Mississippi River Distilling Company Opens December 17 in Le Claire

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

 Mississippi River Distilling Company is proud to open the doors of their new business for visitors and connoisseurs alike.  The first micro-distillery in the Quad Cities area since Prohibition will roll out their first handcrafted product, River Baron Vodka, on Friday, December 17.  Mississippi River Distilling Company will release River Rose Gin in February followed by a bourbon whiskey in late 2011. 

As artisan distillers, everything “from grain to glass” will be done at the Le Claire site.   100% of the grain comes from within 25 miles of the distillery, purchased directly from the farmer who grew it.  The grain is first sorted and cleaned and then milled into a flour-like consistency.  The grain is cooked to make a mash and yeast is then added to let it ferment.  The fermented mash is distilled and then filtered and blended to proof.  From there, it either goes into a barrel or a bottle.  River Baron Vodka is made from a blend of corn from Le Claire and wheat from just across the river in Reynolds, Illinois.  This small batch process ensures that only the sweetest, smoothest portion of each distillation is used. 

Each bottle that leaves the Mississippi River Distilling Company bears the unique stamp of handcrafted approval and is individually numbered to show the batch and bottle number.  According to the American Distilling Institute, Mississippi River Distilling Company is one of only about a dozen micro-distillers in the country and the only in Iowa or Illinois  to use only local grains in their spirits.

The largest eye-catcher in the building is a copper and stainless steel still that was handmade by Kothe Distilling Technologies in Eislingen, Germany.  The still, which has been affectionately named “Rose” by the distillers, consists of a 1,000 liter boiling pot and two tall copper purification columns.  Those columns house rectification plates that allow the purest vodka to be distilled, up to 95% alcohol.  Some or all of those plates can be turned off to make whiskey in a traditional pot still fashion or anything in between.

The building also hosts a retail area featuring River Baron Vodka, along with bar glassware, clothing and other souvenirs.  The retail shop is open from 10 AM to 5 PM Monday through Saturday and from 12 to 5 PM Sundays.  Free tours are offered to the public daily on the hour from 12 to 4 PM or by appointment.  The tour takes visitors through the entire distilling process.  Tours end in the Grand Tasting Room with free samples of products for those patrons over 21 years of age.  The Grand Tasting Room will also feature artwork by a new local artist every two months.  The inaugural exhibit will be from renowned marine artist Michael Blaser’s “NIGHT AND DAY-ON THE RIVER.”  Blaser lives and works in Bettendorf, just a few miles from the distillery.

Distillers, and brothers, Ryan and Garrett Burchett are anxious for the community to get their first taste of River Baron Vodka. “This is really a dream come true,” comments Ryan Burchett.  “We decided to take a chance and now what started as a crazy idea, has grown into an opportunity to create something that these parts haven't seen since Prohibition.  It’s a chance for people in Iowa and Illinois to enjoy truly home grown, handmade spirits.”


Ryan Burchett

Mississippi River Distilling Company

(563) 271-0608

Garrett Burchett

Mississippi River Distilling Company

(515) 778-4029