Free Image by Peter Holmes from Pixabay

16 of the Best Distillery Tours in Illinois

Don’t presume that all the best brews and spirits only come from Kentucky and Tennessee distilleries. Yes, many of the world’s biggest and award-winning brands hail from the Bluegrass State and surrounding regions. But there are other parts of the country with unique and entertaining distillery tour experiences, too. 

There are more than 2,200 spirit distilleries in the United States. And if you’re traveling through the Midwest, these are the distillery tour pit stops you want to make in Illinois. From Rockford at the northernmost tip of the state to Carbondale at the southernmost end, check out these distillery tour experiences. And if you’re plotting your U.S. distillery tour, these are the iconic Illinois gems to add to your bucket list. 

1. Crystal Rain Distillery – Lake Forest, Illinois

Visit Crystal Rain Distillery in Lake Forest, Illinois, if you want to see and sample Kristone Organic Vodka. This spirit won the silver medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. And it is a next-level experience to visit this distillery. Kristone Vodka offers a meticulously clean taste due to the careful handcrafting and six-time distilling process. Rooted in organic winter wheat, Kristone Vodka is the definition of smooth. Don’t miss a chance to stop and tour here.

2. 28 Mile Vodka Company – Highwood, Illinois

Check out the elevated cocktail experience and tasting room at 28 Mile Vodka Company in Highwood, Illinois. It’s here you’ll find classic and modern cocktail varieties, like 8 Mile Gin and others. Many come for the 8 Mile Gin alone, with its juniper hues, citrus aromatics, and tasteful botanicals. It’s fresh yet acidic and is 90 Proof with 45% ABV. But there is a full suite of spirits to explore, meaning you’re sure to find your new favorite sip.

3. Anvil & Forge Brewing and Distilling Company – Springfield, Illinois

With a passion for craft beer, distilled spirits, and the local community, Anvil & Forge opened its doors in late 2018. Located in historic downtown Springfield, Illinois, the state’s capital, this is a true gem of a tour to experience. The brewing equipment is also manufactured in Illinois by one of the largest copper mills still in existence today. Start browsing all the craft coffees, handcrafted beer, and craft distilled products. Then book your visit!

4. Barnstormer Distillery – Rockford, Illinois

If you find yourself up north, like the northernmost tip of the state, you’ll be near Rockford, Illinois. And Rockford is home to the Barnstormer Distillery. This iconic local hotspot offers a distillery experience like no other. It’s a “Farm Distillery” that spans over 22 acres, where all the fruits, vegetables, herbs, and berries are grown for use in the tasting room and distillery itself. Take a distillery tour that feels more like a nature hike. And learn about “Cold Distilling” as you sip on three-year-old Cucumber Vodka that tastes yesterday fresh!

5. Black Band Distillery – Peoria, Illinois

Explore the historic building at 1000 SW Adams Street in Peoria, Illinois’ “Warehouse District” for some of the best-tasting cocktails in the state. You’ll be escorted by a Black Band Distillery team member who will walk you through the rich history of the area as you sample award-winning spirits. And then end your tour at The Bar at Black Band, the cocktail bar and farm-to-table style restaurant for an elevated ending to your fun and interesting tour.

6. Black Dog Distillery – Plainfield, Illinois

Somewhere in Central Illinois is the quaint town of Plainfield. And at the heart of this Midwestern town is Black Dog Distillery, where handcrafted spirits continue to be produced. There is one master distiller who shares 200-gallon quantities and batches, usually consisting of unique blends and flavors the larger distilleries don’t produce. You’ll find some of the region’s best vodka here. And if you’re an animal lover, you’ll appreciate that portions of the proceeds earned at the distillery are donated to the local animal shelters.

7. Blaum Bros. Distilling – Galena, Illinois

Galena, Illinois, is a beautiful area popular with tourist attractions like shopping and skiing. So, if you find yourself here, you can make a weekend of it, with plenty to do, including a tour of the Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. Galena is also known for its deep distilling roots and with the best grains in the area you can sample:

  • Blaum Bros. Straight Bourbon
  • Blaum Bros. Straight Rye
  • Blaum Bros. Vodka
  • HellFyre Vodka
  • Blaum Bros. Gin
  • Oak Reserve Gin
  • Blaum Bros. Galena Reserve
  • Oldfangled Knotter Bourbon
  • Blaum Bros. Absinthe Verte

Of all the Illinois distilleries to visit, Blaum Bros. Distilling in Galena is almost always on the industry’s “best of” lists and is definitely worth a look.

8. Chicago Distilling Company – Chicago, Illinois

Hit up the Windy City and visit the Chicago Distilling Company. This female-operated and family-owned craft distillery is located in the Logan Square heart of Chicago. Moonshining ancestors started here. And now, the distillery produces award-winning spirits and canned, ready-to-drink cocktails. The tasting room is open for tours and passing guests, as well as special events and celebrations. If you’re visiting Chicago or just passing through, make time to stop here.

9. Grand River Spirits – Carbondale, Illinois

At the southernmost tip of Illinois, you’ll find Carbondale, which is home to the University of Illinois and also the Grand River Spirits. This locally-owned distillery prides itself on being the “taste of Southern Illinois.” And it’s here you’ll sample some of the most flavorful bourbons, ryes, and whiskies. These spirits are distilled using an 80-gallon Kothe craft pot still, with German engineering technology to harness centuries of iconic distilling tradition. And Carbondale is only about an hour’s drive from the Kentucky border, making it a fun little side excursion if you’re planning a distillery-hopping road trip.

