WISCONSIN — Wisconsin is well-known for its brewery culture — with a lengthy list of macro- and microbreweries peppered all over the state to prove it. However, it’s also becoming known for a reemerging distillery culture that is slowly rebuilding after Prohibition put a stop to it over 100 years ago.
Visiting a Wisconsin distillery offers the opportunity to learn about our state in a completely different way — one that’s rooted in story, history, and the art and science of producing spirits. Whether your preference is taking a distillery tour or hanging out in a tasting room with a few samples, we’ve assembled a list of distilleries across the state for you to enjoy.
Copper Crow has the distinction of being not only the first Native American-owned distillery in Wisconsin, but the first in the United States — owners Linda and Curt Basina are members of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The distillery and intimate tasting room, nestled among the pine trees, is where you’ll get to sample their Whey Vodka and Gin (a byproduct of Wisconsin’s robust cheesemaking industry), Wheat Vodka, and Navy Strength Dark Rum on their own or in one of their thoughtfully-created craft cocktails.
You can’t talk about Wisconsin distilleries without talking about this Milwaukee trailblazer — which was the first to open in the state since Prohibition was repealed. Great Lakes produces over 30 spirits including vodka, gin, rum, bourbon, absinthe, fruit brandy and more, all made with Wisconsin-grown elements like Door County cherries and Marathon County ginseng. You’ll learn plenty on their in-depth and entertaining distillery tour — afterwards, head to their tasting room and enjoy a lengthy list of hot and cold seasonal drinks, including a “Slush of the Day.”
This Door County spot is intent on pushing the boundaries of what you typically think of when you think of craft spirits — starting with their main ingredient. Many of Hatch’s mainstay spirits (their gin, vodka, Limoncello and Harbor Dog, a spiced honey spirit reminiscent of rum) are distilled from 100% raw honey, with honeybee hives they tend themselves. The beautiful tasting room in downtown Egg Harbor provides a great opportunity to taste their spirits, get a sneak peek at the distillery’s operations, and pick up a souvenir for friends — or yourself.
With a motto of “Farmer Forward, Driftless Pure,” this distillery partners with family farmers for heirloom ingredients and sources water directly from the region’s glacial aquifers. The result of this care and attention to detail are grain-to-glass spirits that have a story as deep and rich as their flavor profiles. Head to their new geothermal-powered distillery and tasting room to learn about the distilling, blending and bottling process for their gin, vodka and light rye whiskey — and be sure to check out their Downtown Toodeloo Rock and Rye, a spirit that blends Wisconsin-made maple syrup, crystalized honey and cranberries.
State Line’s owner John Mleziva learned to distill 3,700 miles northeast of Madison in Edinburgh, Scotland — he was there to learn the art of brewing before distillation captured his imagination. State Line’s approach combines the old-world techniques Mleziva learned in Scotland with modern technology to produce their mainstay vodka, gin and coffee liqueur (featuring Madison’s Kin-Kin Coffee Roasters) as well as sippers like their Aperitivo and aquavit.