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Article posted: 8/15/2013 4:21 PM

Distillery proposal still moving through red tape to open in Lake Zurich

Hawthorn Woods residents Fred Robinson, left, Janet Robinson, Nancy Hernandez and Jose Hernandez are the forces behind Copper Fiddle Distillery proposed for Lake Zurich.

Hawthorn Woods residents Fred Robinson, left, Janet Robinson, Nancy Hernandez and Jose Hernandez are the forces behind Copper Fiddle Distillery proposed for Lake Zurich.

 

Courtesy Fred Robinson

Fred Robinson, left, and Jose Hernandez at the building where they plan to open Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich.

Fred Robinson, left, and Jose Hernandez at the building where they plan to open Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich.

 

Courtesy Fred Robinson

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Partners in a craft distillery proposed for Lake Zurich continue to navigate government red tape in an effort to open the business.

Architect Jose Hernandez and golf professional Fred Robinson, both of Hawthorn Woods, intend to open Copper Fiddle Distillery in a 2,100-square-foot storefront on Route 22, just east of Rand Road. Copper Fiddle likely is on pace to be the 11th or so small-scale distillery in Illinois, Hernandez said.

Lake Zurich village board trustees granted final approval for the project early this year. However, that was just the start of what Copple Fiddle must accomplish to open.

It recently cleared its first hurdle with the U.S. Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Federal officials have granted a permit for a distilled spirits plant for beverages that would allow the business to launch.

Hernandez said Copper Fiddle is preparing to proceed through the federal agency's labeling and advertising of distilled spirits process. Images of their product labels must be submitted for approval.

"This is a long process, let me tell you," he said Thursday.

Mandatory labeling requirements include proof and percentage of alcohol by volume. Label prohibitions include statements that disparages a competitor's product.

If federal officials green-light the labels, the business would seek to obtain an Illinois craft distillery license. State law limits the production of distilled spirits to 15,000 gallons per year, and only what is produced on site can be sold there.

Provided the state approval is granted, the last stop for Copper Fiddle would be to gain Lake Zurich village board permission for a liquor license. Hernandez said it's hoped Copper Fiddle opens by year's end.

He said the business has changed the types of spirits it plans to offer on a regular basis. Plans now call for a young, barrel-aged whiskey, clear regular gin and barrel-aged gin, which Hernandez said has strawlike coloring.

"What a barrel gin is, is what gin used to be in the 1800s," he said.

They intend to have limited releases of bourbon, rye and limoncello, a lemon liqueur rooted in Amalfi, Italy.

Robinson, Hernandez, the men's wives and some part-time employees are projected to be the workforce at Copper Fiddle when it opens. Copper Fiddle would join North Shore Distillery on North Herky Drive near Lake Bluff as the second such operation in Lake County.

Hernandez said the Copper Fiddle storefront would host tastings and sell a limited amount of merchandise. He said the spirits initially would be distributed to bars, restaurants and liquor stores in the Lake Zurich and Barrington areas.

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