Boone County Jail Distillery

This jailhouse distillery is full of spirits, from moonshine distilled on the premises to an ethereal presence who’s heard too many last calls to count.
Photography by Tony Valainis

THE BARS and cells not only remain intact inside this jailhouse decommissioned in the 1990s, but they have been transformed into booths where customers sip booze and play board games. (For a bit more fun, they can dress in the orange jumpsuits the distillery keeps upstairs and take mugshot selfies.) Although the bourbon currently for sale here has been outsourced from a corporate distillery in Southern Indiana, handcrafted whiskey offerings should be ready for public consumption later this year. In the meantime, the inventory of hard stuff includes gin, vodka, absinthe, and moonshine distilled on the premises—any of which can be sipped straight or as a base for one of the cocktails on the menu.

Staff members occasionally run into folks who spent time at the jail in the past, either as an employee or—ahem, guest. According to tasting room manager Shelly Rogers, one former inmate still resides there, only in another spirit form. “Doors close on their own. Signs move. We have extreme temperature shifts,” she says. “One time, we found a framed picture of the jail moved, with the glass broken.”

BOONE COUNTY JAIL DISTILLERY 104 W. Washington St., Lebanon, 847-401-1478
HOURS Fri–Sat 4–10 p.m.