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posted: 10/15/2013 5:26 PM

Craft distillery planned in Geneva

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Fox River Distilling is close to getting permission to start making craft spirits in Geneva.

The city council Monday will vote on amending the zoning in a section of the Geneva Business Park on Dearborn Court to allow craft distilleries. The council gave an informal nod of approval at its committee of the whole meeting this week.

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Under state law, a craft distillery can only produce 35,000 gallons annually, according to Michael Orlando, owner of Fox River Distilling.

Orlando said craft distilling is done in small batches.

"In the days before Prohibition there were thousands of distilleries across America, and people bought locally," he said.

Orlando said he intends to use local ingredients for the vodka, gin, bourbon and other products. "Look around, there is corn everywhere," he said.

The quality of water was a major reason for picking Geneva, he said. The distillery won't have to do any further treatment of the water it uses, reducing its costs. The same was not true in surrounding towns, Orlando said.

"This isn't going to be bathtub gin," Alderman Ron Singer remarked.

The business would be at 204 Dearborn Court. If would offer free tours, and have a tasting area. It would sell the product and related merchandise, such as glassware.

The distillery is awaiting licensure and approval of its product and labels by the Treasury Department's Trade and Tax Bureau, which has been delayed by the partial government shutdown.

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