When most people think of the great beverage producing regions in the world, Southern Illinois might not be the first region that comes to mind. However, Southern Illinois has a rich history of spirit distilling and wine production. The first brewery in Southern Illinois can be traced to Murphysboro before the passing of Prohibition. With the convergence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, there were always opportunities for moonshiners, rum runners, and even local gangsters to move their products to other states.
Grand River Spirits origins began near the waters of the Mighty Mississippi River. Glaciers stopped short of our region, leaving Southern Illinois with rich, rolling lands. As the glaciers retreated, the Mississippi was carved from the countryside, leaving Southern Illinois with rocky hillsides and rolling valleys.
It’s here where settlers found land perfect for peaches and apples and fertile fields ideal for growing corn, wheat and beans. River trade and farming built Southern Illinois into a Midwestern agricultural hub. Our region’s offerings were so vital that our farmers helped the Chicago area overcome a 1930’s food shortage by sharing its abundance, thus earning the nickname “Little Egypt” after the legendary cradle of farming in the Nile River valley.
These agricultural roots remain today. Orchards, farms and vineyards surround Grand River Spirits. We tap local providers for our ingredients. While Southern Illinois has not seen legal distilling since Prohibition (as well as its share of illicit booze from our local gangster moonshiner, Charlie Birger), Grand River Spirits is producing its spirits with the Midwest’s cream of the crop, grown right here in our backyard.
Now Southern Illinois is experiencing a great boom in production of wine, spirits, and craft brews. With an abundance of freshly grown wheats, barleys, fruits, and yeasts, Southern Illinois is quickly making a name for itself as one of the premiere regions to develop and cultivate distilling, vintnering, and brewing. Southern Illinois ecology allows for the perfect combination of temperature, humidity, and composition to allow for the very best in grape growth, along with barley and wheats, the heart of our moonshine and whiskeys. Our regions’ ideal ecology means we can provide our customers with products made from locally grown ingredients, that are distilled and bottled right here in Southern Illinois.