No matter where you go in this great, big world, there’s some form of local, indigenous alcoholic beverage to try, for those so inclined. It’s not just about boozing it up, though–each specific spirit tells a unique story about the place it was produced through regional flavors, ingredients, production methods and the history and people behind each bottle. And while we all know about the backstories of gin in England, bourbon in Kentucky and rum in the Caribbean, there are fantastic spirits being made the world over that you may be less familiar with. So here are 11 from around the globe that offer a gustatory postcard from a specific locale, ranging from whiskey to brandy to gin to shochu.
Cognac has a very specific geographical indicator, meaning it can only be made in the eponymous region of France. But across the sea in California, Julious Grant and his team are taking cues from a classic and producing this “California Cognac.” The XO expression is aged for at least six years in charred and toasted American- and French-oak barrels and has a complexity on the palate that is as good as any pricey bottle of Hennessy you’ve tried. But this is a different spirit, and proudly so-a premium California brandy that can be enjoyed in an old-fashioned but might be best sipped neat.