Here's what's behind the surge in American whiskey


We're officially in the "golden years of American whiskey," according to craft distillers.

Surging demand for whiskey in the U.S. has led to a boom in craft distilleries opening up across the country. While America had a strong stake in whiskey production before Prohibition, the latest rise in popularity is relatively new -- The first post-Prohibition whiskey distillery in New York, King's County Distillery, was opened just seven years ago and six others have joined it since.

Experts say the popularity of cocktails, especially whiskey-based drinks started to shift in the late '90s, and as the taste for premium cocktails increased, so did demand for premium whiskey.

And the whiskey boom is getting hotter each year. Whiskey suppliers' gross revenues reached $8.1 billion in 2015 and are estimated to have grown further in 2016. It's not just stateside, either. Exports to overseas markets have more than doubled in the past decade, from $743 million in 2005 to approximately $1.56 billion in 2015.

Craft distilleries are cropping up across the country to fill the void left by larger, more established producers. Since premium whiskey can take 20 years or more to mature, it can be difficult for distilleries to forecast demand.

And premium is key.

"Whiskey in particular, the highest-priced products are flying off the shelves the fastest," Distilled Spirits Council spokesman Frank Coleman told The Associated Press.