Made In Chicago: Koval Distillery

CHICAGO (WBBM) – Inside a 3,600-square-foot loft in Ravenswood, the sounds, smells, and tastes of something unique in Chicago.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding Reports

“Oh yeah, we’re the only distillery in Chicago,” said Koval Distillery owner Sonat Birnecker-Hart.

Koval Distillery, 5121 N. Ravenswood, opened its doors two years ago. Since then, the small company has grown by leaps and bounds.

“Whether we’re making whiskey or whether we are making brandy, or a liqueur, we try to make a product that is top quality.”

Birnecker-Hart says she and her husband had a little help when they decided to open Chicago’s only distillery.

“Robert actually comes from a distilling family. His grandmother makes liqueurs, his grandfather makes brandys.”

A giant copper still and wooden barrels from floor to ceiling make up their office.

“Most of our stuff we do is grain. I’ll put some yeast in there,” said distiller Mark DiSimone. He oversees every step of the process, from the mashing to the bottling, to the labeling he says distilling is really an art form. “It’ll come out as pure alcohol.”

The result is, for the first time since before Prohibition, a whiskey legally distilled and bottled in Chicago.

Koval’s newest product is Lion’s Pride. “We thought it was time that Chicago had it’s own Whiskey, so we made up for lost time,” Birnecker-Hart laughed.

Koval now bottles more than a dozen spirits. From brandy, to vodka to whiskey to liqueurs, Birnecker-Hart says they’ve found their niche.

“We distill differently than most people.” A taste of Europe in Ravenswood. “We’re the only distillery in the U.S. that makes this wide array of products.”

Koval products can be found in a variety of restaurants, bars and retail outlets in six states. Lion’s Pride Organic Whiskey hit local stores on Nov. 6.

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