Taste and tour: Where to find craft distilleries in the suburbs

  • North Shore Distillery was started by Sonja and Derek Kassebaum. Four years ago, they opened a tasting room in Green Oaks.

    North Shore Distillery was started by Sonja and Derek Kassebaum. Four years ago, they opened a tasting room in Green Oaks. Courtesy of North Shore Distillery

 
 
Posted1/9/2020 10:00 AM

While the suburbs benefitted mightily from the craft brewery boom, they've also been home to a number of craft distilleries.

In 2004, North Shore Distillery became the first established in the state since prohibition. But, unlike today, patrons weren't allowed to visit and sample spirits on-site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Sonja Kassenbaum, who owns North Shore along with her husband, Derek, said their tasting room opened a few years later after state laws changed. The last decade has brought more distilleries to the area, and North Shore has grown along with other local producers.

"We have always tried to play nice with everyone -- the breweries, distilleries and wineries," Kassenbaum said. "We think it's best to work together."

In Lake County, the tourism board created the Libation Trail, a community of more than 20 breweries, wineries and distilleries. North Shore is one of five craft distilleries on the trail with a tasting room and regular tours. And there are suburban distilleries in Geneva, Harvard, Plainfield and other places.

North Shore boasts one of the more unique spaces. Kassenbaum said four years ago they moved from Lake Bluff into a space in Green Oaks that was initially a custom kitchen gallery space, which they retrofitted.

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"It's really fancy," Kassenbaum said. "The area behind the bar has extremely expensive woodwork that we never would have been able to put in if it wasn't there already."

Most of the distilleries offer tours for patrons to learn about the process and try their products. Here's a look at a few in the suburbs:

Black Dog Distillery

Where: 10038 Clow Creek Road, Unit B, Plainfield

What: Black Dog offers vodka and rum either straight or in flavors such as vanilla, apple or lavender. Tours run between 2 and 6 p.m. Friday and between 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday.

Website: blackdogdistillery.com

Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich produces small-batch bourbon and other spirits.
Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich produces small-batch bourbon and other spirits. - Daily Herald file photo
Copper Fiddle Distillery

Where: 532 W. Route 22, Lake Zurich

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

What: The distillery crafts a bourbon whiskey, two kinds of gin and two varieties of rum. Tours at 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday.

Website: copperfiddledistillery.com

FEW Spirits

Where: 918 Chicago Ave., Evanston

What: Visitors can choose from three kinds of gin and three whiskeys including one bourbon and one rye. Tours are 6 p.m. Thursday; 2 and 6 p.m. Friday; 1, 3:30 and 5 p.m. Saturday; and 1 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Website: fewspirits.com

Fox River Distilling Company

Where: 204 Dearborn Court, Geneva

What: Fox River sells a vodka, a gin and a citrus-flavored vodka under the Herrington brand name. Distillers also make Rev. Mike's White Lightning Moonshine and Bennett Mill Bourbon Whiskey. Tours are available by reservation.

Website: foxriverdistilling.com

Tours at Fox River Distilling in Geneva include a look at the production area.
Tours at Fox River Distilling in Geneva include a look at the production area. - Courtesy of Fox River Distilling Company
North Shore Distillery

Where: 13990 Rockland Road, Green Oaks

What: The distillery offers four varieties of gin, two rums and three kinds of vodka including one infused with citrus and another with vanilla beans. Tours are at 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday or by appointment. Cocktail tours are also offered.

Website: northshoredistillery.com

Rush Creek Distilling

Where: 1501 W. Diggins St., Harvard

What: Rush Creek offers two varieties of whiskey as well as vodka and gin. Tours are 7 p.m. Friday; 3 and 5 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. Sunday. From Monday through Wednesday, tours can be scheduled by appointment for groups of 20 or more. Private tours are available upon request.

Website: rushcreekdistilling.com

28 Mile Vodka & Distillery

Where: 454 Sheridan Road, Highwood

What: 28 Mile's signature vodka is mixed into a variety of cocktails in the Highwood tasting room. Tours are available by appointment.

Website: 28milevodka.com

Whiskey Acres Distilling Co.

Where: 11504 Keslinger Road, DeKalb

What: Whiskey Acres creates rye whiskey, bourbon whiskey and vodka. Tours are at 2, 4 and 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday.

Website: whiskeyacres.com

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