accountants to get the juice out on the shelves, but we’re proud of the fact we’ve done it our way and not rushed anything out or taken any short cuts,” says Matthew. He says both the bourbon and rye have a classic flavor profile with just a hint of smoke. No release date has yet been set for the malt whiskey. “Those we’ll release when we decide they’re ready,” says Matthew. While whiskey has always been the focus at Blaum Bros., it hasn’t kept the distillers from exploring other categories. In addition to whiskey, Blaum Bros. makes a grain-toglass vodka from wheat and rye, as well as a gin that takes advantage of their 400 liter Hoga still. The smaller size allows them to distill each botanical separately, giving them greater control over the final flavor profile and eliminating what they say is an unpleasant bitterness that can come from over-extracted botanicals. Blaum Bros. is also exploring some smaller-batch projects, including a high-ester rum and, thanks to an employee who loves the stuff, an absinthe. Matthew says experimental projects like these are a way to pursue new ideas and explore other traditions in the world of spirits. “It’s almost like an intellectual curiosity,” Matthew says. The rum and absinthe are sold exclusively via the tasting room, while other products are distributed throughout Illinois as well as Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Colorado. Yet Matthew says the tasting room remains key to his company’s success. Only about 3,400 people live in Galena, but the city sees about 1.5 million tourists each year thanks to its well-preserved historic downtown, nearby ski hill, and golf resort. That means tourist traffic is a big part of Blaum Bros.’ consumer base. “We see more Chicagoans in our distillery in a week than Chicago distilleries do,” says Matthew. “On a good Saturday, we get 300 people through the door.” Illinois’ liberal tasting room laws permit distilleries to serve full cocktails, a right that Blaum Bros. happily exploits with a full bar and extensive cocktail program. As their business continues to grow, Matthew and Mike are planning for a delicious future, laying down more bourbon, rye, and malt as well as experimenting with heritage grains and cask finishing. For a duo whose former day jobs had a lot more to do with bureaucracy than barrel storage, Matthew says it’s an exciting new world. “Being whiskey nerds, this is the dream: to have our own distillery where we can play and make whiskey.”
Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. is located in Galina, IL. For more information visit www.blaumbros.com or call (815) 777-1000.
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