels aging inside St. Augustine Distillery.

Bourbon barrels aging inside St. Augustine Distillery. (Photo Credit Chadd Scott / TRAVELING WITHOUT KIDS)