THORNTON DISTILLING COMPANY
We believe in crafting unique spirits by hand. Starting with limestone-filtered water drawn from the building’s original artesian well, our spirits are created with painstaking attention to detail, each with as much a story to tell as the building itself.
Who We Are
PICKING UP WHERE OUR PREDECESSORS LEFT OFF
In 2014, as the oldest standing brewery in Illinois sat in a blighted state of disrepair, two craft distillers (founders Andrew Howell & Jake Weiss) happened upon its colorful history and discovered the historic limestone-filtered artesian well still flowed. The partners soon invited their good friend, Ari Klafter to join them in Thornton, IL.
At the time, Ari was Assistant Distiller at renowned New England rum distillery, Privateer. Ari had previously graduated with a Master’s degree in Brewing & Distilling Science from the top distilling program in the world at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Scotland. In Scotland, Ari focused on single malt whiskey production, so when he had an opportunity to start laying down whiskey barrels in Thornton he took the copper helm.
A “Dead Drop” is a bygone prohibition-era bootlegging term. Often times barrels of whiskey would be left at a secret location for pick-up at a later date when the coast is clear. Because of our building’s colorful colorful history and long tradition of malt fermentation, we are picking up from where our predecessors left off. And thus Dead Drop Spirits was born.
This shared sense of history and tradition informs our process and our direction. We practice traditional distilling methods, utilizing the best ingredients possible, and never take shortcuts or compromise quality.
To that end, our flagship single malt whiskey will not be ready until 2023. In the interim, we produce the finest whiskey, gin, rum, and small-batch distillates we can. We also plan to release spirits sourced from some of our favorite distilleries across the globe, artfully finished and further matured on our production floor in Thornton, Illinois.
After 4 long years of meticulous building restoration and a few more years of initial spirit production and maturation, Dead Drop Spirits was finally ready and on December 5, 2019, Thornton Distilling Company celebrated its grand opening on the anniversary of Repeal Day, roughly 100 years after Al Capone seized control of the historic Thornton property.