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Press Release: Catoctin Creek Distilling Company and GWAR release second annual Ragnarök Rye nationwide

GWAR and Ragnarok Rye 2022
Photo credit: Jeremy Saffer.

Virginia natives roll out 1,000 more cases of intergalactic whisky featuring new collectable bottle toppers and label artwork

PURCELLVILLE, Va. (June 24, 2022) - - - Mayhem! Panic! Chaos! Gore! GWAR has returned from their intergalactic journey and they’re thirsty! Aliens are back in the distillery, and all hell has broken loose!

Catoctin Creek Distilling Co., The Virginia Rye Whisky℠ and heavy metal rock band legends, GWAR are back for the second annual release of their infamous Ragnarök Rye. The Virginia natives teamed up to release the first collaboration in May 2021 and are excited to launch 1,000 more cases from the orbit of the moon. That is, if GWAR doesn’t drink it all this time...

“We really thought we had seen the last of these guys, but they came back,” remarked Scott Harris, Founder and General Manager of Catoctin Creek. “You know how people tell you to never feed a stray cat? Yeah, that goes double for space monsters. We never should have given them that whisky. Now, we’ll never be rid of them!” The intergalactic visitors returned to Catoctin Creek, demanding even more of the tasty Ragnarök Rye whisky. Under threats of violence, the distillery team cranked out another batch.

Rated 93 points by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Catoctin Creek Ragnarök Rye is a 92- proof intergalactic rye whisky that is pot stilled, then aged in charred new white oak, sugar maple and cherrywood. This year’s bottle includes new and improved collectable metal die cast toppers representing all five band members: Blóthar the Berserker; Balsac the Jaws of Death; Jizmak da Gusha; Beefcake the Mighty; and Pustulus Maximus. Up to 100 five-packs of Ragnarök Rye featuring a bottle topper of each GWAR band member will be available to order through Catoctin Creek’s national ordering site, RagnarokRye.com. Each purchase includes a chance to win a guitar signed by the band, a signed barrel head, or GWAR tickets for life.

The bottle’s new commemorative whisky label also matches the artwork from GWAR’s new album, “The New Dark Ages,” which was released digitally in June and will be available as a CD on July 15, and vinyl and cassette on Sept. 16 via the band’s label, Pit Records.

“Here at GWAR headquarters, we can’t get enough of this Catoctin Creek booze,” said Blóthar the Berserker of GWAR. “So much so, we have decided to take up residence at Purcellville, Virginia! I’m sure the Chamber of Commerce is delighted. This annual edition features artwork from our new album, “The New Dark Ages,” and let’s just say this hooch heavily ‘influenced’ it. So, make sure you stock up on what is left of this batch of boozy delight before we manage to drink down all 1,000 cases. Also, while you swig, check out all the cool new Ragnarök Rye swag you can buy! Consume humans! It is your sole purpose in life!!!”

The mad scientists at Catoctin Creek have welcomed GWAR with screams of delight, as they move in to supervise the production of another batch of delicious Ragnarök Rye. The monster metal band has parked their bat-shaped helicopter in the parking lot, and have taken the distillery tour at least a thousand times – it's true ‘love’. Once the juice is ready, GWAR will hurl it into orbit around the sun to char the new white oak barrels.

The band members have personally signed the barrel heads, and are now anxious to bring this intergalactic nectar of the Gods back to earth to guzzle it by the gallon. Up to 700 cases of Ragnarök Rye (92 proof/46% ABV) $99/750mL will be available throughout Catoctin Creek’s national distribution footprint beginning Monday, June 27; 300 cases will be on sale in the distillery’s online store for curbside pickup or direct shipping in Virginia only, limited to three bottles per customer. Pre-sale orders can be purchased through BuyVirginiaRye.com. Catoctin Creek Rye Society™ members may contact the distillery to obtain a bottle any time before the release date. For more information, video content, or merchandise, visit Gwar.net and RagnarokRye.com.

Click here for high-resolution photos.

