A Publication of WTVP

J.K. Williams Distilling revives Peoria’s “Whiskey Capital of the World” legacy.

Once known as “The Whiskey Capital of the World,” Peoria’s legacy died out with Prohibition… that is, until Jon, Kristin, Jesse and Kassi Williams revived that storied tradition, opening J.K. Williams Distilling in East Peoria last October. Naming the distillery after the Williams brothers’ great-great grandfather, a Prohibition-era bootlegger, the family is carrying his recipes from the 1920s into the 21st century.

On June 7th, J.K. Williams made its new Young Buck Bourbon available to the public for the first time. It’s aged a minimum of two years in a specially-designed honeycomb barrel, patented by the Williams family, which speeds up the aging process, allowing it to age more quickly yet retain the smoothness and quality of other craft bourbons. “We think it’ll be a very hot item,” said Jon Williams on the cusp of its release. “A lot of people are looking for brown or aged spirits. They like the quality that American bourbon brings to the table.”

J.K.’s Young Buck Bourbon is named after J.K’s son—and Jon and Jesse’s great-grandfather—Eldon “Buck” Lee Williams, who passed down his father’s famous bourbon recipe. “He was just kind of a wild character,” says Williams. “So we named Young Buck Bourbon after him… We wanted to tie Buck in there somewhere.”

Later this summer, the distillery will release J.K.’s Fire and Spice Whiskey—the Williams family’s take on a cinnamon-based whiskey—and next year, it will release a second bourbon. In the meantime, J.K.’s Young Buck Bourbon is available for tasting, along with J.K’s Original Corn Whiskey, Smitty’s Apple Pie whiskey and a number of fruit-based whiskeys. iBi

Distillery tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays—visit for more information.