News

Wine & Country: Five Charming Places to Visit in Loudoun

Becky HarrisWine and Country recently did a story on five charming places to visit in Loudoun, and Purcellville featured on the list.  Douglas Rogers writes:

If you prefer something stronger than tea, Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, the first Loudoun distillery since Prohibition, is in a brick warehouse nearby. Here, Becky Harris, arguably the greatest female whiskey maker in America, crafts award-winning rye, brandy and gin, all of which you can sample around the horseshoe-shaped bar tasting room out front.

We have to agree about the Becky Harris bit, but we may be biased.

You can read the full story, here.

Esquire - The 10 Best Rye Whiskey Brands

Roundstone RyeWhat a lovely thing to be included in Esquire's "10 Best Rye Whiskey Brands" article:

Another craft distillery with a strong focus on rye is Virginia’s Catoctin Creek; it even trademarked the term "the Virginia Rye Whiskey." Founders Scott and Becky Harris (she’s also the chief distiller) are committed to making high quality, small batch rye whiskey that doesn’t lack for flavor or complexity. Some of these are young and relatively low ABV, like the 80-proof flagship Roundstone Rye, a nice sipping whiskey or Manhattan building block. All are made from a 100 percent rye mash bill, like the bottled-in-bond Rabble Rouser Rye, a 100-proof, four-year-old whiskey that explodes with spice and fruit. Go ahead and explore the limited releases from the distillery as well, like the Braddock Oak Single Barrel and Red Wine Finished Rye, or the biannual cask strength version of Roundstone Rye, which is finished in a maple syrup barrel.

You can read the full article, here.

20 Best Rye Whiskey Brands 2020 - Vinepair

Roundstone Rye Cask ProofVery nice to be included with some heavyweight brands in Vinepair's 20 Best Rye Whiskey Brands 2020 roundup.  Of the Roundstone Rye Cask Proof, they write:

The 116 proof indicated on this bottle’s label prompts a double-take when sipping the whiskey. The alcohol burn is barely noticeable but the high ABV content does intensify the rye-forward profile and provides a never-ending finish. Subtle oak influence complements dried fruit and toffee notes.

You can read the roundup, here, and the review of the Cask Proof by itself, here.

The History of Catoctin Creek - Mash and Grain

Mash and Grain did a really lovely, comprehensive history of Catoctin Creek, dating back to before the distillery when Becky and Scott first met.  It covers the seeds of entrepreneurship that led to its ultimate establishment.  This is the most in-depth article written to date on our story, and contains intimate details on our thinking before the venture even formed:

Scott and Becky, circa 1991Distilleries require an incredible amount of upfront investment, so the loan certainly helped, but Scott and Becky were also pouring their entire life savings into this venture. In order to be licensed in Virginia, a distillery needed to have already purchased all of their equipment, set it up, and tested it to make sure it functioned properly. That meant securing a commercial location, signing a lease, thousands upon thousands of dollars in equipment, all before they could legally make a single drop. ... With all this money invested up front, they had sacrificed so much with no guarantee that the two of them had what it would take to make it work. ... [For] Scott it was more about faith. Faith in themselves.

He recounts a story from just after they were approved for their loan. Scott used a new social media platform, Twitter, to announce they had the financing to start their distillery. Shortly after, he received a call from Emily Maltby, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal who was doing a story on SBA loans, and wanted to feature them to lend a human element to the piece.

We got into the Wall Street Journal. We hadn’t even made anything. We felt like we were ordained by God to do this. We could do no wrong. Of course it will be good if we make it, because it has to be. Why would we do all this trouble otherwise? That’s kind of the complex you have when you’re an entrepreneur. You’re just gonna go full steam ahead, because of course it will be good.” - Scott Harris

Divine intervention or not, their strict process backgrounds proved to be a big asset.

Becky inspecting the Virginia rye grainAfter a few years have passed, fast forwarding to present time, they write a little about how we do grain selection to create a mash bill of 100% rye:

Scott and Becky are proud to say that their rye grain comes from local Virginia farms, but when they were first starting out it was very difficult to find farmers who would grow grain for them. For the first 6 or 7 years, they had to rely on commercial mills where they had no control over the varietals they would receive. Now they do have a handful of local farms they work with. Their mash bill is 100% rye, but not all one varietal. Their farmers need to find varietals that work well for their land and climates, so the combination has changed from time to time. Whenever a farmer brings a new varietal to Becky, she distills one batch with 100% of that specific grain so she can evaluate it’s profile from a sensory standpoint to get an idea of how it may fit into their products. Once she has a sense of it’s character she will slowly start to incorporate it into the mashbill in small quantities to maintain a consistent flavor profile. For a company that mostly deals in single barrel releases, they are basically doing the blending at the front end of production, with each varietal lending complexity and diversity of flavor from the very beginning.

