Fox River Distilling Company

A fair few Fox Valley Folks were spending Black Friday out and about, looking for some bargains and beginning to enjoy the spirits of holiday season. Yvonne and I decided to eschew the potential crowds in the downtown areas in search of a different brand of spirits; we instead opted for a short journey to the far east side of Geneva.

Just off Averill Road -- in a small, light industrial area near the Northern Illinois Food Bank -- is a long, low building with numerous doors that lead to various businesses.

Sign outside Fox River Distilling Company

One of those doors leads to a relatively new venture... Perhaps you may have noticed, in a casual walk down Third Street in Geneva this past summer, a sign on the window of a then yet-to-be-open business called Barrel and Rye. The sign advertised "Coming Soon: Fox River Distilling Company". I was immediately intrigued, of course, and vowed to visit the distillery, which was said (from the "Coming Soon" sign) to be near the Northern Illinois Food Bank. And, of course, I had absolutely no idea where said Food Bank was located.

In the short version of the story, I literally stumbled upon the Food Bank location during the course of an unintended detour from Kautz Road. A bit more looking and the discovery was made: 204 Dearborn Court, Unit 110, Geneva; the cat... er, Fox, was out of the bag.

And so, on Friday the 28th of November, we took the short ride for a tour and tastings at the new -- it just opened in October of this year -- Fox River Distilling Company: the "first legal distillery in Kane County since prohibition"! (Currently, the Distillery offers tours only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, for limited amounts of time)

Fox River Distilling Company

The tour itself -- it's free by the way -- takes about an hour of your time, and the information provided by owners Amy and Mike Orlando is interesting and fun. Speaking of information, this is a craft distillery, meaning it can produce no more than 35,000 gallons of spirits annually. That may sound like a lot, but the math of it will tell you that the still at Fox River Distilling Company would have to pump out more than 95 gallons each and every day of the year. (It takes about five days to produce a single batch at the distillery.) Mike surely would never be able to get much rest since, as well as being the owner and president of the company, he is also the master distiller!

Locally-made oak barrels for Fox River Distilling bourbon

According to a recent Tribune article: "Orlando said his distillery will use traditional distilling methods and local grains to make small batches of gin, vodka, bourbon and seasonal spirits." Which is pretty cool, given the fact that the grains and water to produce the product, as well as the bottles into which the spirits are poured, are all local: made in the good ol' U.S. of A.! There is already product in many of the local restaurants -- including Barrel and Rye -- and liquor stores, with more venues being added to the list all the time.

And I must say Mike has done a great job at his craft... We tasted Geneva's Preservation Gin, which was "heavy on the juniper and evenly balanced with other botanicals", the Herrington Premium Vodka (named after Geneva founder James Clayton Herrington): a triple-distilled product that is clean, light and smooth, and Rev. Mike's Moonshine, a 100-proof, pure corn whiskey -- essentially legal moonshine -- that has a kick like a mule! The law allows for only three small samples per "tasting", but they were enough to make me want more, so I purchased a bottle of Herrington Vodka to take home.

Herrington Vodka, Geneva's Preservation Gin and Rev. Mike's Moonshine

Fox River Distilling Company is a great addition to craft distilling; it's one of about 350 such "small batch" distilleries now in operation in the country. But more importantly, it is an excellent new addition to Geneva. Stop in for a tour and a taste, get your questions answered or listen to a short podcast with me and the owners.

Listen to a podcast with Richard Ross (OntheFox.com) & Mike Orlando (Fox River Distilling Co.)

Part I (6:18) Part II (6:58)

Browse more Local Flavour

 'Isabella' the still at Fox River Distilling Co.

Round Ice Ball Sphere Mold for Bourbon & Whiskey