North Shore Distillery

How do you become named the best local distiller by Chicago Magazine in August 2013?  North Shore Distillery, out of Lake Bluff, IL, did it by slow controlled growth, attention to detail and crafting small excellent batches.  As the first artisanal distillery in Illinois, Sonja and Derek Kassebaum put their passion into each of their company’s spirits.  Their Distiller’s Gin No. 6 has received 95 pts Gold Medal/Exceptional Rating by the Beverage Testing Institute in 2008 and 91 pts by American Craft Spirits in 2011.  They were even rated the Best Gin by Chicago Magazine over Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick’s and Tanqueray 10 back in 2007.  They also produce Distiller’s Gin No. 11 which came in with 94 pts by the Beverage Testing Institute in 2008.  North Shore Vodka and Sol Chamomile Citrus Vodka are their answers to small batch Vodkas and have been well received by Time Out Chicago, the New York Times, Cooking Light and 

They also produce Aquavit Private Reserve.  Aquavit is Scandinavian in origin where it has been produced since the 15th century.   Aquavit means water of life and is an important part of the Scandinavian drinking culture.  Aquavit is usually served at important holidays and events like weddings.  In the US you can find Aquavit regionally in areas where there is a large population of Scandinavians.  North Shore Distillery won a Gold Medal in the 2007 San Francisco World Spirits competition and accolades in multiple publications for its warm color and herb flavors that run to cardamom and cumin with lemon grass and pink peppercorn.

In talking with Sonja, she and Derek came to the distillery business through Derek who was looking for a venture that would allow him to follow his passions.  Derek who was a chemical engineer by training and Sonja a human resources lawyer split up the duties based on their strengths.  She runs all the marketing and communications and he runs the day to day operations.  They start with an idea of where they want go in terms of flavor profiles and ingredients.  They use the best and freshest ingredients available sometimes even peeling fruit themselves.  When asked how they decide when a spirit is perfect Sonja said there are three people that have input, all with very different palates, and when they all decide its perfect then its right.  Then they have a tasting room and do marketing events to hear back from their customers.  Sonja and Derek believe in quality over quantity and producing world class spirits for people who value the art of a master distiller.

What is next for them?  They believe in long term slow steady growth by focusing on their core customers, people who have come to count on the quality and taste of North Shore Distillery.  There are areas that they would like to explore next around aged spirits like rum and whiskey.  Whatever they approach they are sure to bring their passion for producing the very best in spirits along.  We can’t wait to see and taste what they do next.

Take a look at their event calendar:

Or stop by for a tour and tasting:

North Shore Distillery, LLC, P.O. Box 279, Lake Bluff, IL 60044
Phone: 847-574-2499

Interested in purchasing take a look at the retailers that carry North Shore's Products: