Just a sip away from tropical relaxation with these six PNW sugar-based spirits.

Tropical-born spirits have an unrivaled power to transport us. With a sip of distilled dark molasses, sugarcane or rich agave, we’re swept away to sandy beaches, palm-crowned isles and misty rain forests. Yet for all their cachet, these styles are only beginning to come of age in the Northwest craft spirits scene, which to date has been driven by spirits derived more readily from locally grown ingredients.

Now, Northwest producers are inviting farther-flung ingredients and traditions into their distilleries, expanding the scope of tropical styles with fresh local versions of warm-weather favorites. From silver rums and spiced adaptations all the way to a new Northwest take on agave, these are the spirits that deserve your attention this summer.

House Spirits Katun Rum | 40% ABV | $35/375ml
Katun braids molasses from Barbados, yeast from the Isle of Guadalupe and whiskey barrels from House’s Westward whiskey together in a flawless triumvirate, yielding a deep gold spirit that conveys bold elements of oak and muscovado sugar. 

Puget Sound Rum Co. Rum 47 White Rum | 47% ABV | $30/750ml
Slow fermentation of panela derived from organic Colombian sugarcane juice yields one of the most inimitably flavorful distillates in the Northwest. A beautifully pungent, aromatic white rum packed to the brim with an enthralling synthesis of earthy, bready flavors.

Bozeman Spirits Prairie Schooner Spiced Rum | 40% ABV | $36/750ml
Westward-bound wagons were once known as prairie schooners, and Bozeman Spirits’ spiced rum is a nod to the liquor that many carried with them. Its depth of flavor — layering notes of demerara, cassia and clove — arises from eight unique botanicals and ends on an upswing of zesty orange.

Sun Liquor Distillery Sun Rum Silver | 45% ABV | $32/750ml
A Northwest staple that’s perfect for mixing, Sun Liquor’s silver rum — made with fresh-pressed organic sugarcane grown in the Caribbean and Southern United States — expresses soft notes of lime and charcoal, a velvety mouthfeel and a super-smooth finish.

Flooded Fox Den Búsqueda Aged Dark Rum | 40% ABV | $33/750ml
Its name is a hat tip to Juan Ponce de León’s search for the Fountain of Youth as well as a hint at Flooded Fox Den’s search for the perfect rum. Búsqueda builds on a dulce de leche foundation with smoky campfire and tobacco top notes bestowed by three months in American oak barrels.

Cannon Beach Distillery Il Kêyóte Agave Spirit | 40% ABV | $66/750ml
Distilled using 100 percent Blue Weber agave nectar from Jalisco, Mexico, yet less intense than a tequila or mezcal, Il Kêyóte casts agave as a demure leading flavor in this subtly smooth spirit with tinges of vanilla and fresh-cut sawdust.

This article originally ran in the summer issue of Sip Northwest magazine. For the full story and more like it, click here.