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    By CARLY A. MULLADYMore Content Now

    Illinois has a rich history with home-made liquor, from Al Capones backroad bootlegging to an upswing of present-day distilleries welcoming visitors for a taste.Among them, members of the Illi-

    nois Craft Distillers Association offer up moonshine, spirits and whiskey at Grand River Spirits in Carbondale, J.K. Williams Distilling in East Peoria and Blaum Brothers Distilling Co. in Galena.

    Though only a couple of years old, each of the distilleries is making a mark region-ally, each sparked by different passions.

    Grand River SpiritsKaren Binder, association secretary and

    founder of Grand River Spirits, wanted to utilize local agriculture.

    Theres a huge satisfaction that all of us at the distillery are able to earn by start-ing with corn, water and yeast, and turning it into an award-winning whiskey and bourbon, Binder said. Were very proud to showcase Southern Illinois ingredients by


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    D I S T I L L E R I E S

    O F F E R O L D

    F A M I L Y

    R E C I P E S ,

    F O C U S O N

    I N G R E D I E N T S


    making our products.Grand River was licensed in 2012 and

    has been selling for less than two years. Its products include Red Eye Moonshine, Grand River Whiskey and Grand River Bourbon along with an assortment of fruit whiskeys and moonshines.

    Binder said Grand River offers weekend distillery tours from mill and mash to distill-ing, filtering, and bottling or barreling.

    We like to do good spirit education along the way, Binder said.

    Part of that for Grand River includes PHOTOS COURTESY OF GRANDRIVERSPIRITS.COM

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    JK W



    sharing where the various products come from, such as who provides the apples and apple juice and where the distillery gets its oak barrels.

    The tours end with tastings of signature cocktails such as an Apple Pie Corn Whiskey and Bourbon Mint Julep.

    People in Southern Illinois have mint growing in their backyards, she said. That splash of apple pie corn whiskey adds just a little sweetness.

    J.K. Williams DistillingJ.K. Williams President Jon

    Williams (an Illinois Craft Distillers Association board member) said the distillery focuses on grain-to-bottle production of bourbon, rye, corn and single-malt whiskeys as well as a variety of fruit-flavored whiskeys. The East Peoria facility also offers free tours and tastings on weekends.

    Our guests can grab a cocktail and take a tour, Williams said. On our tours, you learn why craft spirits are


    Our guests can grab a

    cocktail and take a tour.On our tours

    you learn why craft spirits are different

    and how we make our whiskey.

    Jon Williams

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    different and how we make our whiskey.

    Craftsmanship, passion and flavor are the driving forces behind J.K. Williams spirits as can be seen in its logo. Brothers Jon and Jesse Williams and wives Kristin and Kassi, respectively, as fate would have it, had not only the motivation but also the per-fect initials to revive an heirloom moonshine formula.

    One unique feature of our distillery is that we use our great-great-grandfathers corn whiskey recipe, Williams said, referring to the fruit whiskeys base as well as the award-winning J.K.s Young Buck Bourbon.

    We make spirits worthy of our name and that we feel would make our great-great-grandfa-ther proud.

    Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. Blaum Bros. in Galena is

    another family endeavor for CEO and co-owner Matt Blaum (presi-dent of the Illinois Craft Distillers Association), who started the business with his brother Mike.

    We always talked about

    opening a business together at some point, and we share the common bond of a love of good whiskey, Blaum said.

    While their primary focus is whiskey, they have moonshine, gin, vodka and a special Hellfyre Vodka with jalapeno, haba-nero and peppercorn infusion available as they barrel-age the whiskey. They also offer a Knot-ter Bourbon.

    Were one of the only dis-tilleries doing a whiskey inspired by scotch, Blaum said.

    Blaum Bros. offers tours ($10 per adult, unless your birth name is Gus, in which they pick up the tour tab) and tastings seven days a week, with six daily tours on weekends up from just three per day a year ago. The tour ends with a taste flight of three products.

    It also has a whiskey lounge with a cocktail menu that features an old-fashioned made with Knotter Bourbon and a chocolate martini with Hellfyre Vodka.

    These spirited DESTINATIONS across Il-linois offer distinctive drinking experiences

    with take-home opportunities. For those especially taken by the products they taste, many are sold in stores throughout Illinois and even neighboring states, as seen on

    their websites:

    Grand River GrandRiverSpirits

    428 Wood RoadCarbondale, IL618-503-9050

    J.K. Williams High Point Lane

    East Peoria, IL 309-839-0591

    Blaum Bros. Distilling

    BlaumBrosDistilling9380 W. U.S. Highway 20

    Galena, IL815-777-1000



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    By CARLY A. MULLADYMore Content Now

    The likes of Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones and even John Mayer have sung about it. And at least one rock n roll legend did it. So why not get hip to the timely trip and get some kicks on Route 66?

    The highway that once led drivers from Chicago to the West Coast has loads of pit stops for entertainment, education and family fun in Illinois, from its remaining start point at East Adams Street/Jackson Boulevard and South Michigan Avenue in Chicago to its end near St. Louis.












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    Real AmericaThe real kicks happen at all those map points

    in between. Just ask Greg Peerbolte, executive director of the Joliet Area Historical Museum.

    We knew it was more than just a fad when Sir Paul McCartney walked through our doors in 2008, traveling down Route 66 in an old Ford Bronco, Peerbolte said.

    The museum, located where Route 66 and Lincoln Highway (Route 30) would meet, contains a Route 66 Visitors Center as the ceremonial first stop outside of Chicago, he said.

    At the museum, the most common reason I hear for its appeal is that it represents the real America, the rustic and gritty giving way to the scenic and pastoral, over-the-top kitsch, and an overall presence of something larger than life, Peerbolte said.

    From nature to the completely unnatural, many of the sites as you travel downstate exude that grand feel.

    A hidden treasure a few miles south of Joliet is Midewin, the nations first tallgrass prairie preserve, Peerbolte said. Located on the site of a former ammunition plant used to supply the firepower of World War II, the site is now being reclaimed from war to peace.

    Midewin is in the process of reintroducing spe-cies of bison into the prairie.

    Main menAmong those larger-than-life artifacts along

    Route 66 are the muffler men, giant statues with slight changes depending on location. one of which is just south of Joliet in Wilmington. This one, 30 feet high, donning a space suit and holding a rocket is known as the Gemini Giant. He was named after the NASA Gemini Program and stands over the former greasy spoon known as the Launching Pad.

    Other muffler men prototypes and unique photo opportunities are adjusted for different uses down the road, according to Enjoy Illinois.

    Abraham Lincoln with an axe.

    joins Abe in Springfield.

    Davidson T-shirt just outside the Pink Elephant Antique Shop, another recommended stop that has its own giant pink elephant.


    Statue, where the mythican man is holding a giant hot dog instead of an axe, across the street from the Palms Grill Caf, which features a throwback menu to Route 66s golden age.

    from Collinsville could help Bunyons unadorned hot dog.

    Food & funSpeaking of hot dogs, the Illinois Tourism

    Office lists plenty of places to curb highway hunger beginning with Lou Mitchells Restaurant at the start in Chicago.

    In Braidwood, theres the Polk-a-Dot Drive In, which features burgers, fries, shakes, jukeboxes and statues of icons like Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Boop.

    Claiming to be the creator of the corn dog, the Cozy Dog Drive In in Springfield offers its specialty as well as regular diner fare.

    Springfield, too, celebrates Route 66. From Sept. 25-27, the 14th Annual International Route 66 Mother Road Festival hosts people and cars from all over the country.

    Festival spokeswoman Jessica Kirchner said between 70,000 and 80,0