Chicago Distilling Company in Pictures
Vic DiPrizio is a no-nonsense sort of guy. There are many demands put on his time and on the real estate confined inside his distillery and, essentially, he has to get things done. More and more people are counting on him as his business (along with brother Jay and sister-in-law Noelle) grows. You can sense it in everything about him, down to his body language. I don’t mean that he’s uncaring or curt, he’s merely to the point. I like that about Vic.
Despite this, he gives tours. And he seems to enjoy it for some reason.
Chicago Distilling Company is located within the hip-but-restrained Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. As an AirBnB host, I arrived at the tour by way of AirBnB “Experiences,” in which locals show you something cool. Think tapas in Spain or sailing in Key West. Distilling in Chicago seemed about right. I recalled walking by the place on a trip three years prior, when their cocktail tasting room wasn’t open much, and hoping for a future visit.
To a certain degree, a tour is a tour. By that I mean I can only talk shop — the numbers and capacity stuff — for so long. We did a little of that, but mostly we reflected on the booming nature of the spirits industry in the Midwest. I took no notes (#vacation). I enjoyed the authenticity of the place.
A whiskey run is underway in the combination pot still. Liquid starts dribbling out just as we creep over puddles and hoses to examine the copper device. I let the slippery heads run over my fingers and unceremoniously lick them. The cuts (what is discarded versus what is desired) are key — this is the stuff you don’t want in a bottle. Vic uses it as a cleaner around the facility, he tells me, matter-of-factly. I make a mental note that I just consumed a cleaning product and picture one of those cautionary green and black Mr. Yuck stickers.
We examine the racks of barrels, the (very) manual bottling operation, and the finished products. I am happy to hear that Vic knows the limitations of his still (vodka and gin will never be their wheelhouse, though they sell well) and plays to its strengths. The recent surge in product fulfillment, he explains, is canned cocktails. They aren’t mixers or concentrates. These are ready-to-drink canned beverages experiencing a high demand. An extremely high demand that I’m shocked to hear the 1700 square foot space can support.
These are the equivalent of a bar’s pre-bottled cocktails but for home enjoyment. Just think: boating, kickball league, when laziness sets in and you’re out of patience for hand-squeezed limes. They’re so popular you can even find them in Minnesota, despite Chicago Distilling Company’s limited distribution.
Vic’s true passion project, though, if I’m any good at reading a person, is his single malt, beer-inspired whiskeys. He actually beamed (not pictured) while we sipped each one in awe. These beauties are something else. Each is based on a beer recipe (minus the hops, of course) and treated as a unique product onto itself. I was blown away by the malt depth, and how different they were from one another. While some producers would say, with few exceptions, malted barley is malted barley, these single malt examples really provide a counterexample.
The cocktail room is open with limited hours Thursday through Saturday and some Fridays. I highly recommend the tour, which includes a tasting. Thanks to Chicago Distilling Company for their sincere hospitality.