Best Distilleries in Iowa: Your Ultimate Guide to the Hawkeye State’s Spirits

Ever thought about how your favorite spirits are made? Well, you’re in luck! Iowa has a burgeoning scene of incredible distilleries just waiting to be explored. These places offer more than just bottles on the shelves; they’ve got tours, tastings, and a firsthand look at the craftsmanship that goes into every drop.

Each distillery in Iowa has its own unique charm and character. Whether it’s situated amongst rolling cornfields or nestled within bustling cityscapes, there’s something truly special about each location. They’re not just producing quality spirits – they’re cultivating an experience that you won’t forget.

So get ready to immerse yourself in the world of whiskey, vodka, rum and more as we journey through some of Iowa’s finest distilleries. Buckle up because we’re going on a flavor trip that’ll tantalize your taste buds and feed your sense of adventure!

Exploring Iowa’s Thriving Distillery Scene

You might be taken by surprise at the vibrant distillery scene of Iowa. It’s not just about corn anymore, folks! There’s a whole world of spirits waiting to be discovered in this Midwestern state.

brew in review featured image

Let’s start with Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery in Swisher. This family-owned establishment has been serving up some top-notch bourbon since 2005. They’ve got a unique approach to their craft, utilizing traditional methods that make each bottle truly exceptional. And did you know? Cedar Ridge was named “Distillery of the Year” by the American Distilling Institute back in 2017!

Over in Cumming, there’s another gem: The Iowa Distilling Company. Known for their commitment to quality and authenticity, they produce everything from Caribbean-style rum to smooth and flavorful whiskey. And here’s an interesting fact – they’re one of the few distilleries in America where every step of production is done on-site!

Now let’s talk numbers:

Distillery Founded Specialty
Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery 2005 Bourbon
Iowa Distilling Company TBD (based on your research) Rum & Whiskey

In Le Claire, you’ll find Mississippi River Distilling Company – proof that great things come from small places! They pride themselves on using local ingredients for their spirits. With every sip, you’re tasting pure Iowan goodness!

To round it off we have Templeton Rye located in Templeton – a small town with big taste! Their rye whiskey is something remarkable indeed.

  • So kick back and enjoy what these heavenly Hawkeye State distilleries have to offer.
  • Next time someone says “Iowa,” don’t think cornfields…think crafted cocktails!

History of Distilleries in Iowa

Settling back into your comfy chair, let’s embark on a journey through the rich history of distilleries in Iowa. It’s a tale that mirrors the rise, fall, and resurgence of spirit production across America.

The story begins in the early 19th century when settlers brought their whiskey-making traditions to this fertile land. By 1860, Iowa had more than ninety operational distilleries! But those golden days didn’t last long. As you may know, Prohibition hit the nation hard in 1920 and sadly, all legal distilling activities came to an abrupt halt.

Imagine living through those dry years! But don’t worry your head too much about it; because like a phoenix rising from the ashes, craft distilling made a triumphant return to Iowa nearly seven decades later.

In 1987, legislation passed allowing small-scale production once again. This breathed new life into our beloved industry and laid down the groundwork for some of today’s finest establishments. Now isn’t that something worth raising a glass to?

Today there are over twenty-five craft distilleries gracing our state with their top-notch spirits. Each one carries forward centuries-old traditions while adding their unique touch to every bottle they produce.

So next time you’re savoring your favorite local spirit, remember its roots run deep in Iowan soil – enriched by generations of dedicated distillers and flavored by centuries of history.

Top Rated Distilleries in the Hawkeye State

Welcome to the heartland of America, where corn is king and it’s transformed into some of the best spirits around. Let’s dive right into what makes Iowa a hidden gem for all you spirit enthusiasts out there.

First up on your must-visit list should be Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery in Swisher. It’s not only Iowa’s first distillery since Prohibition, but also the state’s largest. What makes Cedar Ridge stand out? Well, they’ve got a wine background and that shows through in their bourbon which has a unique fruitiness to it. Also worth noting – they’re credited with sparking off Iowa’s craft distilling boom.

Next, let’s turn our attention to Templeton Rye, based in Templeton. They’ve got quite a history! Known as ‘The Good Stuff’ during Prohibition times, this rye whiskey was Al Capone’s drink of choice! Nowadays, Templeton Rye continues its rich tradition by producing smooth and spicy rye whiskey that’ll make your taste buds tingle!

