MADE IN KANE: Geneva Craft Distillery Earns Medals and Acclaim

MADE IN KANE: Geneva Craft Distillery Earns Medals and Acclaim

  • “Made in Kane” is a monthly feature on Kane County businesses selected by the Kane County Development and Community Services Department. If you know about a cool company or product that’s “Made in Kane” worthy, please send an email to Kane County Planner Chris Toth at Include a brief description of the company or product, a link to its website and contact information.

You don’t have to go to Kentucky to buy wonderful whiskey or to London to buy great gin.

In fact, some of the best-quality spirits in the world — as judged by international experts — are “made in Kane” in a small distillery at 204 Dearborn Court in Geneva.

Fox River Distilling Company announced a few weeks ago that, for a third year in a row, products made here have earned medals in the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Bennett Mill Single Barrel Straight Bourbon, noted for its exceptionally smooth character, received a Silver Medal, having been judged by a panel of international tasting experts.

Organizers of the San Francisco event say they’ve never seen a three-year-old craft distillery be so successful right out of the gate.

One of Fox River Distilling Company’s secrets to success is its use of local grains in the small batch production of vodka, gin, bourbon and several seasonal spirits. The actual working distillery is located near the Northern Illinois Food Bank in the Geneva Business Park, home to many commercial food companies and businesses.

Fox River Distilling has medaled in the World Spirits Competition every year since it opened in October 2014. It won back-to-back medals for Herrington Geneva’s Gin, and Herrington Premium Vodka. The competition, held annually is in its 17h year and is considered the most prestigious and influential in America. The judging is a blind taste test by 43 spirits experts from across the country, and this year there were more than 2,100 entries from around the world.

Amy Orlando, vice president of the company, said the owners were “humbled and honored” by the award.

“We have always striven to be the best at what we do whether that is exceptional and flavorful spirits, or the experience when guests come for a tour,” she said.
“These medals tell us that it is time to bring on investment and ramp up in order to keep up with the growing demand for our product portfolio.”

Young Company With a Sense of History

Fox River Distilling Company is actually the first legal distillery in Kane County since Prohibition. The company shares some of these fun facts about the history of local distilleries on its website:

  • James Clayton Herrington, credited with founding Geneva, was a skilled distiller and was assumed to sell whisky at his general store in Geneva.
  • In 1842 Hendrick Miller purchased about 27 acres of land on the east side of the Fox River, where he and William A. Miller operated a distillery and malt house.
  • The original Fox River Distilling Co. operated multiple distilleries in Chicago and the suburbs, and on Jan. 20, 1915, the president of the company found himself on a train, having just confessed to forging warehouse receipts for $250,000 and cheating Chicago banks. The company went into receivership and continued to operate, but in 1918, when Prohibition seemed inevitable, the then-owners of the company shut the business down and reluctantly sold the stills to an unnamed buyer.

The reinvented Fox River Distilling Company opened its doors to the public in October of 2014 and has been winning critical acclaim for its products ever since.


Free Tours and First Fridays

Free tours are given to the general public on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons and at other scheduled times for private parties and events. Free samples are given out as permitted by Illinois law to persons 21 and older who have had their ID’s checked.

The company also holds a “First Friday” open house, when the distillery and tasting room are open to the public for extended hours. Local restaurants are invited on a rotating schedule to showcase their recipes and provide samples using Fox River Distilling Company spirits. Other local merchants are invited to display their products at selected times during the year.

About the San Francisco World Spirits Competition

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition was founded in 2000 as a way to determine and award exceptional products in the spirits industry. Now in its 17th year, it is regarded as the largest, most influential international spirits competition in the world, and is judged by a prestigious panel of 43 nationally recognized spirits experts.

Judging is based on a blind, consensual procedure, ensuring competitive integrity as it remains the nation’s most respected spirits competition. One of the most reliable and universally recognized indications of spirits excellence, a San Francisco World Spirits medal has become a recognized affirmation of high quality.

SOURCE: Fox River Distilling Company website and news release