Distill America XV is May 20th - Here's What You Need To Know

Distill America XV will be held on Saturday, May 20th, 2023. The event runs from 1-6pm at Breese Stevens Field in Madison, WI. This is a different venue from previous years.


If you’re new to the area or just getting into distilled spirits, you may be curious about what Distill America is about. I’ve attended for the last seven years and am friends with the folks who make this event come to life. As such, I’ve got the rundown for everything you need to know.


Distill America was founded 15 years ago by a small group of spirits enthusiasts in Madison known as the Madison Malt Society. They often traveled to Chicago for whiskey events, but growing expenses damaged their enjoyment and took from the excitement of attending year after year. Aside from travel costs, they contended with pricey entry fees for the distillers and attendees. They were struck with the notion that they could create an event locally that anyone could attend every year, whether they were an exhibitor or a fan of distilled spirits. The goal was to attract bartenders, retailers, and the general public to learn about what is on the market and available to enjoy.


Rather than simply recreating the typical whiskey event, the founders wanted to create something unique. Star Liquor on Williams (Willy) Street got involved. The group then decided they wanted this to be a big, real event. They also wanted to introduce visitors to exclusively American-made spirits, not just Bourbon, Rye, and other American whiskeys. That opened the door for rum, brandy, gin, vodka, and other brown or clear spirits. Boom! Distill America was born.


Behind the scenes, there was much volunteer work to get the process going. The crazy thing is nobody involved took a salary. All proceeds benefit the non-profit Wisconsin Distillers Guild. The Guild’s mission is to promote Wisconsin-made spirits, agriculture, tourism, small-batch distillation, and the safe enjoyment of alcoholic beverages. Distill America also creates scholarships for people to take coursework and learn about the distilling industry.


From the smallest craft distillery to the largest, established distilleries, they all travel to Madison to entertain and educate both true spirits enthusiasts and people new to everything. There is something for everyone to enjoy.


The Madison Malt Society's desire is and always has been for Distill America to grow and remain sustainable for the future without losing what makes Distill America unique. But that means change will happen. Distill America went a step further by offering educational seminars about six years ago.


Now that you know the background of Distill America, I have a few tips and tricks for attending. First and foremost, enjoy this event responsibly. Make arrangements in advance for getting to and from the event safely. Bring a designated driver who can attend for a mere $20.00. Your DD will have access to any non-alcoholic beverages and food.


It is very easy to get more than buzzed as the spirits are free-flowing, and there are more exhibitors than you can shake a stick at. Eat a full meal before showing up. Appetizers will be available on the floor, but you shouldn’t show up on an empty stomach.


VIP+ gets you on the floor at 1:00pm before anyone else can look around. Have you ever heard of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery? That’s the holy grail of American whiskeys. It is many years out of production, but Blade & Bow will be there to pour you some of the very last of the original stocks! Diageo, the owner of Blade & Bow, will provide an educational seminar. You’ll also get special glassware beyond the standard that everyone else receives.


VIP gets you through the door at 2:00pm, and you’ll visit booths an hour before General Admission. There are special VIP-only pours that exhibitors offer. Some of the big legacy distilleries previously served up their most sought-after limited-edition distilled spirits.


Both VIP+ and VIP tickets are sold out.


General Admission comes in at 3:00pm, and there’s still plenty of opportunity to taste awesome things that American-only distilleries have to offer. In all, there are over 80 vendors from across the United States. General Admission tickets are still available for $70.00 and can be purchased at https://distillamerica.com.  


No matter which ticket you possess, you’ll get a complimentary Glencairn nosing glass from the event’s sponsor, Bulleit Bourbon, and food throughout the evening. Distill America is an outdoor event under tents. Whatever crazy weather Madison has to offer that day, you’ll have a great time!


Finally, I’ll be walking around doing meet-and-greets with various distillers. I hope to see you there. This is your perfect opportunity to #DrinkCurious. Cheers!

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly. 


  1. Thanks Jeff! You summarized and shed light on what we love about the event. We will do our best again this year to keep making attendees proud of their purchase. Here’s to Year XV!

  2. Will distillers be selling any bottles?

    1. This is a tasting event. They're not set up for sales.


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