KOVAL Distillery logo, established 2008 in Chicago.

Koval Distillery

  • USA, Illinois
  • Award: Best World Whisky, Award: Excellence Spirit, Event: World Liqueur Awards 2019
  • https://www.koval-distillery.com/newsite/
Phone Number
  • +13128787988
  • 4241 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60613

Distillery interior with copper stills and American flag.

History of Koval Distillery

The Founding of Koval Distillery

Establishment and Vision: Koval Distillery was established in 2008 in Chicago, marking the city’s first distillery since the era of Prohibition. Founders Dr. Robert Birnecker and Dr. Sonat Birnecker Hart left their academic careers, driven by a desire to infuse Robert’s Austrian distilling heritage into their new venture.

The Name ‘Koval’ and its Significance

Meaning and Heritage: ‘Koval’, meaning ‘smith’ or ‘blacksmith’ in various Eastern European languages, symbolizes forging ahead. It pays homage to both Sonat’s great-grandfather and Robert’s grandfather, reflecting the pioneering spirit and innovation that characterizes the distillery.

Integrating Tradition and Technology

Marrying Old and New: The founders set out to combine centuries-old distilling traditions with modern technologies. This fusion aimed to achieve high levels of consistency and creativity in the spirit production process.

The Grain-to-Bottle Philosophy

Process and Quality Control: Koval adopted a grain-to-bottle approach, overseeing every aspect of production. From sourcing grains to the final bottling process, every step is meticulously managed to ensure the highest quality.

Awards Won by Koval Distillery

  • Bourbon Whiskey
    • Award: Best World Whisky
    • Event: Roma Whisky Festival 2022
  • Dry Gin
    • Award: Excellence Spirit
    • Event: Roma Bar Show 2020
  • Rye Whiskey
    • Award: Excellence Spirit
    • Event: Roma Bar Show
  • Cranberry Gin Liqueur
    • Award: Best American Gin Liqueur
    • Event: World Liqueur Awards 2019
  • Koval Gin Line
    • Award: Best Label Series
    • Event: International Review of Spirits Packaging Competition 2019
  • Barreled Gin
    • Award: Special Prize as the Best American Craft Gin
    • Event: Tokyo Whisky & Spirits Competition 2019
  • Four Grain Whiskey
    • Award: Best World Whisky
    • Event: Roma Whisky Festival 2019

Koval Distillery Tour Information and Experience

The tour begins with a brief history of Koval Distillery, established in 2008, and an introduction to its founders, Robert and Sonat Birnecker, who left their academic careers to follow their passion for craft distilling.

Artisanal Process

Visitors are guided through the entire process of spirit production. Koval takes pride in its grain-to-bottle approach, using only organic and locally sourced grains. The fermentation, distillation, and ageing processes are all meticulously explained.

Equipment Overview

The tour showcases Koval’s state-of-the-art distillery equipment, including their unique custom-built stills. These stills are crucial in Koval’s signature clean, bright flavours.

Product Range Exploration

Koval produces a diverse range of spirits. While whiskey is their flagship product, they also offer a variety of other spirits like gin, vodka, and a selection of liqueurs. The tour provides insight into the creation of each product.

Tasting Session

Perhaps the most anticipated part of the tour is the tasting session. Visitors have the opportunity to sample a selection of Koval’s spirits. This session is both educational and enjoyable, as guides explain the distinct notes and production nuances of each spirit.

Flask & Barrel Review of Koval Distillery

As a whiskey collector, I’ve been on my fair share of distillery tours, but Koval really stands out.

Right from the get-go, the vibe at Koval was welcoming. The staff were super friendly and knowledgeable, which is always a plus. They kicked things off with a bit of history about the distillery, and I was impressed to learn about the founders, Robert and Sonat Birnecker, who ditched their academic careers for distilling. Talk about following your passion!

The tour itself was top-notch. They walked us through the whole process – from how they pick their organic grains to the final bottling. What I particularly liked was their dedication to the craft. You can tell they really care about quality, not just quantity. The stills they use are something else – custom-built and obviously a big part of why their spirits taste so good.

Speaking of taste, the sampling session was the highlight for me. We got to try a range of their products. Their whiskeys are absolutely stellar, with a smoothness and depth of flavour that you don’t find everywhere. They also have an interesting range of liqueurs and gins, which were a nice change of pace.

I also appreciated their commitment to sustainability. It’s cool to see a distillery that’s not just about making great spirits but also about doing it in a way that’s good for the planet.

If I had to nitpick, I’d say I wished the tour was a bit longer. Just when I was getting into the groove of things, it seemed to wrap up. But that’s hardly a dealbreaker.

What To Do Nearby Koval Distillery

CH Distillery and Cocktail Bar: Located in the Pilsen neighborhood, CH Distillery is known for its scientific approach to making spirits like vodka, gin, bourbon, and even the famous Malort. They offer tours on Saturdays and have a tasting room for a more casual visit.

Maplewood Brewery and Distillery: This unique spot in Logan Square is both a brewery and a distillery, known for their malt whiskeys and a variety of spirits. It’s a great place to experience the combination of brewing and distilling under one roof.

Letherbee Distillers: Known for their authentic and individualistic approach, Letherbee Distillers offers a range of spirits including absinthe and a variety of distilled gins. While they don’t have a formal tour or tasting room, their products are available at various retailers and taprooms.

Apologue: For ethical foodies and alcohol connoisseurs, Apologue is a must-visit. They focus on sourcing ingredients from local, community farms and ensure non-GMO products. They don’t have an official tasting room, but you can find their products in several places in Chicago.

FEW Spirits: A bit further out in Evanston, but definitely worth the trip, FEW Spirits offers classics like malt whiskey, rye gin, and bourbon whiskey. They also have a unique Breakfast Gin. They have a tasting room and offer tours.

Quincy Street Distillery: Located in Riverside, this distillery has a charming mid-century American vibe. They offer moonshine, distilled spirits like gin and vodka, and even absinthe. You can find their products in various bars and restaurants in Chicago.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Koval Distillery?

Budweiser Brickhouse Tavern: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. This restaurant is located at 3647 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613. Contact them for reservations are +17733774770.

Golden House Restaurant & Pancake House: This restaurant has a rating of 4.6 stars on Google Maps. Known for its flapjacks and diner eats in a homey setup, it is located at 4744 N Broadway.

Lucy’s: With a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. You can call for reservation at +13126758385 at 4570 N Broadway Ave, Chicago, IL 60640.

What hotels are near Koval Distillery?

Hampton Inn Chicago North-Loyola Station: It has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. This 3-star hotel offers casual accommodation with lake views and a bar. The address of the hotel is 1209 W Albion Ave, Chicago, IL 60626, you can contact them at +13122655800.

Hotel Lincoln: This 4-star hotel also has a rating of 4.4 stars on Google Maps. Known for its funky atmosphere and free rooftop yoga. The address of the hotel is 1816 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614, you can contact them at +13122544700

The Hotel at Midtown: With a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps, this 4-star hotel features a great restaurant.The hotel’s address is 2444 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, you can contact them at +17736877600.