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  • Writer's pictureBrian Tasch

American Dry Vermouth Tasting Guide

Updated: Jan 1, 2022

Ah, American dry vermouth. This is a tricky category. As when considering most American vermouth, plan to toss aside your expectations.

Strict US laws on all things wormwood require pricey thujone testing, so many producers opt for alternative botanicals as bittering agents. American law vaguely states that as long as vermouth generally tastes like vermouth, it can be sold and marketed as such. As one can imagine, this is a point of contention between European and American producers.

Some American producers go out of their way to insist that, even though the origins of the word vermouth translate to "wormwood," vermouth may or may not have ever historically been defined by its wormwood. In an attempt to sidestep the entire debate, many opt to draw attention to their complex wine bases, non-traditional botanicals, and resulting flavor profiles.

I believe many American vermouth producers are certainly making aromatized wines but fall back on the “vermouth” labeling to secure shelf space and distribution in a crowded market. This has turned out to be a double-edged sword. Some American producers (like Vya) make vermouth that fits neatly into marketing expectations – these vermouths have stood the test of time as a result. However, I feel many other producers would find more success by defining their product as a new category of aromatized wine rather than insisting that laws are loose enough to get away with calling their product vermouth.

Americans don't tend to drink vermouth as the Europeans do – Americans are usually using vermouth in bar and cocktail programs. While some American vermouths may adhere to expectations, many do not – these unfortunately have little to offer most beverage programs. And since most American vermouths have such a strong focus on their wine bases, many are exorbitantly expensive for use in bar programs or home use and have inconsistent distribution. As a result of this, I have yet to taste several American vermouths and honestly can't tell if some of them are still on the market.

That said, I highly recommend the more traditional Rockwell Extra Dry and Vya Extra Dry (but would skip the lighter Vya Whisper Dry) and the non-traditional Lo-Fi Dry. I would avoid Gallo Extra Dry, Kedem Dry, and Tribuno Extra Dry at all costs.

If you're new to the world of vermouth, check out my Introduction to Vermouth post to learn some basics, introduce yourself to some of the terminology used, and get a general overview of how these guides are structured (and why). Then join me back here to get into the details!

Channing Daughters Vervino Dry

Origin: USA

ABV: 19.5%

Wine Base: Sauvignon Blanc

Known Botanicals: 30 total, calendula, fennel, sage, nasturtium, lemon balm, rose, basil, black birch, chives, spiked za’tar

Sugar: 4.19 g/l residual sugar, lightly sweetened with honey

Nose: grape, orange, honeysuckle, tarragon, pear, hay

Palate: angelica root, lemon verbena, green apple, grape, underripe peach, fennel, lemon

Finish: hay, tarragon, lemon, dandelion greens, elderflower, angelica root

Additional Notes: Variation 1, Batch 4. Nutty, stemmy, and mineralic. No discernible wormwood bitterness - or cinchona, gentian, or any other common bittering herb for that matter. A delicious aromatized wine, but a bit of a stretch to call it vermouth. Tricky to mix with because of its low sugar content, but a joy to drink neat or iced.

Gallo Extra Dry

Origin: USA

ABV: 16%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: N/A

Sugar: N/A

Nose: grass, green olive, briny melon

Palate: oxidized white wine, green olive, quinine, dirty leaves, hint of licorice sweetness

Finish: green olive, hint of dried oregano, green apple tart rather than bitter

Additional Notes: A thin, wholly uninteresting vermouth. Little other than its green olive brine flavor comes through in cocktails. This is a bottle to avoid, but if you’re stuck with no other option than this or Tribuno, this is the vastly superior American brand. The juice is sourced from E&J Gallo, like most bottom shelf wine products in the USA: Barefoot, Boone's Farm, Carlo Rossi, and just about every other label you can recognize under $10. Funny enough, for all of the subpar brands they claim, Gallo isn’t listed in their portfolio online. We’re left with another mysterious bottle of mystery liquid, which may or may not resemble vermouth at all. Judging by the taste, it’s a lousy approximation at best. The lack of body and assertive flavor make it difficult to mix with.

