Idaho is more of a vodka state with all the potatoes, but I found at least one distillery producing bourbon. Illinois surprised me with the number of distilleries producing bourbon, but I tried to narrow it down to the best story and facility. I hope you enjoy my thoughts as we continue with Part 8 of The Bourbon Flight’s Bourbon Distilleries Across America series, which explores distilleries throughout the United States. This series will introduce bourbon lovers to both known and unknown distilleries.
This is simply an informative piece, not a review since we have yet to sample the bourbons. We want to inform readers that distilling bourbon is a nationwide love. Tradition and passion run through each bottle of bourbon, from Elmer T. Lee to the unknown distiller.
We cannot highlight every distillery in a state, but we will certainly try to bring the most helpful information to you. We plan on highlighting two states in each Original Pour.
Keep checking back to see when your state is highlighted. We are going in alphabetical order.
Grand Teton Distillery—Driggs, Idaho
Though it is more known for vodka, Grand Teton has carved out a spot for its award-winning Colter’s Run bourbon. One bourbon in particular, Grand Teton Private Stock, was named one of the most underrated bourbons of 2022. Grand Teton Private Stock is an 8-year-old bourbon and has been described as “s’mores on steroids.”
The family-owned and operated distillery was founded in 2011 and is located in Driggs, Idaho, where snowcapped mountains serve as a picturesque backdrop. The establishment offers tours of the facility, where you can buy the premium spirits.
Currently, the tasting room has no food to offer, but the scenery more than makes up for the lack of food.
28 Mile Distilling Co.—Highwood, Illinois
28 Mile Distillery was founded in 2018 but the surroundings are a true throwback to the glitz and the glamour of the ‘20s and ‘30s art deco era. A glass-front enclosure, visible from the street, allows anyone to see the spirits’ production process.
A four-seasons courtyard allows live events to take place all year long while enjoying a cocktail and listening to the dueling pianos on weekends. You can also enjoy food at the Soto Bar. The bar features several cocktails, including my favorite, an Old Fashioned.
Debonair bourbon finished in Spanish sherry and French cognac barrels is the spirit of choice. This high-rye whiskey is perfect for sipping and enjoying the surroundings as you celebrate the night away.
Black Band Distillery—Peoria, Illinois
Founded by Peoria native Chris Ober in 2016, Black Band Distillery is bringing whiskey back to the city. Peoria was once known as the Whiskey Capital of the World, but Prohibition hit and the town lost the title.
The brand’s award-winning bourbon recently took home Double Gold at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirit Competition, a challenging feat for any craft distiller.
The distillery itself features beautiful wood beams cross the ceiling, and a towering still reminds me of an Irish tavern more than an award-winning distillery. A covered patio, long gathering tables and full menu will meet any visitor’s need.
Blaum Bros. Distilling—Galena, Illinois
As they explain, “Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. was founded in 2013 by two brothers who found that the only way they could get along was to drink whiskey with each other.” The fighting has stopped, and the brothers are producing fine spirits.
Tours are offered Monday–Thursday starting at 3 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Leather sofas and a large bar await visitors as they watch how the spirits are made through large glass panes.
The bourbon is top notch, and the environment caters to all who enjoy sitting back and enjoying a bourbon neat while reminiscing about the good old days.
Judson & Moore Distillery—Chicago, Illinois
Judson & Moore Distillery is the product of a third-generation Minnesota-raised silo builder and entrepreneur and a third-generation Tennessee-raised distiller and engineer. Led by the husband-and-wife team, the distillery makes all of its whiskey in house, using a 500-gallon custom Vendome copper still. The distillery produces a bourbon whiskey that is a high rye and perfect for a mixed cocktail.
Located in a former leather tannery along the Chicago River, Judson & Moore Distillery still looks the part. The bar and tasting room are decorated in wood and exposed conduit, giving the room an industrial vibe. It makes an excellent location to watch a game or two with friends or to enjoy live music.
Koval Distillery—Chicago, Illinois
Established in 2008 by the husband-and-wife team of Dr. Robert Birnecker and Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart, Koval Distillery is the first Chicago distillery to open in the city since the mid-1800s. The distillery uses a grain-to-bottle approach, with every step of the process closely monitored and managed by the distillery.
Koval’s bourbon is a single barrel balanced with a 51% corn mash bill and 49% millet. The grain combination provides mango chutney and vanilla notes on the palate, with a peppery caramel finish.
Located on Chicago’s Malt Row, the distillery offers classes, tours and private events. The state-of-the-art production distillery provides a fully immersive experience for craft spirit enthusiasts while the living room-style tasting room allows spirit lovers to stretch out and relax while sipping on a drink.
Quincy Street Distillery—Riverside, Illinois
Quincy Street Distillery is located in a historic brick storefront in Riverside, a suburb of Chicago and one of the first planned suburban communities in the United States.
Tours of the distillery are available, with reservations recommended. On the tour, you will learn how whiskey was made back in the 19th century. The tour is followed by a tasting of eight spirits, including Bourbon Spring.
This bourbon has only been aged around three to four months in a 10-gallon oak barrel, but the authentic bourbon flavor shines through. The distillery recently opened a speakeasy (no password needed) with a retail shop attached to get any souvenirs or bottles you may want.
Rush Creek Distilling—Harvard, Illinois
Rush Creek Distilling began with four friends having a few drinks. Its mantra is: “Make it right or don’t make it at all.”
Located at the last stop of Chicago’s Metra Line, Rush Creek offers tours, tastings, and events that include comedy shows and trivia. The distillery also has live music that sets the stage for the party to continue long into the night. Lofts overlooking the stillhouse are perfect for private parties large or small. With glass garage doors that open up to a spacious patio, you cannot go wrong winding down and looking out at a perfect Midwestern sunset.
Oh, by the way, they also produce some killer bourbons. Illinois corn and a lotta love make this straight bourbon worth a trip.
Stumpy’s Spirits Distillery—Columbia, Illinois
A grow-to-show distillery, Stumpy’s must be doing something right, as it is an eighth-generation family farm. The distillery explains, “Having full control over the grain we grow allows us to do what others can’t. We plant, harvest, mill, mash, ferment and distill our spirits from grain to glass. This ensures that our products remain pure and unbroken from start to finish.”
Its brand, Old Monroe, has several spirits, but the 90-proof single barrel is the superstar. Adam Stumpf, the creator of the delicious bottled-in-bond bourbon, has very little space for his barrels so the distillery doesn’t produce a ton of the spirit.
A tasting room and tour of the custom distillery allows a sneak peek into the process of making whiskey.
Whiskey Acres Distilling Co.—DeKalb, Illinois
A fifth-generation family farm designated as one of two “on-farm” craft whiskey distilleries in the United States, Whiskey Acres was Illinois’ first estate distillery.
Though it is set on a working farm, Whiskey Acres offers more than just a farm atmosphere. There is live music and food available on the gorgeous stone patio and guests can enjoy the distillery’s bottled-in-bond bourbon or something new like its Artisan Series-Blur Popcorn Bourbon.
Tastings are offered Friday through Sunday, and no reservations are required. On the tour, you will learn about the seed-to-spirit process, enjoy a tasting of three products and receive a souvenir shot glass to take home.
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