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relates to The 16 Best Spirits of 2021

Photo Illustration: 731; Bottles: Vendors; Background: Getty Images

The 16 Best Spirits of 2021

In a year whose biggest surprise was more of the same, the following bottles stood out for bringing forth flavors that felt refreshingly new.

There was no shortage of new spirit to sip through in 2021. As a professional in the space, I keep a running tabulation of all liquids I’m introduced to throughout the year. With only a few weeks left on the calendar, that number has raced past the 200 mark. There’s a dual edge to that sort of density; While it’s undoubtedly an exciting time to be a consumer of craft liquor, it’s a daunting time for producers to find meaningful separation. Too much gets lost on the shelf—or is simply forgotten—shortly after release.

Meaningful innovation is the only remedy. And an increasing number of brands are finding it through genre-bending—placing a primacy on flavor above a commitment to the traditions of any time-honored category.