Sure, Milwaukee is known for its plethora of beer choices, but did you know that it also boasts two distilleries? Great Lakes Distillery (GDL), established in 2004, was the first post-Prohibition distillery opened in Milwaukee. GDL, which produces a wide range of spirits, is just a hop, skip and a jump from the MAC conference hotel and offers public tours during specific times every day of the week. If you cannot make it for a tour you can visit the tasting room which is open to the public every day.
If you are able to attend the one-hour tour (at a very reasonable $7 per person) you will get to see the production facilities, learn of GDL’s history, and most importantly, get to try six pours of their products. While there for a tour in September I was able to try:
- Rehorst Vodka
- Rehorst Citrus & Honey Vodka
- Rehorst Gin
- Roaring Dan’s Rum
- Kinnickinnic Whiskey
- Amerique 1912 Absinthe Verte
I found the Rehorst Vodka (named after founder Guy Rehorst) to be smooth and drinkable on its own and would also be great in a mixed drink. The Rehorst Citrus & Honey Vodka was pleasantly tart with undertones of honey, not too sweet or syrupy like much of the flavored vodka swill that’s out there today. Rehorst Gin is unique in that it is made with 9 botanicals including sweet basil and Wisconsin ginseng. This was my favorite spirit out of all I tried as it was a different take on gin. Both the Rum and Whiskey were fine and would be good in mixed drinks. Last of all we tried the Absinthe Verte (they also have an Absinthe Rouge). This was the first and only time I have tried absinthe so I have nothing to compare it to, but would encourage you to give it a try.
If you cannot visit GDL you will be able find their products, especially their excellent quality Rehorst Vodkas at many establishments around Milwaukee.
If you want to try a local flavor beyond beer give Great Lakes Distillery a try!
– Katie Blank, Marquette University
Price range: $-$$
Location: 616 W. Virginia St Milwaukee, WI 53204 (5 minute car ride/ 10 minute bus ride from conference hotel)