Liquor.com: The Best Distilleries in Chicago Right Now
WHISKEY ACRES DISTILLING CO. (11504 KESLINGER RD., DEKALB, IL)
The newest player in the Chicago-area distilling scene, Whiskey Acres is also the second official farm distiller in the country. Located approximately an hour outside of the city in DeKalb, this estate distillery uses only the best grains grown on the adjoining Walter Farms, owned by father and son Jim and Jamie Walter, who, along with Nick Nagele, also own Whiskey Acres. Being able to mill corn, wheat and rye they grow on-site an hour before they need to cook a mash in a 60-year-old upcycled grain mill truly makes this a farm-to-still-to-barrel production. And since they grow the grains, they can experiment with different heirloom corn like Oaxacan green or blue hulless for very-small-batch whiskies. It doesn’t hurt that they hired former Maker’s Mark and current WhistlePig master distiller Dave Pickerell to consult when they first started up.
Why here: Whiskey Acres opened its standalone rustic tasting room in July 2015 in a former sleeping porch for farmhands that was renovated and enclosed using timber and stone from a nearby dairy farm. Weekend tours happen every hour, cost $10 and include three sample pours and a souvenir shot glass.
What to buy: Get a bottle of the un-aged corn whiskey, drop in the accompanying charred stave, and watch it age. Come mid-to-late 2016, be on the lookout for the first bourbon and rye releases, which have been barrel-aging for a couple of years.