10. Old Herald Brewery & Distillery – Collinsville, Illinois

Another family-owned, full-service restaurant experience and local distillery to add to your must-visit list is the Old Herald Brewery & Distillery in Collinsville, Illinois. Here you’ll find the perfect marriage between distilling tradition and modern methods, including finishing techniques and vapor infusions. Their Rum and Agave are both award-winning at the San Francisco World Spirits competition. And beverage industry critics say to keep an eye on these spirits for big wins and incredible flavors to come!

11. Quincy Street Distillery – Quincy, Illinois

On the Missouri side of Central Illinois lies Quincy. And it’s there you’ll find the legendary Quincy Street Distillery. There’s also a storefront Speakeasy Cocktail Bar. Book your distillery tour reservation beforehand and prepare to see how they produce and bottle their spirits. Explore the interesting details behind distilling whiskey, including how the still itself operates, how cuts are made, and barrel storage techniques. This tour lasts approximately one and a half hours and consists of tastings of eight different spirits.

12. Stumpy’s Spirits & Distiller – Columbia, Illinois

For a truly “from grain to glass” experience, you need to explore Stumpy’s Spirits & Distiller in Columbia, Illinois. From tours and tastings to full bottle sales and merchandise, you’ll spend a whole day here. Signature spirits include:

  • Old Monroe Single Barrel Select Bourbon Whiskey (90 Proof – 45% ABV)
  • Old Monroe Distiller’s Select Whiskey (Alcohol Content Varies)
  • Unbroken Vodka (80 Proof – 40% ABV)
  • Unbroken Peach Flavored Vodka (70 Proof – 35% ABV)
  • Unbroken Green Apple Flavored Vodka (70 Proof – 35% ABV)
  • Eighth Gin (80 Proof – 40% ABV)
  • Old Monroe Pecan Pie Flavored Whiskey (60 Proof – 30% ABV)
  • Old Monroe Lemon Drop Flavored Whiskey (60 Proof – 30% ABV)
  • Old Monroe Honey Flavored Whiskey (60 Proof – 30% ABV)
  • Old Monroe White Whiskey (100 Proof – 50% ABV)

13. Wondertucky Distillery – Woodstock, Illinois

Welcome to McHenry County’s first official legal distillery! Wondertucky Distillery in Woodstock, Illinois, brings the talents of master distillers with decades of expertise. This might be the finest craft Bourbon and Corn Whiskey you’ll ever sample. The craft Bourbon undergoes a delicate process of aging in a “richly charred American white oak barrel.” Chocolate and caramel come into the mix, offering a truly distinct flavor. And the Corn Whiskey is single-filtered, preserving its natural hues. You have to experience this McHenry County down-home shine!

14. Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. – DeKalb, Illinois

No reservations are needed for a tour unless your party is more than eight. Located in DeKalb, Illinois, the Whiskey Acres Distilling Co. is another must-experience tasting and tour, too. It’s a one-hour glance into the “Seed to Spirit” process, tasting of three iconic spirits and a souvenir shot glass to take home with you. There’s always something going on here, including live music and food trucks, as well. Enjoy these tasty sips:

  • Bottled in Bond Bourbon
  • Bottled-in-Bond Rye
  • Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Straight Rye Whiskey
  • Artisan Series – Blue Popcorn Bourbon
  • Vodka

And as an insider’s note, be sure to order the Bourbon Slush!

15. Tailwinds Distilling Company – Plainfield, Illinois

Just outside of Chicago, you’ll find “the hangar,” or officially named Tailwinds Distilling Company. It’s Chicagoland’s “premier” micro-distillery, too, with a 5,000-square-foot production facility, onsite tasting room, and storefront shop. Learn about the fermentation process along with distilling, aging, blending, bottling, and packaging firsthand! Don’t let the sprawling size fool you, though. Spirits are distilled in smaller batches for the utmost quality in every sip.

16. Rush Creek Distilling – Harvard, Illinois

At Rush Creek Distilling in Harvard, Illinois, patience is the order of the day. This distillery’s mantra is that the secret to the best-tasting spirits means an “impeccably slow-crafted” process with “no shortcuts.” These spirits offer a full-bodied sipping experience, using pure, deep spring water and select grains grown locally. And there is a host of unique flavors to explore. Which will you try and then take home with you?

  • Natural Home-Grown Vodka
  • Jalapeno-Flavored Vodka
  • Vanilla- Flavored Vodka
  • Coffee-Flavored Vodka
  • Hand-Bottled Botanical Gin
  • Barrel Rested Gin
  • American Gold Whiskey
  • Trophy Whiskey
  • Straight Rye Whiskey
  • Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Making the Most of Your Distillery Tour

Wherever you find yourself in the great Midwest state of Illinois, be on the lookout for these incredible distillery tours and hidden gem spirits. And really, wherever you travel in the United States, you’re probably not far from a great distillery, brewery, or tasting experience. Here are some insightful and useful tips to help you make the most of each tour you go on in any state.

  • Casual and comfortable attire is the way to go.
  • Make sure you eat a little something before sampling.
  • Ask questions and enjoy the history behind the tour. 
  • Don’t overdo it.
  • Remember, distilling can be a creative process, so not all tours will be the same.

Start plotting your course across the country and find some of these local and iconic gems in Illinois as you go. Let Distillery Nearby be your ultimate spirit tour locating guide, too. And you can start checking off your bucket list, all the U.S.-distilled spirits, brews, and cocktails!

Share this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.