About Catoctin Creek Distilling: Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, The Virginia Rye Whisky ℠, was founded by Scott and Becky Harris in 2009. Inspired by the history and craft of Virginia, Catoctin Creek made a name for itself as the first legal distillery since Prohibition in Purcellville, Virginia’s Loudoun County. The craft distillery is home to Virginia’s most-awarded whisky, Roundstone Rye, which has been presented gold medals across the globe and stands out through its old-world production methods. Catoctin Creek prides itself on sourcing rye whisky, gin, and seasonal brandy from local grains and fruits, with spirits available in 47 states and 3 continents. The Harris’ intricate attention to detail results in high quality internationally acclaimed products, including seasonal releases and private cask offerings, that recognize the true craft of Virginia spirits. For more information, call (540) 751-8404 or visit CatoctinCreekDistilling.com. Follow Catoctin Creek on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

About GWAR: The story of GWAR is carved across the history of this barren and hopeless planet, but GWAR themselves are not of this world. Their story begins in the deepest reaches of outer space. Long ago, the beings who would become the rock band GWAR were part of an elite fighting force, the Scumdogs of the Universe. For eons, they served as thralls to a supreme being known only as the Master. But one by one, each future member of the band earned a glaring reputation for being an intergalactic screw-up. And so, they were banished, sent away on a fool’s errand to conquer planet Earth. Once here, GWAR shaped the face of the globe, destroying and rebuilding the natural world, and giving rise to all human history. For more information, visit GWAR.net.

Press Release: Scott and Becky Harris receive DISCUS Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year Award

 

Catoctin Creek wins Dave Pickerell Craft Member of the Year Award at 2022 Conference

Catoctin Creek Distillery owners recognized as industry leaders by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and fellow craft distillery members at annual conference

PURCELLVILLE, Va. (June 13, 2022) - - - Scott and Becky Harris, husband-and-wife co-owners of Catoctin Creek Distilling Co., The Virginia Rye Whisky℠, were honored to accept the Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year Award at DISCUS’ annual conference at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans on Thursday, June 9.

“We are so humbled by this award,” said Scott, Founder and General Manager of Catoctin Creek. “Dave Pickerell was a mentor and a friend to us, and to receive an award in his honor is something we will cherish for the rest of our lives.”

In memory of Dave Pickerell, the ‘Johnny Appleseed of craft distilling,’ the DISCUS Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year Award is presented to a DISCUS Craft Council Member who has been a leader in supporting the association and the needs of the craft distillery community.

As tireless advocates for the craft spirits industry both in the Commonwealth of Virginia and internationally, the Harris’ were honored for their outstanding service. Scott has been a long-time member of the DISCUS Craft Distiller Advisory Council and currently sits on the Virginia Distillers Association’s Board of Directors. Becky is a fierce supporter of the industry’s growth as President of the American Craft Spirits Association’s Board of Directors and Secretary of the ACSA’s STEPUP Foundation, a program aimed to help combat the lack of diversity in the alcoholic beverage industry.

“Honestly, I'm speechless,” remarked Becky, Founder and Chief Distiller of Catoctin Creek. “The fact that this award was voted on by our peers in the Craft Advisory Council at DISCUS makes this even more special. To be recognized by them is indeed quite an honor.”

Together, Scott and Becky have been strong and effective advocates of top legislative and policy issues impacting the spirits sector ranging from passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act and the lifting of tariffs to state issues including direct-to-consumer shipping of spirits.

More than 550 spirit industry professionals and media joined DISCUS in honoring select industry leaders at their awards luncheon last Thursday. In addition to the Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year Award, DISCUS presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Joy Spence, Master Blender of Appleton Estate Jamaica; Humanitarian/Service Award to Women of the Vine & Spirits (Deborah Brenner, President); and Impact Award for Emerging Leaders to Nicole Austin, General Manager and Distiller of Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. Each recipient received a trophy created by Vendome Cooper and Brass Works. For more information, visit www.distilledspirits.org.

Click here for high-resolution photos courtesy DISCUS.

About Catoctin Creek Distilling: Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, The Virginia Rye Whisky ℠, was founded by Scott and Becky Harris in 2009. Inspired by the history and craft of Virginia, Catoctin Creek made a name for itself as the first legal distillery since Prohibition in Purcellville, Virginia’s Loudoun County. The craft distillery is home to Virginia’s most-awarded whisky, Roundstone Rye, which has been presented gold medals across the globe and stands out through its old-world production methods. Catoctin Creek prides itself on sourcing rye whisky, gin, and seasonal brandy from local grains and fruits, with spirits available in 47 states and 3 continents. The Harris’ intricate attention to detail results in high quality internationally acclaimed products, including seasonal releases and private cask offerings, that recognize the true craft of Virginia spirits. For more information, call (540) 751-8404 or visit CatoctinCreekDistilling.com. Follow Catoctin Creek on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Catoctin Creek - Best of Virginia 2022

Best of Virginia 2022Once again, Catoctin Creek has been awarded #1 BEST OF VIRGINIA for Distillery in Northern Virginia in Virginia Living magazine!

