When you visit Rush Creek Distilling, you’ll probably drive right by some of the fields where local farmers grow the corn, wheat and rye that go into the craft spirits you’re about to enjoy.
Take one of Rush Creek’s popular distillery tours to appreciate everything that happens between the farmer harvesting the grain and the bartender pouring you a glass of whiskey, gin or vodka. The public has learned to appreciate the distinct qualities locally produced beer provides, now it is spirits’ turn.
As with any crafted product, decisions made at every stage of the process affect the characteristics and quality of the final product. The first two decisions in distilling involve barrels and grains. The virgin white oak barrels (burnt on the inside for bourbon and rye) and large containers full of clean, sorted grain fresh off the farm are two of the things that affect the taste of the glass you’re about to raise.
Rushcreekdistilling.com, tells the story of four locals having a few at a tavern talking about a new venture. Something unexpected and seriously fun. It would be a distillery dedicated to genuine craftmanship with a motto of make it right or don’t make it at all. These four guys are Mark Stricker, Jay Nolan, Jeff McCarthy and Todd Stricker.
Jeff is known as “the experimenter” he’s the one responsible for the science behind the spirits at Rush Creek Distilling. The science of making the perfect whiskey starts with mixing grains with water and cooking this mixture for six to seven hours. Then they add yeast to the sugary liquid that results, and the mixture goes into a fermentation tank for five to seven days. At this stage, the mixture is essentially beer. How its refined into liquor is what gives each recipe its distinct personality.
Vodka is highly refined through several more steps than whiskey. For example, because whiskey should keep more of the flavor of the grain. Vodka is distilled to a minimum of 190 proof. Great care is taken to filter and polish each small batch to achieve a very smooth vodka with an excellent mouth feel and clean nose.
When Jeff is satisfied with his batch, it is handed off to be hand-bottled before distribution. Rush Creek Distilling currently distributes in Illinois and Wisconsin so you can keep enjoying their spirits long after your visit.
After taking part in a tour enjoy a variety of live music, food trucks and other fun events happening each weekend. Details on these events can be found on their website and Facebook page. Rush Creek Distilling is open to the public Thursdays through Sundays or by appointment.
Rush Creek Distilling
1501 W. Diggins St. • Harvard