The relationship between Utah and booze has historically been a shaky one.

Currently, the Beehive State limits beer on draft to 5% ABV. If you’re looking for a shot of spirit, your bartender won’t be allowed to pour you more than 1.5 ounces at a time. You’re technically required to order food with any alcohol order at restaurants, even at the bar. Maybe you’ll encounter the infamous ‘Zion Curtain’—a partition that prevents patrons from observing alcohol preparation altogether.

Despite the byzantine rules in Utah, the native spirits scene is booming, with local distilleries bottling some of the most exciting craft spirits in the country. The liquid enjoys an almost-obligatory presence during après-ski at the state’s world-class winter resorts. And talented mixologists are working that liquid into exciting and innovative preparations from Salt Lake City to points beyond. 

Utah Distilleries

When founder Dave Perkins opened High West in 2006, it became the first legal distillery in Utah since 1870. Since then, over a dozen craft producers are making unique and exciting spirits all over the state. Here are some of the best.

Photo by John McCarthy

High West Distillery

Park City, Utah
Established: 2006

High West helped kickstart the movement in 2006 when it opened at the foot of Park City Resort, the world’s first ski-in gastro distillery. And while they were sourcing much of that juice from outside the state—specifically MGP, in Lawrenceburg, Indiana—the blends and finishes they incorporated into a rye-centric portfolio were enough to turn heads. Because of its prominent placement amidst the annual melee of the Sundance Film Festival, bottles such as Rendezvous Rye and a limited edition, genre-blending Bourye, a bourbon and rye combo, instantly found a high-profile national audience.

Tours: Free Sensory Tour Experiences offered Thursday—Sunday by online reservation.

"When founder Dave Perkins opened High West in 2006, it became the first legal distillery in Utah since 1870. Since then, over a dozen craft producers are making unique and exciting spirits all over the state."

Photo courtesy of Sugar House

Sugar House Distillery

Salt Lake City, Utah
Established: 2013

While there is something for everybody at Sugar House, whiskey fans will want this grain-to-glass operation on their radar. Lead Distiller Richard Malyn manifests his love-of-local in Sugar House’s unique bourbon and rye made with with proprietary yeast strains cultivated at the distillery. But locals will tell you Sugar House is best known for its American single malt, a 92-proof whiskey distilled from a combination of Pale, Vienna, and Honey malts.

Tours: Available via online reservation. $20.00 tour & tasting; $10.00 tour
Photo by Tom Lesback

Alpine Distilling

Park City, Utah
Established: 2016

Alpine Distilling set up shop not far from High West, then opened a second location right on Park City’s Main Street where you can drop in for tasting flights and cocktails. Owner and Master Distiller Rob Sergent is already gaining a following with some of his distinctively modified whiskey expressions, including a bourbon finished in IPA casks and Lafayette, a whiskey delicately spiced with apricot, primrose, and cinnamon. But Alpine also serves beautiful, multi-award-winning gin, vodka, and liqueurs.

Tours: Contact for details and pricing.
Photo courtesy of Outlaw Distilling

Outlaw Distillery

Sandy, Utah
Established: 2015

Just south of Salt Lake City in Midvale is Outlaw Distillery. Head distiller Kirk Sedgwick distills only locally sourced gains, which is perhaps most evident in its White Whiskey. But whiskey lovers will sadle up for the bourbon, a mash of  corn, wheat, and barley that’s aged in American and French oak barrels. And don’t skip Outlaw Distillery Cold Brewed Coffee Rum, which is distilled with table quality, ‘fancy’ molasses in place of blackstrap.

Tours: Available via online reservation; $21
Photo courtesy of Holystone Distilling

Holystone Distillery

Murray, Utah
Established: 2019

Devotees of white spirits will surely enjoy a trip to Holystone, located just south of Salt Lake City. Holystone prides itself on its luxury spirits made with difficult to source and expensive ingredients. This craft distillery is best known for its bold and potent Bosun’s Navy Strength Gin, but don’t overlook its Perla Vodka, Tsunami Sochu, and Apparition Absinthe while you’re there. Scheduled tours of the distillery conclude in Holystone’s 1920’s cruise ship-styled lounge, where visitors nosh on a charcuterie board while tasting through the lineup.

Tours: Tours and tasting available via online reservation; $10.

Then There Are The Bars

Now that you know some of the bottles worth seeking out, how about exploring the best places to pour it for you? Here’s a helpful cross-section of watering holes from across the state, ranging from throwback, Wild West-style saloons to refined, modern dens of mixology.

Photo courtesy of The Owl Bar

The Owl Bar

8841 N Alpine Loop Rd, Provo

If you crave some history with your hooch, pull up a stool at this cozy wood-lined lodge at the foot of Sundance Mountain Resort. Once frequented by Butch Cassidy and his gang (no word of the Sundance Kid), The Owl Bar was relocated from its original home in Thermopolis, Wyoming, to its current locale in Provo. Today you can swig on some of their proprietary single barrel selections while enjoying live acoustic music sets on the weekends.
Photo courtesy of Alta_Shafer_Stitzmark

Snowpine Lodge at Alta

10420 E State Highway 210, Alta

Although newly rebuilt, this four-star hotel sits on the site of the oldest building in Little Cottonwood Canyon. On its top floor, you’ll find The Gulch Pub, serving ingredient-minded elixirs under the shadow of one of the country’s premier skiing destinations. Try the Still-Wells Sour, working in Sugarhouse Rye underneath a red wine float. But if you’re craving something a little warmer, the Sitzmark Club at neighboring Alta Lodge is pouring perhaps the most celebrated Hot Toddy in the entire state.
Photo by Austen Diamond

Under Current

270 S 300 E, Salt Lake City

This elegant-yet-casual Salt Lake liquor lounge has quickly become a neighborhood fixture since opening its doors in 2015. While you are guaranteed a fine classic drink, Under Current’s house cocktails bend towards the bitter, with an impressive arsenal of Amari flowing from the back bar. An incredibly knowledgeable and engaged staff keeps them in sync with the seasons. They also boast an impressive stable of elevated bar bites to keep you thirsting for more.
Photo courtesy of High West

High West Saloon

703 Park Ave, Park City

No visit to Park City is complete without a visit to the grandaddy of gastro-distilleries. Cocktails here are divided between ‘Light & Refreshing’ and ‘Stirred & Strong’, and you really can’t go wrong in either category. Or perhaps you’re more in the mood for a full-on flight of neat spirit from the rye-centric producers. Sipping through them in an Old West-themed tavern adjacent to whirring copper stills is as ideal a setting as any. Just make sure to save some time to visit their new facility in Wanship—a quiet mountain community about 25 minutes north of town.

Brad Japhe is a freelance journalist specializing in travel with a focus on spirits, food and beverage. His work appears in all major media markets across the United States. He hosts frequent craft beer/spirits tastings on both coasts, preferring scotch to bourbon, IPAs to lagers, and a hearty hamburger to a prime cut of steak. His favorite breed of dog is the Siberian Husky and he suffers from an irrational, unrequited love for the New York Knicks.