Everything Is Local At Schomaker Distillery
By Leah Williams
photos by Charles Guffey
What started as a side business and an opportunity to drink with friends has steamrolled into an outdoor entertaining destination.
Schomaker Distillery in rural Nashville has grown from in the couple of years since owner Ross Schomaker first started slinging his own whiskey from a shed on his property. In the past few months, the distillery has added outdoor seating, a patio and several food items to the menu for its weekly tasting sessions.
Schomaker, who likened his distillery to a bit of “mad science,” said business had been booming with between 40 and 50 people coming out on Sunday afternoons for testing, but all of that was halted when the pandemic
“We were completely shut down,” he said. “We were not able to do anything.”
The origins of the Lucky Streak started as a dare, and after going through the process and obtaining the equipment to run a legal operation, the products are now distributed through Southern Illinois Beverage and can be found on shelves throughout the region.
Schomaker said each element in the distilling process comes from local products.
“Everything is local, from the grains, to the gas. Nothing is wasted,” he said. “We have also put up solar panels on the shed so the whole process is solar-powered.”
Schomaker said the importance of using supplies from local businesses in the creation of his stellar product.
“That is just what you do,” Schomaker said. “It has to be. We are part of J&R Appliances. You go through local.”
The process of heating and hydraulics is something that Schomaker was familiar with, seeing as how it is part of his family’s business.
“We are heating and cooling,” he said. “It’s no difference than trying to heat and cool your house than it is the distill.”
Through the distilling process, Schomaker said no barrel tastes exactly the same so every sip can be a unique experience. Every barrel is also tasted tested by Schomaker and a few of his loyal friends and customers.
“If they like it, it gets bottled,” he said.
The business started branching out into food sales at first with pizza and has since . New menu items at Schomaker’s Distillery include onion rings, mini tacos, wings and cheese stix.
The bar was moved to the other end of the shed, and a grain bin patio area was constructed for the outdoor seating area.
Ginger Lawler was visiting family when she and her husband stopped by Schomaker Distillery. She said it was her first time visiting the distillery.
“This is a great place that they have here,” she said. “Such a great family, and it is such a great thing that they use all local products.”
Once Illinois entered into Phase Four, Schomaker said that more and more people are coming back to the free tastings.
“We have a pretty crowd coming out again on Sundays,” he said.
Community Profile is a recurring feature series spotlighting people, places and things that make Washington County what it is and what it will be. If you have a story idea that you think would be good for the column, email us at email@example.com.