Back November 25, 2019
Travel Blog

Kennay Farms Distilling | Quench your thirst

IMG 8044

Illinois’ Largest Craft Distillery

Rochelle is a thriving community offering an experience for all tastes – from relaxation to exhilaration – all with that hometown feel. It’s a community full of small-town business owners, eclectic shops and a historic feel. As I drove through, I admired their small town main street as well as the preservation of the majority of storefronts. Following a two-year renovation of the Historical Hub Theater in the heart of the community is Illinois’s largest craft distillery – Kennay Farms Distilling.

blog kennay2

It was the historic Hub Theater

The Distillery is located inside the historic Hub Theater. Opening its doors in 1931, the art-deco style Hub Theater boasted nearly 950 seats and ran as a first-run movie house until early 2011. When the Kennay family found out that the property was for sale, they immediately envisioned the space for their facility. The tall ceilings, art-deco style balconies, moldings, and original historic character made it the perfect space to start renovations.

Doris greeted me at the front doors and welcomed me to the distillery. As I browsed their selection of vodka, gin, and relics from the old theater and other merchandise, we talked briefly about the theater and her family. At the top of the steps I found an unexpected view–a tasting room featuring large windows that overlook the production floor. The old theater balconies and art-deco style moldings are still in place at the top corners. The exposed brick is all original and absolutely beautiful. The tasting room features a mix of vintage, modern and industrial accents. A room separated by windows and double doors is set up for events and meetings and features hand-crafted woodwork and upscale modern lighting. The Kennays have preserved touches of the theater that enable you to enjoy their renovations and experience it in a whole new way.

70666783 669790210209005 4141626269064232960 o

About the Kennays

Rick and Doris Kennay are the founders of Kennay Farms Distilling. They spent a lifetime building their family farm and instilling a love for agriculture in their children Kaleb, Aubrey, and Grace. The Kennay Family Farm is in its fifth generation of operation. It is located just outside of Rochelle in Ashton. Their family history is displayed on the production floor and dates all the way back to the 1880s. The very first plaques show that their family immigrated from Germany and traveled from New York to Illinois by covered wagon where they settled near Franklin Grove to farm and work the railroad.

Turning grain into spirits is a delicate balance of science and art. Kennay Farms Distilling brings you family-crafted spirits created from local grain that is produced, milled and distilled by members of the Kennay family. They know that superior product takes care, heart, and hard work. The house-made vodka uses corn from their farm. Their gin, with hints of coriander, lemongrass, juniper, and orange peel, is available in the tasting room and may be purchased by the bottle. The production floor also features a brewery where recipes are created for ales, lagers, stouts, and IPA’s as well as premium and seasonal beers.

IMG 3320

After my tour, I was able to sample some of the beer on tap and view the vodka/gin menu for mixed drinks. I sampled some of the best and creative beers I’ve ever had. I sampled a lavender beer that was incredible. I also sampled a few stouts, IPAs, and are you ready for this one–a waffle beer. Yup, a delicious beer that tasted just like waffles. I may or may not have taken a growler of it home–full confession, I did! The mixed drink menu features premium cocktails with names such as Cranberry Harvest, Hayride, County Line, Uncle Collin, Lone Tree, and many more. All premium drinks feature their vodka and gin. Located just behind the distillery is the Rickhouse where they hold bourbon and whiskey in barrels while they age over the next three to five years.

IMG 3340

The logo represents the strong women of the Kennay family

Speaking of hard work, their logo features a female carrying a barrel over her head. When I asked Doris about the logo she explained the generations of strong female figures in their family. The females in their family have always worked side-by-side with the men on the farm and are important assets to the success of Kennay Farms.

Tours and Event Space

They offer VIP tours as well as event space.

VIP Tour: They offer a VIP experience the first Saturday of each month with a 60-minute tour guided by their Head Distiller, Adam Kennay.  The tour begins on the production floor of the distillery with a timeline of the business and an overview of the distillation and brewing processes. The tour proceeds to the Rickhouse where they bottle the clear spirits for retail and barrel the dark spirits for 2.5-5 years. It concludes with an overview of the brewhouse and a taste of their house vodka.  

Cost: $20. The tour price includes a complimentary standard beverage to enjoy on the tour AND a tasting of our house vodka.

Available: First Saturday of each month – 4:30 pm

To ensure that everyone has a safe and wonderful experience they ask that visitors pre-register for the tour following the links listed below. Walk-in guests can pay at the door as long as space is available. *Request a private group tour with a minimum of 6 guests any day by using the Event Inquiry form on the EVENTS page or calling 815-901-1512.

