Red Eagle Distillery, Geneva
Gene Sigel grows the ingredients that go into his bourbon, rye whiskey, vodka and brandy.
Stop by his welcoming red barn to try them for yourself.
Gene Sigel worked in agriculture for years before he started making spirits, believing it would be a good wintertime hobby. It was also a sustainable way to use up excess crops he grew on the 80-acre farm he purchased in 2011 in the hopes of one day expanding his neighboring South River Vineyard.
“My wife would take our children on spring breaks and come back, [saying] there were small distilleries starting in other states and that our farm would be a great spot for one,” Sigel recalls. “That was the genesis of it.”
Today, in a small red barn along Geneva’s South River Road (and adjacent to South River Vineyard, which Sigel founded in 2002) Red Eagle Distillery invites travelers in to try one of its five signature spirits: bourbon, rye, vodka, rum and brandy — all sourced from ingredients Sigel grew himself.
When he founded the place in 2012, Sigel set out with the intention to make bourbon and rye whiskey — distilled from corn, wheat and rye, which takes around three to four years to initially grow. The brandy and vodka are made with a base of grapes cultivated at the vineyard at Red Eagle Distillery.
“In the wine industry, there is a certain legitimacy that comes with growing your own materials,” says Sigel.
His passion for distilling didn’t happen overnight and actually started way sooner than it should have, as he recounts the story with a laugh.
“I remember, when I was 10 years old, I used to have a book that I would check out from the local library about how to build a still at home to make corn alcohol,” he says.
Red Eagle Distillery’s signature cocktails include the Hot Toddy, a combination of brandy, hot water and honey, garnished with fresh ginger and cinnamon. Another customer favorite is the Swamp Water, which gets its name from the bright green color created from its mix of fruit juices, Blue Curacao and bourbon.
“We have tried to become a little bit of everything,” Sigel says, “a vineyard, winery, distillery and cocktail bar.”
6202 South River Rd., Geneva 44041, 440/466-6604, redeaglespirits.com