Taste the Family Brandy at Rhine Hall Distillery

Scenes from a pre-opening party at a new father-daughter distillery in the West Loop.

Over the past few months, distilleries have popped up like Starbucks locations in Chicago. (Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration). But still.

A vodka distillery recently shook up the scene and sated our thirst for something new. Then came word of a brandy distillery, and our curiosity immediately leapt off the charts. When we learned of a pre-opening friends-and-family event at Rhine Hall (2010 W. Fulton St., 312-243-4313) on Friday night (a day before the official opening) we packed up the camera and dashed to the West Loop.

The owners, the father-daughter team of Charlie and Jenny Solberg, hosted the bash. The duo has turned a family affinity for apple brandy (imagine those holiday gatherings!) into a business, and you get to drink the result. The Solbergs also enlisted Jenny’s siblings for the project: Her brother engineered the giant stainless steel distilling tanks (which curious patrons can see up-close during distillery tours), and her sister created the artwork adorning the walls.

Oh, you’re wondering about the product? Beyond said apple brandy (which comes in an oaked variety as well), there’s also grappa and oaked grappa—all of which you’ll enjoy straight-up in the tasting room or as hand-crafted cocktails at the brandy bar. Friday night’s samplers were noticeably pleased, and the consensus was that the 80-proof potions go down smoothly.

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