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Windmill Rye Whiskey


When our farmer Tracy Doonan had some extra rye at the end of growing season, we decided it would be fun to do a rye spirit as a seasonal. But we weren’t sure exactly how we could tie in another local business to do it. Then we had the idea that we could get someone to mill the grain for us. That’s when our attention shifted 20 miles up river to De Immigrant Windmill, the authentic Dutch windmill in Fulton, Illinois.

The windmill is a beautiful sight to see. The intricate wooden gears that use nature’s power to spin giant millstones is impressive to say the least. The windmill is operated by community volunteers who helped bring the windmill from the Netherlands to Fulton back in 2000.

Over the summer and into the fall, we worked with the millers to arrange for the rye to be milled there. Then we brought the grain back to the distillery for mashing and fermenting. We distilled the whiskey and put it into new, charred barrels. About half of it was then transferred to used Cody Road Bourbon barrels for the last 2 months of aging. The final bottling blended all of the spirit together.

The result is an interesting study in rye grain. Most rye bourbons blend as much as 30-40% corn to take the spicy edge off the grain. But this spirit is 100% rye. It is has a spicy mouth feel, especially on the roof of your mouth and back of your throat. But it is clean and smooth down your throat. We find that letting it sit in the glass for a few minutes is worth the wait. Even without ice, it opens up and evolves in the glass. You’ll find much more fruit and honey mixed in with the spice and pepper of the rye. Nose over the glass once it is empty and you’ll really find the honey.

Our Seasonal Spirits limited release allow us to bring one-of-a-kind expressions to the market and partner with other local companies in the process.  Uniquely local and uniquely flavorful.

Windmill Rye Whiskey bottle

Our difference is our grain to glass approach

We’re surrounded by some of the finest grain fields in the world. It only makes sense to make the finest spirits from that grain as well. We purchase farm fresh grain, directly from the farmers who grow it. 100% of our grains come from within 25 miles of our distillery. Take our tour and you can see the entire process of spirit making from beginning to end. We’re one of a handful of distillers in the U.S. who take the “grain to glass” small batch distillation approach.

What “grain to glass” means is that we handle every step of the process ourselves, taking our fresh grain and make it into your favorite liquors. We sort and clean the grain and then mill it into a flour-like consistency. We cook the grain to make our mash and then add yeast to let it ferment. We distill the fermented mash and then filter it and blend it to proof. From there, it either goes into a barrel or a bottle. We bottle our spirits by hand. The important thing is that it is all done under our watchful eye, under one roof. We don’t outsource anything. It’s not always efficient but we pride ourselves on inefficiencies that result in a premium product. We know you’ll grow to appreciate our “grain to glass” approach once our spirits go from that glass onto your taste-buds!

Where to Buy

Whiskey corner

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Mississippi River Distilling Company

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