It is a wonderful long-form biography.  I hope you'll enjoy it. 

You can read the full article, here.

Stepping up to a legacy - American Whiskey magazine

Becky Harris of Catoctin Creek

Maggie Kimberl at American Whiskey recently wrote a fantastic story on the brief and recent history of the hand sanitizer chaos that emerged during the COVID-19 crisis.  Many, many distilleries across the country, both big and small, immediately stepped up and provided much needed sanitizing alcohol to their communities, most pivoting in a manner of days and weeks.  Becky Harris found herself suddenly in a leadership role in ACSA to help navigate this confusing time, and stepped up to help people save lives--literally save lives.  We are so proud of her.  Maggie writes:

“Both individually and within my distillery we were suddenly being approached by people asking if we had alcohol,” Harris recalls. “Bleach was gone, Purell was off the shelves, and we had a ton of people asking if we had any they could get hold of. It was obvious that people were really desperate. We were getting tons of calls.” Harris reports the industry went from ‘can this be done?’, to doing it in a matter of days. She was asked by the executive committee at the ACSA if she could take the lead on the matter and she did.

You can read the entire story, here.

Chilled Magazine: Top 9 Virtual Distillery Tours

We are in fine company in this Chilled magazine article about the nine best virtual distillery tours:  Buffalo Trace, Lagavulin, Four Roses, and little ol' Catoctin Creek.  The article notes:

Capturing the experience of visiting a small distillery, Catoctin Creek has produced a video tour led by co-founder and distiller Scott Harris. As the fellow narrating the experience is also the one who not just makes, but also conceived of the whiskeys and other spirits in question (Catoctin Creek is known mostly for their rye whiskey, but they also have a gin and some brandies), he goes beyond what most virtual tours do in discussing his production process. Ironically, the smallest distillery on this list also produced what is arguably the best technical presentation of the bunch.

You can read the full story, here.

Join "the fellow" as he guides you on a virtual tour and tasting at the distillery. See how whiskey is made and enjoy some tasting notes and history about our small Virginia distillery.

Maxim: Best World Whiskey Day Bottles

#InThisTogether Infinity Barrel

First, Forbes did a fantastic and thorough article about our efforts to make lemons into lemonade with our release of the #InThisTogether Infinity Barrel benefit project.  Kate Dingwall writes:

Virginia's Catoctin Creek Distilling Company is making whiskey out of lemons, figuratively speaking. Due to the crisis many DC restaurants are suffering during the lockdown they can't afford to keep the barrels they'd purchased from Catoctin's barrel select program. These are some of the distillery's best hand-picked barrels, including an American Chardonnay oak cask, apple brandy cask and American Imperial Stout cask from Virginia's Stablecraft Brewery.

So Catoctin Creek owners Scott and Becky Harris are not only easing their burdens by taking back the barrels, but are blending them into an Infinity Barrel Rye Whisky dubbed aptly #InThisTogether. Not only is it a delicious blend, but all profits from this limited 80-proof release will go to charities (like the US Bartender Guild's Emergency Assistance Program) supporting struggling restaurants and bars.

You can read that full article, here.

Forbes: Two amazing articles in one day!

#InThisTogether Infinity Barrel

First, Forbes did a fantastic and thorough article about our efforts to make lemons into lemonade with our release of the #InThisTogether Infinity Barrel benefit project.  Kate Dingwall writes:

“We wanted to find partners who could help us get assistance to the people who are the heart and soul of all these restaurants, who are often undocumented, juggling multiple jobs, may be struggling with health effects from the virus themselves, and uncertain whether their workplaces will ever open again,” explains [Rebecca] Harris.

You can read that full article, here.

Catoctin Creek Whisky BottlesThen, we got word that we were one of only four craft distilleries featured in Forbes for World Whisky Day!  How insanely cool is that?!

“Virginia had 3,600 distilleries in 1810, making primarily unaged rye, but also brandies from local fruits,” says Becky. “Our inspiration dates back to before 1830, when distilleries had not started mass production and before standard regional identities for rye existed. Each of my rye farmers has a slightly different flavor that their terroir brings to the whisky, and my 100% rye mashbill uses grain from 3-4 sources, fermented together, pot-distilled and aged to create the finished products.”

The expressions of Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye whisky are chosen from single barrels which reflect the flavor profile, character, and excellence chosen for each, a process that paid big when Wine Enthusiast awarded high scores to all five rye whiskies in the February/March 2020 issue.

You can read that full article, here.  Thank you, Forbes!!

Rye Dominion - Spotlight on Becky Harris - Tasting Panel

Tasting Panel April May 2020Tasting Panel focuses its attention on Becky Harris in this month's issue of Distillery Spotlight.  What a wonderful article and photos by Matt Jackson and Nick Klein:

[Rebecca] Harris became a trailblazer in the spirits world as one of the first female head distillers in modern U.S. history, yet she’s quick to point out that American distillation’s early success was largely due to the efforts of women. “In this region of the country, the tobacco industry [was] so demanding that women were the ones who took care of the brewing and distilling,” Harris explains. “It really wasn’t until the bigger stills came over from Europe that distillation became more industrial.”

