Suburban distillery tours help you get into the spirit
You don't have to limit yourself to the beer list if you want to drink local.
While the brewery scene has boomed, the suburbs also have become home to numerous distilleries making whiskey, gin, vodka and other spirits.
These spots offer tours and tastings so you can learn about the distilling process and then try the final product. If you find a new favorite, you can buy some bottles to take home or look for these local spirits on cocktail menus around town. All tours are $10 unless otherwise stated.
Copper Fiddle Distillery
532 W. Route 22, Lake Zurich, (847) 847-7609, copperfiddledistillery.com/
When: 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday
Learn about the history of Copper Fiddle, which was founded in 2012 after Illinois legalized craft distilling, and how the distillery makes spirits using a handmade copper pot and Midwestern grain. The 45-minute tour includes a chance to taste quarter shots of bourbon, two types of rum and three varieties of gin. Cocktails are also available for purchase.
918 Chicago Ave., Evanston, (847) 920-8628, fewspirits.com/
When: 6 p.m. Thursday and 2, 3:30 and 5 p.m. Saturday
It's a testament to the popularity of craft spirits that Evanston, the home of the Temperance movement, now has its own distillery. Learn about the history of liquor in the city as you walk through FEW's production space. You'll also taste several of the products including limited-edition single-barrel offerings.
Fox River Distilling Company
204 Dearborn Court, Geneva, (630) 402-0027, foxriverdistilling.com/
When: 4 and 5 p.m. Friday and 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday
The 35- to 40-minute tour starts with a lesson on the history of distilling and where the industry is heading today. Visitors can see the production area and learn about Fox River's techniques and what makes craft distilling different from mass production. You'll end in the tasting room, where you can sip white lightning moonshine, single-barrel bourbon, gin, citrus vodka and other spirits poured in a souvenir shot glass.
23320 S. LaGrange Road, Frankfort, (815) 200-1192, frankfortspirits.com/
When: Noon, 1:30 and 3 p.m. Sunday
Get some tips on tasting spirits and learn about how the distillery makes its small-batch bourbon, vodka and aged whiskey using locally sourced ingredients and a gravity-fed filtration system. The hourlong tour also includes samples of cocktails.
Green Oaks' North Shore Distillery offers tours that show what goes into the distilling process.
- Courtesy of North Shore Distillery
North Shore Distillery
13990 Rockland Road, Green Oaks, (847) 574-2499, northshoredistillery.com/
When: 7 p.m. Thursday and 4 p.m. Saturday
A one-hour to 75-minute guided tour of the distilling area will teach you the history of spirits and the distillation process, finishing with a tasting of some bottles selected by the distillery and others picked by attendees. If you're really excited about crafts spirits, come at 3 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month for a more in-depth tour where you'll be able to ask North Shore's master distiller all of your questions and try an expanded list of spirits, including some experimental ones, for $25. The distillery also offers private tours for groups of eight or more that can follow one of the standard formats or be customized to include a signature cocktail or a mixology lesson.
Sample some of the finished product after learning about the whiskey distillation process at Riverside's Quincy Street Distillery.
- Courtesy of Quincy Street Distillery
Quincy Street Distillery
39 E. Quincy St., Riverside (708) 357-7414, quincystreetdistillery.com/
When: 5:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and noon Sunday
You'll get an in-depth explanation of how the distillery makes it whiskeys and learn about its history during an hourlong tour that ends with a tasting in the storefront speakeasy and retail shop. You'll be able to try as many as a dozen spirits from a list that's half whiskey but also includes gin and vodka. Cocktails are available for purchase before or after the tour.