Nestled* on the banks of its namesake creek, Catoctin opening in 2009 as the first legal distillery in Loudoun County since before Prohibition.  The distillery's flagship spirit, Roundstone Rye, has received international acclaim.  Pick your poison from one of the brand's full line of products including whisky, gin and brandy, plus seasonal releases and exclusive cask offerings.

You can read the full article on page 97, here.

*Scott's note:  Not so much nestled, as near.

The 4 Winning Bartenders in the Catoctin Creek Cocktail Challenge

Catoctin Creek Whisky founders Becky and Scott Harris along with members of the Catoctin Creek and Chilled Media teams have chosen the WINNERS of the Catoctin Creek Cocktail Challenge!

The Harris’ invited Chilled 100 bartenders from four key markets across the United States to enter their Catoctin Creek Cocktail Challenge.  

Following a very close competition, FOUR (4) skillfully crafted cocktails—1 from each market—were chosen with each bartender earning an all-expense paid trip to meet Becky and Scott Harris and tour their Virginia-based Catoctin Creek Distillery.  

The four runners up take home a complimentary bottle of Catoctin Creek Ragnarök Rye® 

Check out the 4 winning bartenders and their runners up! 

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DENVER 

1st Place: Jorge Ortega 

Winters End

Jorge-Ortega-Winters-End

Ingredients: 

  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye   
  • 1 oz lemon juice,  
  • 3/4 oz pink pepper corn and anise syrup*   
  • 1/2 oz pineapple juice  
  • 1/2 oz spiced pear liquor   
  • Egg white   

Preparation: Dry shake all ingredients, add ice, and shake again, strain into a coupe glass. Incorporate all ingredients in a tin and dry shake vigorously. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a coup glass, achieving a nice froth. Garnish with two torched star anise.  

 

*Pink Pepper Corn and Anise Syrup:  

Simmer 1 part sugar, 1 part water with pink pepper corn, black pepper, and star anise. let sit for 24 hours and strain.  

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Runner Up: Evren Bora  

Rye-napple Express

Evran-Bora-Rye-Napple-Express

Ingredients: 

  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice 
  • 1 oz pineapple gomme syrup* 
  • 1/2 Aperol 
  • 1/2 oz Lairds Applejack  

Preparation: Mix ingredients into a shaker tin. Throw. Strain over crushed ice. Pineapple frond garnish. Top with .5oz Yellow Chartreuse. I served mine in a tiki mug, but a rocks glass will work.  

*Pineapple Gomme Syrup  

Ingredients: 

  • 6 oz gomme arabic powder 
  • 6 oz water 
  • Let sit overnight 
  • 1 pineapple cut into chunks 
  • 12 oz water 
  • 36 oz sugar   

Preparation: Once sugar has dissolved break down pineapple using an immersion blender and bring to a boil. Strain pineapple syrup into gomme solution made the day before and mix.  

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FLORIDA 

1st Place: Angela Wood 

Old Dominion Lūʻau

Angela-Wood-Old-Dominion-Lūʻau

Ingredients: 

  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/2 oz turmeric syrup*  
  • 1/2 oz maple bacon syrup 
  • 2 oz pineapple juice 
  • 1 oz fresh lemon sour  
  • 3 shakes of celery bitters 
  • 2 chunks of chargrilled pineapple   

Preparation: Muddle charred grilled pineapple with 3 shakes of celery bitters. Build remaining ingredients in tin. Shake and strain over fresh ice into pint glass (BALL mason jar). Smoke cocktail for extra flavor and smell. (optional). Optional garnishes: Grilled pineapple, pineapple stem pieces, bacon straws or black pepper candied bacon slice, smoked maple brown sugar rim.  

 

*Turmeric syrup:  

  • 1/2 cups water  
  • 1/2 cups sugar  
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder  

Preparation: Cook until sugar is melted, and turmeric is combined. Cool before using. 