You can read the full story, here, or the Tasting Panel site, here.

Whisky Advocate: Craft Distillers Struggle to Survive Amid COVID-19

In these difficult times (I am getting so tired of saying that), Whisky Advocate finds the bright spots.  This is a nice article highlighting the sanitizer production across the country, and the few states like Virginia that have allowed direct-to-consumer shipping.

A windfall came, however, when the Virginia ABC announced on April 6 that it would allow certain distilleries to ship directly to in-state customers. “That was a lifeline to our operations,” Harris says. “Once we wound down the sanitizer project, a number of people working on it transitioned into packing and shipping cases.” Thus far, it’s been “a real lifesaver” for Catoctin Creek and neighboring craft distilleries. “I talked to a number of other distilleries in Virginia, some of whom do less than 500 cases a year out of their tasting room,” Harris says. “Their sales had actually improved by 50% over the previous year.”

You can read the entire story, here.

American Whiskey Mazagine reviews Rabble Rouser

Hooray! Another great review from American Whiskey magazine.  Catoctin Creek Rabble Rouser was recommended, 8.6/8.9 points by Peggy Noe Stevens and Susan Reigler, and again the highest rated whiskey in the issue!  A highlight from the review by Susan Reigler:

8.9 Points.
Nose:
  Rye grass partners with floral notes.  The woods after a spring rain with wildflowers underfoot.  Subtle for 100 proof.
Palate: Sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice.  Then the flowers blossom.  This is all balanced with vanilla and rye spice.
Finish: Very long, though the flowers fade and the spice is persistent.
Comments:  Unexpectedly, water brings out morerye rather than the fruit.  But this doesn't do enough to upset the balance.

Get your copy of the magazine, here.

American Whiskey Magazine

American Whiskey Magazine

Business Insider names Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 92 Proof in Top 10

According to two renowned whisky experts, Heather Greene of Milam and Green and author of "Whiskey Distilled: A Populust Guide to the Water of Life," and Susan Reigler, world-renowned bourbon expert and former president of the Bourbon Women Association, our Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 92 Proof "Distiller's Edition" rates in their Top 10!  Even better, we pulled in at #2 on the list!!  Here's an excerpt from the review:

Another distillery that Reigler recommends for rye is Catoctin Creek, located in Virginia.

"Rye is generally a bit spicier and more herbal than bourbon," Reigler explained. "Think of the scent of rye grass or caraway seeds. They have a peppery character, and some also have a lot of caramel."

 You can read the full review, here.

Latest News

Wine & Country: Five Charming Places to Visit in Loudoun

Wine and Country recently did a story on five charming places to visit in Loudoun, and Purcellville featured on the list.  Douglas Rogers writes: If you prefer something stronger than tea, Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, the first Loudoun distillery since Prohibition...

Read more

Esquire - The 10 Best Rye Whiskey Brands

What a lovely thing to be included in Esquire's "10 Best Rye Whiskey Brands" article: Another craft distillery with a strong focus on rye is Virginia’s Catoctin Creek; it even trademarked the term "the Virginia Rye Whiskey." Founders Scott and Becky...

Read more

20 Best Rye Whiskey Brands 2020 - Vinepair

Very nice to be included with some heavyweight brands in Vinepair's 20 Best Rye Whiskey Brands 2020 roundup.  Of the Roundstone Rye Cask Proof, they write: The 116 proof indicated on this bottle’s label prompts a double-take when sipping the whiskey...

Read more

Contact Us

Catoctin Creek Distillery

Catoctin Creek Distillery
120 W Main St
Purcellville, VA 20132

Tel (540) 751-8404


Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence

Virginia is for Lovers

Latest Events

Fred Minnick's Repeal Day Expo

DEC 5 Repeal Day Expo - Hosted by Fred Minnick! Dec. 5th, 12:00pm EST until... On December 5, we celebrate the Repeal of Prohibition. And because it's 2020, we will party like it's 1933...

Read more

Catoctin Creek Bingo!

NOW thru 2020 Catoctin Creek BINGO! For the rest of 2020... Catoctin Creek is happy to announce, Catoctin Creek BINGO!  Whether you live in the District or in Virginia, we have a game...

Read more

Catoctin Creek Virtual Portfolio Tasting

JAN 14 Catoctin Creek Virtual Portfolio Tasting! Jan 14, 8:30pm EST (originally Dec. 3, but now rescheduled) Join us on Thursday, January 14, 8:30pm EST, for an immersive virtual tasting of the entire Roundstone...

Read more