Aged for a minimum of 2-4 years, these organic, kosher whiskies are produced by the first craft distillery in Chicago since Prohibition.
"Being a craft distiller allows us to be flexible and bring a new approach to the market," says Sonat Birnecker, the founder of Koval Distillery. "Craft can be different. Different in business model. Different in product. Craft is a way to be creative." Together with her husband, Robert, Birnecker founded Koval Distillery — Chicago's first distillery since Prohibition — in 2008.
Koval Distillery, which is situated just a few feet away from Hollywood Beach in Chicago's North End, is dominated by a custom-made, 2,000 gallon, Kothe Destillationstechnik copper-pot still imported from Germany. "I come from a family that's been distilling for over a hundred years in Austria," explains Robert, who has been distilling spirits himself since he was a child. "My grandfather had a distillery in Austria and I would help him to make different eau de vies and brandies when I was growing up. He taught me the importance of having the right equipment and using fresh, organic ingredients."
Koval Rye Whiskey is made from 100% organic rye grains, which the Birneckers source from a farmers' co-op in the Midwest. After the grains arrive at the distillery, Robert mashes and ferments them, before distilling them through his custom-made, copper-pot still. The still is equipped with an elongated whiskey helmet and a unique bubblecap design, which provide for greater surface area for the whiskey to develop its aromas and flavors of rye, cinnamon and baking spices.
Following distillation, Robert removes the heads and tails of the distillate and matures the hearts in new, charred American oak casks that are made by a bespoke cooperage in Minnesota. The casks lend flavors of cinnamon and baking spices to the rye, and complement its already spicy flavor with hints of vanilla and honey. "This is no ordinary rye, "wrote the Wall Street Journal.
Once the whiskies have matured for a minimum of 2-4 years, each bottle is filled from a single barrel, before being labeled by hand.
"When we got started, we noticed that there was a real vacuum regarding distilling knowledge in the United States," says Robert, "If the majority of product being put out is good, it helps the entire industry. If somebody tries a crappy product that's labeled "craft' from somebody else, they're less likely to try our product. It's important to us that the whole industry grows with us. We don't want it to be a one-hit wonder, something that everyone rushes to and then it kind of dies down again."
Koval, which is a Yiddish term meaning blacksmith, is often used colloquially to refer to the blacksheep of the family.
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80 (40% ABV)
This product is not available in AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI or WY.
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Spicy nose with initial flavors of cinnamon, rye and baking spices. Full-bodied and rich, with spicy notes that lead to a sweet finish with touches of vanilla, honey and caramel.