A Tasting Room for Adventurous Spirits

We’re all familiar with craft breweries and all of their crazy flavors. What many people don’t realize is that craft distilleries in our region are just as adventurous.

Rush Creek Distilling, in Harvard, is making a name for itself with inventive whiskeys, gins and vodkas. Flavors like the American Gold whiskey, the coffee-flavored vodka or the barrel rested gin are a hit at bars and liquor stores across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, but for something exceptional, a visit to the Harvard tasting room is in order.

The industrial chic interior is a casual place to discover something new, at the bar or the gift shop, where you’ll find unique creations like the 100% rye or the bourbon-barrel maple syrup.

You might even be the first to try some new, small-batch creation. That’s how the jalapeno-flavored vodka, infused with locally grown peppers, got its start.

“I drank it and I thought, ‘This stuff is great, and not even for the drink it was designed for,’” says Mark Stricker, who owns the distillery with his brother, Todd, and friends Jay Nolan and Jeff McCarthy.

“Last year it was our No. 1 product sold in Wisconsin,” adds Todd. “It started as an experimental run, and now it’s huge.”

Rush Creek’s Harvard tasting room is a casual place to try a drink and relax with friends. Live bands play here on the weekends, and food trucks are a common sight from the outdoor patio.

An event space inside hosts many showers, birthday parties and other social gatherings.

The team is extending operating hours this summer, so that the tasting room is now open Thursday 3-9 p.m., Friday 3-10 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

True to the nature of their craft, the team at Rush Creek Distilling are always working on the next big thing. That’s half the fun of it.

“If craft turns into boring then it’s not craft anymore,” says Todd. “We want to be un-boring.”
Rush Creek Distilling is located at 1501 W. Diggins St., in Harvard.