[Photo courtesy Buffalo Trace]

Do spirits have terroir? Producers say yes, but in a different way than wine. Analyzing a wine’s terroir is familiar: We know that the same grape grown in a different kind of soil, aspect, and latitude will acquire radically divergent flavors, even textures. Producers of spirits, meanwhile, are finding that, for them, terroir can be found not in the field, but in the distillery.

Spirited asked writers Kathleen Willcox and Margarett Waterbury to each explore a different technique for aging spirits—one focused on what nature provides and the other opting for a more controlled environment. The goal isn’t to advocate for one method over the other, but to showcase the diversity of ways producers are making their creations memorable.

Here are their stories:

Turning Up the Heat by Margarett Waterbury

Watering Their Drinks by Kathleen Wilcox