Whiskey business brewing in East Peoria

By Audrey Wise

October 23, 2013 Updated Oct 25, 2013 at 5:54 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill -- A new business is 'brewing' in East Peoria.

For almost three years, the Williams brothers,Jon and Jesse, and their wives, Kristin and Kassi, have been working on a business plan.

Friday they will host a grand opening to J.K. Williams whiskey distillery off High Point Lane in East Peoria.

"We just feel really blessed to have a community that not only has the rich history about distilling, you know, where Peoria was the whiskey capital of the world before prohibition, so it's that everybody's just really happy to have whiskey coming back," said co-owner Kristin Williams.

Not only does the Peoria area have deep roots in the whiskey business, but the Williams family does as well. Just recently they learned about their great-great grandfather.

"Right at about a year we've known about the original J.K. of him being in the backwoods making moonshine and working in the distilling industry in Peoria before prohibition," Co-owner Jesse Williams said.

Right now their production facility can make about 1,000 bottles per month.

They are opening with a few products to taste and buy, with more to come.

"Currently we are selling our JK's original corn whiskey and our apple pie," said Jesse Williams. "Our Young Buck is a 6 month aged product and that will be an aged whiskey, a young bourbon you can call it. Then we'll have a 2 year bourbon, maybe longer, depending on how we like it."

The whiskey recipe is 80 percent corn. Their corn comes from a farm in rural Stark County. Both owners say they are happy to keep things local and support each others family business.

"It's pretty exciting getting to know exactly what's getting made with the corn. Usually when we deliver it goes to an ethanol plant or on a barge and from then on you never know where it's going," said Keith Bush, co-owner of Bush Family Farms.

Kristin Williams said, "We were impressed with how clean it was and the quality of it and we're really, really proud of the taste of the whiskey and the sweetness that comes from the corn."

J.K. Williams will be open every Saturday from 10-4 and Sunday from 12-4 for tours and tastings. They add, it is a family-friendly business and children are welcome.

They hope the community will embrace whiskey once again as they live out their family legacy.

"We think there is a couple of happy Williams boys up there looking down, hopefully really proud of what they see," said Kristin Williams.