IMG 1571

Kennay Farms Distilling
416 Lincoln Hwy
Rochelle, IL 61068
(815) 762 – 0307


General Inquiries:
Event Inquiries:

This Father's Day, create special moments in NW Illinois. 𝗦𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗲 your adventures with us using #𝗙𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗗𝗮𝘆𝗜𝗻𝗡𝗪𝗜𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗼𝗶𝘀!"

#VisitNWillinois #middleofeverything #enjoyillinois
Nothing beats freshly brewed coffee, locally made macaroons, or an iced drink on a hot Friday morning! ☕️✨ Check out @CoffeeCrushDixon for a cozy start to your day. 👉👉 𝗕𝗢𝗡𝗨𝗦: The annual nesting of Mama Duck on the property provided 16 ducklings this year! 

#LocalSpotlight #CoffeeLove #VisitNWillinois #middleofeverything #enjoyillinois #leecountyIL #discoverdixon #SupportLocal #CaféCulture #MorningBoost #NWILCoffee @discoverdixon @visitleecountyil @thenoblecakery
Here's a sneak peek of what's coming up this weekend in #NWillinois! Lots of art and music, plus a carnival to keep everyone happy. Go to our EVENTS CALENDAR at bio link for a complete listing of things to do.

#VisitNWillinois #middleofeverything @enjoyillinois #enjoyillinois @visitleecountyil @discoverdixon
Bring the kids to #FultonIL to see the amazing De Immigrant Windmill and explore Wierenga’s Heritage Canyon. History and heritage, NW Illinois has it all. 🌾🪨

 #VisitNWIllinois @VisitFulton @enjoyillinois #middleofeverything
It's #roadtrip adventure in 𝗪𝗵𝗶𝘁𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝘆! 🚗 Whether it's an invigorating paddle on the 𝗛𝗲𝗻𝗻𝗲𝗽𝗶𝗻 𝗖𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗹 🛶, finding antique treasures at 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘄𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗲 𝗔𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀 & 𝗧𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘀𝘂𝗿𝗲𝘀🏺, hitting the 𝗚𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗥𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗕𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗹 all around #FultonIL 🚴‍♂️, or avoiding singed eyebrows when ordering the Forest Inn Restaurant & Lounge's Saganaki 🔥. #OPA! 🎉

#visitNWillinois #enjoyillinois #middleofeverything @visitrockfalls  @sterlingmainstreet  @visitfulton @enjoyillinois #whitesidecountyIL #paddling #SterlingIL #RockfallsIL
Let's show some #MidweekLove 🥰 in NW Illinois!  This week, tap into the beauty of art at the "𝗪𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗢𝗽𝗲𝗻 𝗦𝗽𝗮𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝗔𝗿𝘁 𝗘𝘅𝗵𝗶𝗯𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻" opening June 11, or groove to the timeless tunes of 𝗙𝗼𝗿𝘁𝘂𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗦𝗼𝗻𝘀, the ultimate CCR tribute band on June 12. Then, dive into the hometown charm of 𝗣𝗼𝗹𝗼 𝗧𝗼𝘄𝗻 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝗿𝘆 𝗗𝗮𝘆𝘀  June 12-16, and wrap up with soulful beats at the 𝗦𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗲𝗿 𝗦𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱𝘀 𝗖��𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗿𝘁 𝗦𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀  in Dixon on June 13. Don't miss out on these midweek gems! READ ABOUT the events 
 at EVENTS link found at bio link. 

#VisitNWIllinois #MidweekEvents #middleofeverything #enjoyillinois @whitepines_resort  @tnps_dixon #DixonMunicipalBand  #PoloTownandCountryDays @enjoyillinois
Watch our latest reel for a sneak peek of the 𝟴 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗮𝗰𝘂𝗹𝗮𝗿 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘀 occurring on Sat., June 8. 🎶🍔 Whether you're into music, food, or outdoor fun, there's an event with your name on it!! 

#VisitNWIllinois #middleofeverything #enjoyillinois #LocalFun #SummerVibes @visitrockfalls @discoverdixon @visitleecountyil @visitcarrollcounty @explore_oregon_il @johndeere @enjoyillinois
Ready to soak up some sunshine & good vibes? Check out our latest blog on the amazing 𝗙𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗮𝗹𝘀 & 𝗙𝗮𝗶𝗿𝘀 happening this summer in NW Illinois! From toe-tapping music festivals to mouth-watering food fairs, here's a guide to making your summer unforgettable. 

#VisitNWIllinois #SummerFun #FestivalsAndFairs #LocalEvents #GoodTimes #ExploreLocal #middleofeverything @enjoyillinois #roadtrip #carnivals #kidfriendly


Request a free copy or view our latest guide online.


Ideas and resources to help plan your next real getaway in NW Illinois.