Five of the best

Chicago has rein­vented it­self as a liquor city, with a col­lec­tion of out­stand­ing small dis­til­leries – try a tour and a tast­ing

The Observer - - Travel -

1 Few Dis­tillery

A quick train ride from down­town Chicago, res­i­den­tial Evanston was home to the cam­paign for Pro­hi­bi­tion. Here you’ll find Few, which still looks like a refugee of the speakeasy days, a di­lap­i­dated white­washed brick ware­house, pro­duc­ing an out­stand­ing range of small-batch bour­bon and rye. Af­ter a guided tour, sit at one of the bar stools to sam­ple half a dozen spir­its. • Tour and tast­ing $10, fewspir­its.com

2 Maple­wood Brew­ery and Dis­tillery

The red-brick Maple­wood Lounge opened a few months ago, and is run by Chicago’s only mi­cro­brew­ery-meets-dis­tillery. The young own­ers are ex­per­i­ment­ing with half a dozen sin­gle malt va­ri­eties, all in­flu­enced by their beers, plus a clear non-oaked rum and a malty Brew­ers Gin. The whiskies are rich and caramelised. • Tours be­gin in 2019, cock­tails $10, maple­wood­brew.com

3 Ko­val

A pioneer of Chicago’s re­born dis­till­ing scene, Ko­val was founded by Robert and Sonat Bir­necker, who have gained in­ter­na­tional renown for their sig­na­ture range of bour­bon and rye. In the chic Ravenswood sub­urb by Lake Michi­gan, this is a grain-to-bot­tle op­er­a­tion. You can pop in and taste any time, but the or­gan­ised tour is the thing. • Tour and tast­ing $10, ko­val-dis­tillery.com

4 CH Dis­tillery

A pop­u­lar down­town venue, CH has a lively af­ter-work cock­tail bar, with a glass wall look­ing into the dis­tillery, Ca­jun cui­sine and reg­u­lar tours. Its Sci­ence of Al­co­hol Tour goes into the alchemy of dis­til­la­tion. Sam­ple its unique craft vod­kas dis­tilled from or­ganic Illi­nois grain. • Tour and tast­ing $15, chdis­tillery.com

5 Rhine Hall

The fa­ther and daugh­ter team be­hind Rhine Hall spe­cialise in fruit brandies, and cock­tails made with fruit brandies, while the dis­tillery is right be­hind the bar. Dis­till­ing is very much sea­sonal here, with most of the fruits com­ing from the Great Lakes re­gion. • Tour and tast­ing $10, rhine­hall.com

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