Kedem Dry

Origin: USA

Producer: Kedem Winery, distributed by Royal Wine Corp.

ABV: 18%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: N/A

Sugar: N/A

Nose: concord grape, raisin, cinchona, lemon, clove, vanilla

Palate: clove, lemon, cinchona, grapefruit

Finish: lemon, toasted oat, rye, sulfur

Additional Notes: Rich straw color, slightly orange-tinged. Produced and bottled in New Jersey. Kosher. Bone dry with vinegar acidity. Not bitter. Savory with lots of grain on the finish. Generally unpleasant from start to finish.

Little City Dry

Origin: USA

Producer: Little City

ABV: 17.5%

Wine Base: Cayuga White

Known Botanicals: 38 total

Sugar Content: N/A

Nose: orange, cinnamon, straw, honeysuckle, white grape, star anise, cinchona, mint, sandalwood, raisin

Palate: grass, green apple, lemon, cinnamon, orange, licorice root, quinine, eucalyptus, melon rind

Finish: green apple, cinnamon, cinchona, grass, mint, orange, sea salt

Additional Notes: Golden straw color. Very light body with trace oiliness. Tart and acidic on the palate rather than bitter. Brings a little bit of dried hay and some farmhouse funk to cocktails. An assertive expression which I found delicious when it was the star of the show, but a little tricky to mix with.

Lo-Fi Dry

Origin: USA

Producer: Lo-Fi Aperitifs

ABV: 16.5%

Wine Base: Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay

Known Botanicals: 7 total, fennel, coriander, cardamom, elderflower, cherry, anise, chamomile

Sugar: N/A

Nose: anise, fennel, green cardamom, coriander, elderflower

Palate: cherry, anise, fennel, licorice

Finish: anise, fennel, chamomile, cherry

Additional Notes: Straw yellow color. Wine is sourced from E&J Gallo, but don’t let that be an indicator of the quality of the product; it’s a great vermouth that makes for an interesting and complex sipper and mixer. The cherry and anise flavors are the stars of the show and impart a perceived sweetness. The flavor profile is so fruity and heavily spiced I would hesitate before simply substituting it in recipes that call for dry vermouth. I found it overpowering, but interesting in a Martini and a Clover Club, and it played wonderfully with rye whiskey in a Scofflaw and an Old Pal.

Rockwell Extra Dry

Origin: USA

ABV: 16.5%

Wine Base: Symphony

Known Botanicals: California sagebrush

Sugar Content: 18-20 g/l

Nose: lemon, oregano, sandalwood, cumin, cinnamon, white grape, sage, mint, grass

Palate: lemon, white pepper, nutmeg, white sage, chicory leaf, coriander, mugwort, oregano, tarragon

Finish: savory, lemon, nutmeg, marjoram, white grape, orange, grass, basil, chicory

Additional Notes: Lot 1 bottling. Very pale straw color. Light, oily body with a dry, warming finish. Bone dry and moreish. Absolutely incredible on its own or in cocktails. Primarily bittered with Artemesia Californica.

Sand Castle Winery Dry

Origin: USA

ABV: 15%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: N/A

Sugar: N/A

Nose: oregano, guava, mineralic, white peach, lavender

Palate: lemon, citrus pith, dandelion, grapefruit

Finish: grapefruit, gentian bitter, drying, bitter, acidic

Additional Notes: Rich, golden color. Only available in Pennsylvania. Very light body, an unexpectedly bitter expression for an American vermouth. Drinks a bit more like a Spanish dry vermouth.

