Northern Virginia Distillery Double-Dip: Catoctin Creek & Copper Fox

A couple weeks ago I was in Northern Virginia and I had the chance to stop in for a visit at two very cool micro-distilleries that are turning out some very tasty and unique whiskies. While in the area I did some camping and hiking in Shenandoah National Park which felt like real 'mountain moonshiner' territory, so I think it's appropriate that good, legal whisky is being made in the hills just outside the nation's capital.

The first distillery I visited was Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, VA, a tiny town about twenty miles northwest of Dulles International Airport and a stone's throw from the West Virginia line. Catoctin Creek was founded in 2009 by a husband and wife team, and from what I could tell, she seems to be the head distiller, which is cool to see.They're located in a small warehouse space in an unassuming industrial park, a lot like Philadelphia Distilling Company which I visited last year. While the space might be small they make the most of it. Up front is a tasting room and gift shop, and in back there's a shiny, German-made copper still of about 100 gallon capacity, a corner full of aging 30 gallon barrels, and a temperature-controlled tent used for fermentation.

All of Catoctin Creek's currently-available products are made from organic rye from Kansas, but through some very creative distilling tricks they are able to make the most of this one simple ingredient. They produce both aged and unaged rye whiskies as well as a really crisp and tasty rye-based gin. They also make some fruit brandies and liquors which I heard great things about, but they didn't have any available when I visited. There was a big crowd in the tasting room on the Saturday that I stopped by, with folks visiting from as far away as Germany. Everyone got a taste of the Mosby's Spirit unaged rye, the signature Roundstone Rye (aged in 30 gallon white oak barrels), and the Watershed Gin. All three were very good, and I brought home a bottle of the Roundstone Rye which I will review for you soon. For more on Catoctin Creek check out there website, or just pop in for a visit like I did.

The second distillery I visited was a real treat for me since it was pretty much exactly how I would design a distillery given unlimited cash. Copper Fox Distillery is located a bit off-the-beaten-path in the small, artsy town of Sperryville, VA, but it's not difficult to find. It's not far from Shenandoah National Park, so it's a nice stop-off when heading to or from that area. Beyond making good whisky, Copper Fox is a cool place to visit. The distillery has been in operation for a little over five years, and occupies an old, barn-style building in a secluded compound of three or four similar buildings - one of which houses an antiques store. The tasting room is small, but very cute and not only sells whisky, but also miniature models of the Copper Fox delivery truck that sits outside the distillery. Outside the tasting room there's a really nice sitting area with a true man-cave vibe that makes you want to hang out for hours. Copper Fox is also one of the only distilleries in America (maybe the only?) where you can see a small-scale malting operation, just like you might see in Scotland.

Copper Fox takes a soup-to-nuts approach to making its distinctive whiskies, from malting it's own barley which is grown by a nearby farmer to aging its whiskeys in a unique process using apple and cherry wood alongside traditional oak. Copper Fox's products include both aged and unaged versions of Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky and Copper Fox Rye, and they have a bourbon coming soon which I can't wait to try. I encourage you to check their website for more info on tours and tastings, and check back here for a review of the bottle of Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky that I brought home.

I guess it's true what they say...Virginia is for (whisky) Lovers.


Scott said...

Hey, that's awesome. Thanks for the coverage! We appreciate your visit!

FWIW - Our rye comes from Kansas; our herbs for gin from California. :-)

Black_Evolutionary said...

My bad for steering you wrong about the source of the grain. I guess I got that part confused. :-/

Thanks for coming for a visit and for your patience since it seems you were one of the kind folks who was bearing with me while I tried to manage that large crowd that Saturday. I hope I get a mulligan on that one.