Rockford, Michigan-based Eastern Kille Distillery quietly opened its new $4.2 million distillery, cocktail bar and restaurant late in December to ensure its staff and the space was ready to operate. In the weeks following that soft opening the distillery has been overwhelmed with support from the community in West Michigan.
“We’ve had over 6000 people through our doors in less than 30 days. We’ve already expanded our days and hours to meet demand,” said co-owner Steve Vander Pol. “We are grateful to our loyal customers from Grand Rapids along with new local customers that have come out to support us since moving to Rockford.”
The new facility includes 8,000 square feet of distillery space, 4,000 square feet of restaurant space and sits on 16 acres of field and forest adjacent to the White Pine Trail, a 92-mile walking, biking, snowmobiling and cross country skiing destination.
Local architect, Mathison I Mathison Architects designed the space with high ceilings for functionality, creating more storage space in production, and to offer an expansive view of the natural setting through a glass curtain wall for customers.
“With our neighbors Third Nature Brewing and direct access to the trails we look forward to making this a new destination and unique experience for visitors from across the state and country,” said Vander Pol.
The restaurant currently seats 100 inside and in the summer will seat another 100 outside. The menu features primarily pizza and small plates. “We look forward to the full summer experience with outdoor space to eat, drink and play with the whole family, including the dog.”
The capacity of the distillery, including a new 1,000-gallon stripping still and a larger mash kettle, allows Eastern Kille to nearly triple the amount of spirit production per year over the previous location. Whiskey remains the focus for the distillery and to celebrate the opening of the new location Eastern Kille is introducing a cask finished series.
Throughout 2024, Eastern Kille will release five unique bourbons all finished in a different European cask. Each whiskey is over five years old between the initial aging and cask finish. Cognac and Vermouth cask finished bourbons are the first releases in this limited series and are available at the distillery now. Oloroso Sherry, Apricot Brandy and Tawny Port cask finished bourbons will be released throughout the rest of this year.
“Good whiskey takes time—and is a distinct product of the climate where it is aged. Michigan’s notoriously fickle weather creates a whiskey profile unique to our state. Our new facility highlights nature’s impact on our whiskey as we continue in our goal to make world class whiskey in West Michigan,” said Vander Pol.
This year Eastern Kille will release its first flavored vodka along with a dry gin variant for summertime cocktails. This fall the distillery will have a cherry rye whiskey available for the first time and will bring back its Steenstra’s Old Fashioned ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail. The Espresso Martini RTD will return this spring and be available year round.
Eastern Kille was named Michigan Distillery of the Year in 2020 and has won multiple double gold, gold, silver and platinum awards for its Straight Rye, Bottled in Bond Bourbon, Barrel Finished Gin, American Dry Gin, Aged Rum and Coffee Liqueur from the San Francisco Spirits Competition, SIP Awards, New York International Spirits Competition, Denver Spirits Competition and San Diego International Wine & Spirits Competition.
Learn more at easternkille.com.