Tribuno Extra Dry (current formula)

Origin: USA

ABV: 16%

Producer: Tribuno

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: N/A

Sugar: N/A

Nose: acetone, white grape, peach candy, guava, mineralic

Palate: white grape, lemon, mint, grass, underripe pineapple, faint cinchona, sea salt

Finish: white grape, lemon, grass, guava, menthol, faint cinchona, stemmy

Additional Notes: When I launched this blog, I found Tribuno Extra Dryso repulsive I performed the tasting twice with two different bottles purchased from two different shops just in case my first bottle had gone "off." Thankfully, along with new packaging, Tribuno seems to have reformulated their Extra Dry for the (incrementally) better. The complete lack of body confirms this is certainly an extra dry expression. Tastes like a watered down white grape juice and tonic water. Leagues better than the bottles I tasted pre-2019 and much more in line with the cloying, synthetic fruit profile of Tribuno's sweet vermouth.

Tribuno Extra Dry (discontinued formula)

Origin: USA

Producer: N/A

ABV: 16%

Wine Base: N/A

Known Botanicals: N/A

Sugar: N/A

Nose: apricot, acetone, burnt rubber, sea salt

Palate: hot dog water, sulfur, beach sediment, sweat, prosciutto

Finish: ocean mud, sulfur, hardboiled egg, grass

Additional Notes: Dirty tap water color, tinged slightly yellow/green. Quite possibly the worst “vermouth” I’ve ever tasted. It hit the market in 1938 when Americans were rinsing their glasses with vermouth to make Martinis so I have to wonder if Tribuno created a vermouth so pungent it could be tasted and smelled in only trace amounts. Seriously, if Tribuno is the only bottle of vermouth you have access to, just drink something else. It is unbearable on its on and ruins every drink you put it in, no matter how little you use. This product is so bad I had to buy a second bottle for the tasting to be sure I didn’t somehow end up with actual poison. Tribuno and its New York-based distributor have no website or online presence to get any information from so I have no idea the wine sourced for the base, the sugar content, or any of the botanicals used. As it's an American vermouth, not even the wormwood is a given. There’s definitely something bitter, but it may just be me after forcing myself to drink this swill.

Vya Extra Dry

Origin: USA

Producer: Quady Winery

ABV: 17%

Wine Base: Variable mix, Orange Muscat, Colombard

Known Botanicals: at least 15 total, lavender, sage, orris, linden, alfalfa, angelica, red clover, thistle, gentian, rose

Sugar: 16 g/l

Nose: tropical fruit, underripe pineapple, floral, sweet citrus

Palate: lavender, sage, green apple, tart stone fruit, bitter root, earthy, lemon oil

Finish: salt, bark, musty, subtle drying bitterness

Additional Notes: Straw colored. Flowers and leaves of the botanicals are used in the maceration – the roots are saved for the sweet vermouth. Worth noting that the grape wine base is variable, though there is always Orange Muscat in the blend. Overall, a delicious product best enjoyed on its own or as the star of the show in a cocktail. The vermouth itself is more delicate, so much of the nuances and subtleties are lost when mixing. There’s clearly very little sugar added, and that means its body is incredibly light – sometimes too light to hold up to heavy spirits.

Vya Whisper Dry

Origin: USA

Producer: Quady Winery

ABV: 17%

Wine Base: Variable mix, Orange Muscat

Known Botanicals: at least 3, linden, elecampane, Balsam evergreen needles

Sugar: 9 g/l

Nose: jasmine, cinnamon, ginger, lemon

Palate: white wine, lemon, ginger, sorrel

Finish: wood, lemon

Additional Notes: Crystalline appearance. Specifically designed for mixing with vodka and consequently doesn’t hold up to spirits with a strong flavor profile when mixed. More often than not, the effect will be that of little more than water in your cocktail. I recommend drinking this one neat, as even ice dilution kills it quite quickly. Worth noting that the grape wine base is variable, though it always uses Orange Muscat in the blend.

Notably missing: Brovo Witty Dry, Imbue Classic Dry, Ransom Dry. Will accept donations of any missing vermouths.

Vermouth Guides

Check the individual regional Vermouth guides for more detailed information on regional styles and recommended bottles:

Dry Vermouth

Sweet White Vermouth

Sweet Red Vermouth

Quinquina and Americano

Please send all updates and corrections to


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