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Micro-boom: U.S. craft distilleries elevating American spirits

(CBS News) The U.S. craft distillery industry has undergone record-level growth in recent years. Craft distilleries, also called micro-distilleries have more than doubled in two years and the sector has grown from just 50 distilleries in operation in 2005 to over 250 operating across 45 states in 2012, according to the American Distilling Institute. 

Sales of whiskey have increased 30 percent over the last decade and Clay Risen, the author of "American Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye," likens the rise of craft spirits to the explosion of craft beer that began in the late 1990s.

Still, Risen insists that unlike beer -- which can be brewed in several weeks -- craft distillers struggle to balance maintaining the unique process behind their high quality product and keeping up with demand.

"If you're making particularly an aged whiskey, you're talking about a couple of years before you even know if you did it right, let alone whether it's good enough to sell," Risen told CBS News' Jeff Glor.

Tennessee-based distiller Darek Bell echoed Risen, saying "unfortunately we're not" able to keep up with demand.

Darek Bell runs the five-year-old Corsair distillery in Nashville, Tennessee, says his unique approach to spirits -- whiskey made from quinoa and pumpkin-spiced moonshine -- has helped to shake up the liquor industry.

"For a long time, all of the products coming out of the bigger boys were ... very much the same," Bell said, "All of a sudden, they're changing quite a bit too and I think that's definitely attributable [to] the craft distillers."

Craft distillers like Bell and New Jersey distiller Brant Braue -- who produces rum out of the first distillery in New Jersey to get a license since the end of prohibition in 1933 -- have already sold more of their product than they've made and the rise of craft spirits has sparked a renewed interest in specialty spirit bars.

Jeff Glor joined Clay Risen for a craft whiskey tasting at New York's Flatiron Room, which boasts more than 700 varieties of whiskey -- click here for a few tips from their tasting.

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