 

**Maple Bacon Syrup:  

Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cups water   
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup  
  • 3 strips cooked bacon 

Preparation: Fill up large pot with water about 3/4 to the top. Insert immersion circulator and set to 150 degrees F (65 C). Add water and maple syrup to saucepan, bring to a light boil, stirring frequently. Remove saucepan from heat. Cook bacon until crispy. Add bacon, water, and syrup to Ziploc bag. Seal bag and leave in immersion circulator for 90 minutes. Remove syrup and transfer to a small bottle. Add a splash of vodka to help preserve the syrup. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. 

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Runner Up:  Matthew Cormier 

Champe’s Attempt of Benedictine Arnold

Matt-Cormier-Champes-Attempt-Of-Benedictine-Arnold

Ingredients:   

  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/2 oz spiced carrot syrup* 
  • 1/4 oz Benedictine 
  • 4 dashes black walnut bitters 
  • 2 dashes orange bitters 
  • 1 spray absinthe  

Preparation: In a mixing glass combine all ingredients except absinthe and add ice. Stir approximately 10 rotations as to not over dilute cocktail. (Keep in mind it’s being served on crushed ice) strain cocktail into chilled coupe glass. Add crushed ice to create a dome in the cocktail. Spray 1 squeeze of absinthe from an atomizer. Garnish with an expressed orange twist and carrot greens.  

 

*Spiced carrot syrup  

Combine one cup Demerara sugar with one cup water in a pot. Bring to a boil. While bringing up to heat add 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 star anise, 1 tablespoon chopped ginger, 1/2 teaspoon high quality vanilla extract. Once boiling turn down heat and simmer until carrots are tender. Lightly mash carrots once tender. Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove all solids.  

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NEW YORK

1st Place: Megan Marshall 

The Pioneer

Megan-Marshall-The-Pioneer

Ingredients:  

  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye 
  • 1/4 oz Elderflower Liqueur 
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice 
  • 3/4 oz Honey-Peppercorn Syrup* 
  • 3/4 oz Aquafaba 
  • Rose water rinse 
  • Cherry and cracked pepper for garnish  

Preparation: Add a small amount of rose water to the bottom of a coupe glass. Give it a rinse and discard any remaining liquid. Then, place a brandied cherry in the bottom of the glass and set it aside. Next, add all other ingredients (except the cracked pepper garnish) into a shaker tin. Shake without ice for a few seconds. Then, add ice and shake again. Fine strain the cocktail into the coupe, and garnish with a sprinkle of cracked pepper. Cheers!  

 

*Honey-Peppercorn Syrup: Combine one cup of honey, one cup of water, and 3 tablespoons of black peppercorns over medium-high heat. Stir until the honey fully combines with the water. Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat, and let it simmer for five minutes. Then, take it off the heat and let it cool completely. Strain into another container and discard the peppercorns.  

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Runner Up: Nicole Salicetti 

Purcell’s Pick

Nicole-Salicetti-Purcells-Pick

Ingredients:  

  • 1 1/2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/2 oz blackberry sweet vermouth* 
  • 1/4 oz dill syrup
  • 1 dash salt solution** 
  • 10 drops citric acid 
  • 2 drops grapefruit bitters 
  • Brioche toast with blackberry spread and dill (for garnish)  

Preparation: Add all ingredients except for garnish into stirring glass. Stir and strain over large rock in a rocks glass.
Spread a dollop of jam onto mini toast and top with dill.  

*Sweet Vermouth blackberry reduction: slow cooked 50g fresh whole blackberries with 75g of sweet vermouth and 25g of water on stove top in small saucepan for 30 minutes. Strain out blackberries and cool. Blackberry jam: use strained blackberries from vermouth reduction and mash with one teaspoon of sugar. 

**Salt solution: 80ml water/20g salt  

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WASHINGTON D.C. 

1st Place: Elena Johnson 

Fog Over Purcellville

Elena-Johnson-Fog-oVer-Purcelville

Ingredients:                      

  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
  • 1/2 oz Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto 
  • 1 oz Earl Grey syrup* 
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice 
  • 2 dashes orange bitters  

Whipped coconut milk top**  

Preparation: Shake all ingredients but whipped coconut milk with ice. Double strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Top with layer of whipped coconut milk and 2 dehydrated orange half-moons.  

*Earl Grey Tea Syrup: Combine 2 Earl Grey tea bags, 8 oz. sugar, and 8 oz. hot water just off the boil. Stir to dissolve sugar. Remove tea bags after 5 minutes. Cool syrup and refrigerate. 