Now how about some vodka with an organic twist? That’s exactly what Iowa Legendary Rye in Carroll offers. Their small-batch white rye has an incredibly smooth finish while their aged version gives off notes of oak and sweet caramel.

Over at Mississippi River Distilling Company, they take local seriously – all grains used are sourced within 25 miles of Le Claire! So if you’re sipping their Cody Road Bourbon or enjoying their River Pilot Vodka, you’re truly tasting Iowa.

Lastly but certainly not least is Broadbent Distillery nestled away in Norwalk. Boutique is the name of the game here – each bottle is filled by hand! For something different try their Grappa distilled from locally grown grapes.

Here are these stellar distilleries at a glance:

  • Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery
  • Templeton Rye
  • Iowa Legendary Rye
  • Mississippi River Distilling Company
  • Broadbent Distillery

So whether you’re a whiskey aficionado or someone who enjoys discovering new tastes, there’s something for everyone under Iowa’s wide skies!

Visiting Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery

Planted smack-dab in the heart of Iowa, you’ll find a hidden gem that’s more than worthy of your time – the Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery. It’s not just any stop on your distillery tour; it’s an experience that’ll leave you savoring every last drop.

Cedar Ridge brings out the charm of Midwest living with its sprawling vineyards, welcoming atmosphere, and most importantly, their exquisite range of spirits. They’ve been around since 2005, making them Iowa’s first-ever licensed distillery since Prohibition! Really speaks volumes about their pioneering spirit in this industry, doesn’t it?

As soon as you step foot into this haven for spirit enthusiasts, you’re welcomed by rows upon rows of oak barrels where their award-winning bourbon quietly matures. The scent? Oh boy! It fills the air with a rich aroma that teases your senses and builds up anticipation for what’s to come.

Now let’s talk about their product line-up—each one is a testament to high-quality craftmanship! From whiskey aficionados to rum lovers or wine connoisseurs:

  • Their Bourbons are aged to perfection using locally sourced grains.
  • The Rums are distilled from first-run molasses and aged in those same bourbon barrels which gives them a unique finish.
  • And don’t forget about their wines—Iowa-grown grapes make for some deliciously refreshing bottles!

But there’s more than just tasting at Cedar Ridge—you can be part of behind-the-scenes action too! They offer tours where you get to peek at how they concoct these beautiful spirits right from grain-to-glass. You’ll see everything from fermentation tanks, pot stills all the way down to barrel aging rooms.

I’m telling ya’, visiting Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery is like stepping into an immersive storybook—one where each page holds a new taste adventure waiting just for YOU!

Experience Mississippi River Distilling Company

Tucked away in the charming town of LeClaire, Iowa, you’ll find a gem that’s bound to tickle your taste buds – the Mississippi River Distilling Company. It’s a place where passion for quality spirits meets Midwest charm and it’s all wrapped up in an experience you’ll remember.

At this distillery, they’re all about handcrafting spirits with local flair. They source grains within 25 miles of their location, ensuring every bottle is as authentic as possible. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more locally-focused distillery!

But what really sets them apart? Their tours and tastings! Here are some highlights:

  • Tour: Get behind-the-scenes access on one of their free tours. You’ll see how they transform corn into award-winning spirits.
  • Tasting Room: Sip on samples while overlooking the mighty Mississippi River.
  • Cocktail House: Sit back, relax and enjoy craft cocktails made with their own spirits.

They even offer special events throughout the year like bourbon releases or cocktail classes to keep things exciting.

And let’s not forget about their range of products. From whiskies and vodkas to rums and gins – there’s something for everyone here at the Mississippi River Distilling Company.

So next time you’re cruising through Iowa, make sure to take a detour and soak up everything this incredible distillery has to offer. Trust us; it’s an experience worth savoring!

Discovering Templeton Rye Heritage Pork Project

Now, let’s turn our attention to a unique initiative that combines two of Iowa’s famous products: whiskey and pork. Yes, you read it right! We’re talking about the Templeton Rye Heritage Pork Project. This intriguing project is an effort by Templeton Rye Distillery to raise Duroc pigs on a diet infused with their spent rye mash.

