161 Vester Ave., Ferndale; 248-629-9951; valentinedistilling.com
When Michigan loosened restrictions on small-batch distilling, Rifino Valentine was one of the first ones there, distilling his own Valentine vodka in a hand-pounded copper still. He opened his own tasting room in Ferndale to showcase the brand before any locals thought to, and then followed on the heels of bleeding-edge distillers by producing a cask gin, dubbed Liberator Old Tom Gin. Valentine didn't just earn our readers' honors by getting there early, but by staying at the forefront of a fast-moving scene.
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