**Whipped Coconut Milk: Combine a 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk with 2 oz. simple syrup in a whip cream canister. Charge canister twice, shake, and refrigerate. 

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Runner Up: Dani Keenan 

The Proof of Gold is in Fire

Dani-Keenan-The-Proof-of-Gold-is-in-Fire

Ingredients:  

  • 2 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye  
  • 1/2 oz Ancho Reyes chile liqueur  
  • 1/2 oz Cherry goat cheese syrup*   
  • 1 oz blood orange juice  
  • 3 dashes smoked cinnamon bitters     

Preparation: Add all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled. Double strain into coupe glass decorated with edible gold leaf. Garnish with hollowed out red pepper filled with 151 proof rum and light on fire.  

*Cherry goat cheese syrup  

Ingredients:  

  • 1/2 cup demerara sugar  
  • 1/2 cup water  
  • 1/2 cup dark cherries  
  • 2 tablespoons Luxardo cherry juice  
  • 1 tablespoon creamy goat cheese 

Preparation: Bring all ingredients except goat cheese to a boil to dissolve sugar and slightly thicken. Smash cherries to release juice. Remove from heat and stir in goat cheese. Strain. Cool before using. 

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Becky and Scott Harris would like to thank all the participating bartenders and congratulate all the winners! They look forward to sharing a dram with you and showing you around their awesome Catoctin Creek Distillery in downtown Purcellville, Virginia!

American Whiskey: Profile on Catoctin Creek

Becky in a field of rye

Maggie Kimberl of American Whiskey magazine recently caught up with Becky Harris for an update on the distillery:

MK: Catoctin Creek whiskeys have garnered some major accolades over the years. What are you most proud of?

RH: This is a really challenging question: if we are talking about the whiskies, they’re like my children, and I love them all! As for the accolades, I am most proud of the consistency we have shown over the past years, reflected in those scores.

You can read the full article, here.

The Spirits Business: Ten female-founded spirits brands

Becky Harris, Chief Distiller

Nice to see Becky included in The Spirits Business roundup of ten female-founded spirits brands on International Women's Day.

Becky Harris co-founded Catoctin Creek Distilling Company in Virginia with her husband Scott in 2009. Based in Loudoun County in the north of Virginia, Catoctin Creek produces whiskey, gin and brandy.

With a degree in chemical engineering, Harris also serves as the chief distiller for the company and has previously worked at companies such as Amoco, YDK America, and CIBA, specialising in industrial processes and production systems.

In May 2020, Harris was appointed president of the board of directors for the American Craft Spirits Association.

In 2017, Constellation Brands acquired a minority stake in Catoctin Creek Distilling Company.

Last year, the producer spent US$1m on new equipment to triple its production capacity.

You can read the full article, here.

Scott and Becky featured on The Bourbon Show Podcast

This is one of our favorite podcasts, and it was a real pleasure to be on this show.  The comfortable style of the interview led to a lot of background and personal history on the distillery.  Plus, it was a lot of fun!

Steve, Renee & Jeremy interview Becky and Scott Harris, co-founders of Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, Virginia. The Bourbon Show music (Whiskey on the Mississippi) is by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com).

(If the podcast module above doesn't load, you can find the show, here.)

WSJ: Heavy Metal Bands Find Subtle Notes Selling Fancy Whiskey

GWAR and Catoctin Creek

Heavy metal is all over whiskey these days, and GWAR is certainly among the bands doing whiskey releases.  Tripp Mickle breaks it down at The Wall Street Journal:

The prog-metal band Gwar, who claim to be ancient aliens abandoned on Antarctica, partnered on a rye with Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, Va. The development was led by drummer Brad Roberts who performs as Jizmak da Gusha and wears a mask on stage that resembles the mythological teeth-gnashing dog guarding hell, Cerberus. He said that he and the band’s guitarist, who calls himself Balsac the Jaws ‘o Death, went to the distillery once a week to sample whiskey before selecting one to bottle.

“We liked the first one they made but lied so we could go back and get more drunk,” said Mr. da Gusha, whose band’s songs include “Fire in the Loins,” “We Will Kill Everything,” and “Biledriver.”

You can read the entire story, here.