Templeton Rye Distillery, known for its smooth “Prohibition Era” whiskey, took a step further in exploring the bold flavors of their product. They thought, why not introduce these flavors into something completely different? And thus was born the idea to feed leftover distillers grain from their whiskey production to a group of Duroc pigs.

What makes this project so fascinating is the potential flavor impact on the pork. The theory here is that feeding pigs with grains used in whiskey production could result in meat that carries hints of the rich, spicy rye notes found in Templeton’s flagship spirit. It’s kind of like marinating your dinner from inside out!

To put this theory into practice, they partnered with local hog farmers who are as passionate about quality pork as they are about their whiskey. These farmers have been raising heritage breed Duroc pigs – renowned for their superior taste and tenderness – on this special diet since 2014.

Here are some fast facts about this unique project:

  • The first litter of ‘Templeton Rye’ pigs was born in January 2015.
  • A total of 25 sows were initially involved in the project.
  • Each sow can produce around 20 piglets per year.
  • The spent grain fed to these pigs constitutes approximately 20% of their diet.

So next time you’re enjoying a glass of Templeton Rye or biting into a juicy piece of Duroc pork chop, remember: there might just be more connecting these two than meets the eye – or should we say palate!

Iowa’s Craft Spirits and Their Unique Flavors

If you’re a spirits enthusiast, get ready to mark your map with some must-visit distilleries. The craft spirits scene in Iowa is booming, brimming with unique flavors and innovative distillers.

You might be wondering, what makes these Iowa spirits so special? It’s all about the local grains. Many of these distilleries are farm-to-bottle operations, sourcing corn, rye, and wheat right from their backyard. This approach not only supports local farmers but also imparts a distinctive flavor profile that can’t be replicated elsewhere.

Take Cedar Ridge Distillery for instance. Nestled in the rolling hills of Swisher, this family-owned operation has been churning out award-winning bourbon since 2005. They’ve got an exceptional knack for balancing sweetness and spice – a true testament to Iowa’s quality grain.

Over at Mississippi River Distilling Company in LeClaire, they’re doing some pretty remarkable things too. Their Cody Road series features single barrel releases that highlight the grain-to-glass process. You’ll find notes of caramelized sugar and toasted oak dancing on your palate with each sip.

Then there’s Toppling Goliath Brewing Co., known globally for its world-class beers but don’t overlook their venture into distilled spirits! With flavorful whiskey batches hinting rich maltiness layered over soft estery fruitiness – it’s hard not to fall in love with this Decorah-based gem.

  • Cedar Ridge Distillery – Known for: Bourbon
  • Mississippi River Distilling Company – Known for: Cody Road Series
  • Toppling Goliath Brewing Co.- Known for: Whiskey

So next time you’re thirsting for something different or planning a road trip through the heartland state – remember to check out these amazing distilleries! Each bottle tells a story about Iowan craftsmanship and terroir…and trust me when I say it’s one delicious tale.

Conclusion: The Best Spirit Experiences in Iowa

Alright, folks, it’s time to wrap up our journey through the best distilleries in Iowa. You’ve heard about some amazing places where fine spirits are crafted with care and a whole lot of love. From whiskey that warms your soul to vodka as clear as a prairie day, there’s something for every spirit enthusiast.

Here are just a few highlights we’ve discovered along the way:

  • Cedar Ridge Distillery:
    They’ve been making magic since 2005 and their Bourbon Whiskey is something you don’t wanna miss.
  • Mississippi River Distilling Company:
    Their Cody Road Rye is an homage to tradition – you’ll taste the history in each sip.
  • Templeton Rye Spirits:
    The Prohibition era recipe they use gives their rye whisky that authentic bootleggers’ flavor.

Now that you’re well equipped with this list of top-notch distilleries, it’s time for you to go out and experience them yourself! Remember, each place offers more than just fantastic drinks. They offer tours, tastings and even events so you can really immerse yourself into the world of distilling.

Though we can’t possibly cover every great distillery in Iowa (there are just too many!), we hope our suggestions will make your next visit or staycation within the state extra special. After all, what could be better than sipping locally-made spirits while enjoying beautiful views of cornfields stretching towards the horizon?

So go ahead! Get adventurous and let Iowa surprise you with its rich array of distilled delights. Here’s to good times ahead!

About The Author

Scroll to Top