Touristing at Koval Distillery

Blogging is not something anyone does to make bank, but it does have its perks.

I was recently contacted by Vimbly to promote the new Chicago branch of their event booking company. Sort of like Amazon for events, Vimbly partners with companies to provide a storefront for all sorts of fun things to do around Chicago. They asked if I would try out one of the events, and I had originally booked a walking tour in Millennium Park. If I’m honest with you, I wasn’t that sad when Vimbly contacted me to let me know the event had been cancelled. In exchange they offered me my choice of other events as a replacement, plus an additional voucher.

So, you mean, instead of parking downtown and walking around the bean in the cold I get to stay on the North Side and tour the (indoor) KOVAL  Distillery (and you’re giving me money to do another event too)!? Ask me if I was disappointed…

The KOVAL Distiller (currently trying its hand at gin)

The KOVAL tour is something I’ve been wanting to check out for awhile. You know me… I’m into that local sustainable thing, and everything at this Chicago-based whiskey distillery is done locally, and by hand. The only thing they don’t do on site is grow the grain that becomes their whiskey. Oat, wheat, barley and rye, along with all the ingredients needed for flavored liqueurs and brandies are from Illinois or its surrounding states (except the coffee liqueur, because coffee doesn’t grow in Iowa).


A tour of the original distillery – which now appears to be purely for show while operations are out of a bigger facility elsewhere – lasts about an hour, including a generous number of tastings. The story of this family business is a fascinating one, as is the process of making fields of grain into bottles of spirits. Each step is thoroughly explained with tastes along the way, and for the beverage enthusiast this is a not-to-be-missed afternoon for North Side Chicagoans. While you’re at it, you might as well walk up to the Fireside and grab a hot apple cider too (maybe sneaking in a little of the apple brandy you just bought at the distillery…).

My only concern for KOVAL is growth. It’s so good that everyone’s going to want some. I’ve been on a couple of similar brewery tours of craft beers that started as small, family-oriented, DIY businesses and are now huge empires run by machines. For now, everything at KOVAL l is done by hand, but how long can they keep that up? The fact that a guy stands in front of the bottler and pours whiskey into bottles all day long is part of what makes me want to buy it. I want to support that guy. With growth and expansion (and there’s been a lot of that for KOVAL over their five years of existence) comes the inevitable replacement of that guy for a more efficient method. When machines start taking over I start losing interest, but fortunately that’s not the case yet.

So, cheers!1476215_10152094169921079_337646676_n

Koval Distillery is located at 5121 N. Ravenswood in Chicago. $10 Tours + tastings take place each Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, and can be booked in advance online through

A Crafty Fall Give-Away!

Ok, so on occasion I’ve done product reviews at, but this is definitely a first for me.


Zinio 300x250I know what you’re thinking…

“I’m going to get sucked into a rolling payment for something I just wanted for free.”

I thought that too when Zinio first contacted me. My initial reaction was actually:

“Get lost, because I’m not interested in screwing the readers who actually take the time to give a crap about my life and the zillion Starbucks-es I visit.”

But this is totally legit.

Some of my fondest memories as a kid were leafing through my Mom’s Better Homes and Gardens or Country Home magazines and day-dreaming about my future decorating scheme.  Ok, I still do this on a regular basis, but the point is: magazines are neat and Zinio is an online newsstand that hosts magazine subscriptions for your desktop, phone, or tablet.  Sometimes I’m just not that into mobile formats of reading (which is totally weird considering the whole semi-professional blogger thing I have going on), but I also don’t like piles of magazines on my dining room table.  If you’ve ever thought you might like to test out switching to a digital format, here’s your chance!

To kick off my favorite time of the year, Zinio and I are giving away 10 magazine subscriptions FOR FREE.  There are only two strings:

1) Fill out the form below with your full name, email address, and magazine title chosen from (note: it’s an annual subscription, so the number of actual issues depends on the magazine). You don’t have to give me or Zinio ANY payment or personal information other than your email address.

2) In the comments below, tell me what your favorite magazine is and why.

The first 10 people to complete both these steps before Oct 15 win!

That’s it.

Oh, and if one title isn’t enough, or you miss the boat on the giveaway, all home, design, and garden related magazines are 50% off until October 8! For more information, visit