Trio of new distilleries open in Chicago

Up until recently, there were only a pair of distilleries in Chicago, and one of them was all the way up in Lake Bluff, but over the past few months, a trio of new distilleries has opened up in the city.
March 8, 2014 8:26:42 PM PST
You've seen bartenders whip up cocktails before, but rarely in Chicago have you seen a massive column still directly behind them, the source of the booze. At CH Distillery in the West Loop, the carbon and hydrogen in the name alludes to the science of distilling spirits.

"Today we're making vodka. This is the second distillation of our vodka made from Illinois wheat and rye, ground in Kane County," said co-owner Tremaine Atkinson.

They also make rum, gin and lemoncello, and of the handful of new spots in town, have the most ambitious program, since they're also running a kitchen that turns out snacks to pair with those spirits.

"I think it's just the interest in people having local products and people understanding where things are made and how they're made," he said.

On the West Side, in a hulking industrial complex, Rhine Hall is a father-daughter endeavor, turning Michigan apples into brandy and grappa. They also have a tasting room on-site, but production here takes longer than vodka or rum.

"With apple fermentation, since it's just a fine and delicate sugar that we're fermenting, it takes about three to four weeks," said co-owner Jenny Solberg.

And in Logan Square, the Chicago Distilling Company is doing everything by hand, in relatively small batches. The bottling assembly looks pretty homegrown, and the offerings lean toward whiskey.

"Currently, we are producing rye whiskey, a bourbon whiskey, a wheated bourbon whiskey, vodka and gin," said Co-owner Jay DiPrizio.

Since they're brand new, the whiskeys aren't aged, but they're able to play with them up at the front bar.

"It's an opportunity for us to educate people on the distill that we're making, educate people on creating the cocktail, like you saw before, and just educate people about the distillation industry in general," said DiPrizio.

The great thing about all three distilleries is you can go visit them and ask all kinds of questions of the people who actually produce the spirits as well as assemble them into cocktails. That is my kind of classroom.

Some of the distilleries have limited hours, so just check before you go.

CH Distillery
564 W Randolph St.
(312) 707-8780
http://chdistillery.com/
Produce vodka, rum, gin and lemoncello

Rhine Hall
2010 W. Fulton St.
(312) 243-4313
http://www.rhinehall.com/
They make apple brandy, grappa and an oak-aged apple brandy
Open to public: Thurs., 5 - 9 p.m., Saturday 2 - 7 p.m.; tours at 3 and 4 p.m.

Rhine Hall is currently served at:

  • Farmhouse Chicago & Farmhouse Evanston
  • drumBAR
  • Longman & Eagle
  • Billy Sunday
  • Mott St.
  • BottleFork
  • Charleston
  • Rosewood
  • Girl & The Goat
  • Sportsmans Club

Chicago Distilling Co.
2359 N. Milwaukee Ave.
(872) 206-2774
http://www.chicagodistilling.com/
Producing rye whiskey, a bourbon whiskey, a wheated bourbon whiskey, vodka and gin

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