Agriculture is one of Ohio’s most important industries. It is therefore logical that there are many agricultural distilleries in the State. Even those who live in urban centers make it a point to use local farmers and suppliers.

Our agriculture here is based on corn, apples and things like that, says David Yee, a bartender in Columbus, Ohio, where he runs a bar called Oddfellows Liquor Bar. He also plans to open a bar with a bartender collective called All Due Respect. When I think of the spirits of Ohio, I think of the spirits that come here from Earth.

That could be in the form of apple brandy or cider, local nut liqueurs like Nocino in the watershed, or one of the many bottles of whiskey distilled from local grains.

According to the American Craft Liquor Association, there will be 76 distilleries in the Buckeye State by 2020. That’s the second largest number of distilleries in the Midwest and higher than the 65 distilleries in 2019.

Many are located in the Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland areas, while others are scattered throughout the state. There are also many breweries.

Ohio’s beer scene is one of the best in the country, Yee said. From this thriving scene was born an enthusiasm for spirits. There is undoubtedly a connection between breweries and distilleries.


Ohio’s traditional bathroom culture has made the distillery’s tasting rooms a popular gathering place for locals. This is where the community comes together, Yee says.

In addition to the abundance of whiskey and vodka, you can also find unexpected spirits like baijiu, tequila and limoncello from the eight distilleries listed below. And these are bottles from a small fraction of government manufacturers.

There are a lot of people with big ideas in Ohio, Yee says. The distillery scene is a reflection of this.

Karrakin co-founders Jeff Hunt and Eric Baumann show off their Ora Gin / Photo : Victor Sizemore

The ghosts of Karrikin: This Cincinnati distillery is the proud owner of the largest copper still in Ohio and produces a wide range of spirits, including apple and apricot brandy. But perhaps the most unusual is shifu, inspired by Chinese baijiu, made from sorghum, rice and barley and fermented with sake yeast.

Mid West co-founder Ryan Lang with Straight Wheated bourbon whiskey from the manufacturer / Photo : Rachel Joy Barehl

Ghosts of the Midwest: He’s known for his Midwestern whiskeys, including bourbon and an intriguing black rye pumpernickel, but he’s not insensitive to OYO vodkas either. Visitors can find these spirits mixed with cocktails at the distillery’s popular service bar.

A noble head of fever: This Columbus distillery carries on its Italian heritage. The owner of the distillery and the limoncello recipe, Tony Guilfoy, is six generations old and has roots in the Ozark mountains. The result is a cello collection that includes grapefruit and orange cellos, as well as whiskeys with seasonal flavors like spicy pumpkin and salted caramel.

Northside Distilling: What began in 2013 as a corn whiskey business on the former family farm led to a move north of Cincinnati the following year. Since then, the distillery has expanded its offerings to include white spirits such as vodka, gin, rum and American Agave, its version of tequila, and bourbon.

Robert James Fever: Formerly known as Shamrick and Lace. Media entrepreneur Bob Slattery, who also owns Fifty West Brewing, bought the Cincinnati distillery in 2019. He plans to use it to research new distillation techniques. Slattery installed new equipment, changed the store’s image and reopened in February 2020. Founder/master distiller Terry Shamrick has remained and uses both new and traditional methods to produce spirits, such as whiskey with wine decoction, nicknamed Burwin.

The Seven Brothers Distillers: The Cleveland Distillery, founded by the youngest of the seven brothers, specializes in local ingredients. Offerings include smoked Ohio wheat and corn whiskey, smoked with local hickory wood. There are also seven botanical gins, which are bottled with native juniper plants.

Tom and Lianne Herbruck of Tom’s Foolery, after their photos / photo courtesy of Tom’s Foolery

Silly Tom’s distillery: Since 2008, this distillery, located on Burton Farms in Greater Cleveland, has been producing bourbon, rye, applejack and gin. Some of the fruit and grain is home grown, the rest comes from local farmers. His bottled Bourbon was one of the first craft bourbons to carry the title Bonded.

Filling the catchment / photo courtesy of catchment

Installation Flow Area : The flagship product of this Columbus-based distillery is the delicious citrus-flavored Four Peel gin, but there’s also an apple brandy made from Ohio apples. Nocino, a seasonal black walnut liqueur, is also used to make an unusual bourbon with a nocino finish.

Published on the 26th. February 2021

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