For the 8th year, the world largest gathering of small, independent & artisanal brands will converge on Chicago, much to the delight of spirits enthusiasts everywhere.  What started out as just three small brands conducting a tasting in a bar in New York City over 10 years ago has now grown to become one of the most anticipated underground spirit tastings on the planet.  The brainchild of Dave Schmier, founder of Redemption Rye & Temptation Bourbon, and owner of Deadwood Bourbon & Rye whiskey and The Funk Rum brands, and Martin C. Duffy, U.S. Brand Representative for Glencairn Crystal and former Sr. Masters of Whisky for Diageo, the Indie Spirit Expo has taken place across the country in such cities as San Francisco, New York City, Las Vegas and New Orleans (during the fabled Tales of the Cocktail week).  However, the Windy City hosts the grandest one of them all!

The CISE provides members of the service industry as well as consumers an opportunity to meet the new wave of creative & innovated distillers, indie bottlers, importers and distributors as they sample & speak about their spirits. Attendees will be able to chose from over 600 spirits within the major liquor categories of vodka, gin/genever, rum/cachaca/clairin, tequila/mescal, whisk(e)y, liqueurs and even unique drink mixers from around the world.  

Schmier says, “The Chicago Indie Spirits Expo is a direct response to both the growing interest in craft spirits among consumers and the growth of craft distillers and other spirits entrepreneurs.“ Co-producer Martin Duffy, after experiencing Schmier’s New York event in 2011, convinced his friend to bring his Indie Spirits Expo to the City of Big Shoulders. “Chicago has always been a progressive drinking town, so it only seemed logical to bring this event here and make it the biggest and best event of its kind,” Duffy says. “Plus, it is a great chance to highlight the best of the Midwest’s own burgeoning distilling community.”

The 2017 Chicago Independent Spirits Expo featured over 130 exhibitors sampling over 600 different artisanal and independent spirits from all over the world (The USA, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) to over 1200 key bartenders, F&B managers, bar owners, distributors, importers, retailers and spirit aficionados coming from all over the North, Central & South America as well as Europe & Asia. 

A feature unique to the Chicago Indie Spirits Expo each year is The industry roundtable Discussions. Held the afternoon of the Expo in The Buckingham Room of the Chicago Hilton Hotel & Tower, the industry round table discussion (12 noon to 2pm) is a select panel of spirit professionals from various levels of the spirits industry who discuss the current trends, topics, opportunities and challenges that face small spirits brands in the current market place.  These round table discussions are open only to VIP ticket holders, exhibitors and media. 

This year’s guest moderator is the highly respected drinks journalist & author, Mr. Lew Bryson, former managing editor of Whisky Advocate Magazine.

Joining Lew will be an elite panel of drink professionals from every level of the drink world – distributors, retailers, distillers, importers, etc.. Get their take on the hot button topics facing those involved with making, selling and drinking adult beverages of every kind.

Panelists will include such libation luminaries as:

  • Brett Pontoni, Retail Spirits Buyer for Binny’s Beverage Depot
  • Guy Rehorst, owner of Great Lakes Distillery. Board Member of the Wisconsin Distillers Guild and of The Wisconsin Craft Beverage Coalition
  • Mark Shilling, out-going President for American Craft Spirits Association
  • Jamie Duffy, Illinois & Wisconsin Market Manager for Palm Bay Imports
  • Monique Huston, National Spirits Director for Winebow Group
  • Andrew Faulkner, VP of Operations for American Distilling Institute
  • Jason Griffin, Director of Brand Development at Thoroughbred Spirits Group
  • Victoria Rizzotte, Director of Operations at American Spirits Exchange

The IRTD kicks off the day promptly at 12noon. Admittance is limited to exhibitors, media and VIP Ticket Holders.

Tickets for the Chicago Independent Spirits Expo include two options: 

VIP ticket, $85.00, allows access to the round table discussions, seminars plus early admission to the tasting session at 4:30pm.  

General Admission ticket, $65.00, grants you entry to the tasting session from 6:30pm to close at 9:00pm.  

A portion of all ticket sales will go to our charitable partner.


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