Fox 5 DC Visits Catoctin Creek

Fox 5's Mike Thomas visited the distillery to learn about how Virginia's rye whisky is made and a little about how to make cocktails in our Art of the Cocktail classes.  Three segments below:

Fox 5 DC Visits Catoctin Creek

Fox 5 DC Visits Catoctin Creek

Fox 5 DC Visits Catoctin Creek

Maxim: Best New American Rye Whiskeys of 2021

Ragnarok Rye

Recent coverage in Maxim magazine was quite good:

Catoctin Creek teams up with metal maestros of havoc, gore and monstrosity GWAR for their highly limited edition Ragnarök Rye release. The intergalactic monsters apparently traveled to Purcellville, Virginia to destroy Planet Earth, as they are wont to do.

“We were quite surprised when GWAR showed up at our distillery,” Catoctin Creek founder Scott Harris tells us. “Purcellville is a quiet town, so to have these intergalactic visitors was honestly a little stressful. We had to constantly keep an eye on them to keep them from breaking stuff, and they even tried to eat our dog, Otto. The only way we could get them to leave was to agree to bottle their whiskey for them.”

So Harris and Catoctin Creek did, crafting a 92-proof rye first aged in charred new white oak, then sent for another sentence in both sugar maple and cherrywood barrels. Beyond brokering galactic peace Catoctin Creek also managed to make one helluva rye. $100 / 46% ABV

Read the full story, here.

The History of Virginia Rye

by Scott Harris

When colonists came to America, the first permanent British settlement was Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. (Over 400 years ago!) Immediately, during that time, colonists started making whisky from local grain, most famously (but not exclusively) by George Thorpe.

The style of distillation at this time was necessarily small scale... small home-sized pot stills using local grain and family recipes. Today, we would call this "craft" but back then, it was just one of the necessary chores of the family homestead or farm. [Ref: Every Home a Distillery]

The whisky of that time, predominantly made from rye–the local grain–was influenced by region, terroir and local practices. [Ref: The Practical Distiller (1804) by Samuel McHarry] As a towns- person, you could take your horse to a local farm and buy jars of whisky. This was common across the state on the small farm and homestead in the 1700s. That is why we refer to Virginia as the birthplace of American whiskey (well before the dawn of bourbon). In fact, when people started distilling corn mash into bourbon in what is today Kentucky, that land was part of Virginia! Kentucky didn't become a state until 1792. So, we are cheeky to say it, but Virginia is also the birthplace of BOURBON! Elijah Craig was born and raised in Virginia.

Before the revolutionary war, the most common spirit consumed in the colonies was rum. This was due to the high levels of trade between Great Britain, the Caribbean, and the colonies. Sadly, enslaved African people were part of this trade, along with rum, and were crucial to its production.

Everyone in the colonies drank rum, and lots of it. Men drank it; women drank it; children drank it. But it was more than just a drink. Rum was also used for medicines, tinctures, bitters, solvent, mouthwash and many other uses.

When the colonies rebelled against Great Britain and won the revolution, King George III was pissed. He cut off his supply of sugar and rum from the Caribbean. No more rum. This led to a huge, and industrial-sized growth in the next ten years of rye whiskey production. In places like Maryland and Pennsylvania, rye whiskey became big factory productions, and rye became the dominant spirit of the mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia.

After the revolution, General George Washington, now retired from the presidency, established a distillery on his farm at Mount Vernon in Virginia, not far from Washington DC. Washington had been, ironically, responsible for quelling the whisky rebellion in western Pennsylvania, a rebellion caused by the new national government establishing a new liquor excise tax to pay for the debt caused by the revolutionary war. The rebellion was quelled, but Washington now had the distilling bug in his blood. He would found the largest commercial distillery during his lifetime, producing predominantly rye whisky.

As the country passed into the 1800's, the cocktail was invented (1804 is the first documented recipe for a "whisky cocktail", later called the "old fashioned whisky cocktail" and later still, called simply the "old fashioned."). The 1800's saw a huge boom in cocktails and whisky consumption, dominated mostly by the professional bartenders in New York City – and again, the key whiskey ingredient in those Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, etc. was rye whiskey, not bourbon. Rye was king on the east coast. If you were in the “frontier” (western states like Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri), bourbon was likely your whiskey of choice. If you were in New Orleans, you probably enjoyed mostly cognac. [Ref: Imbibe! by David Wondrich] This regional division in spirits remained the case until Prohibition.

And then Prohibition wiped it all out. 1920-1933. Thirteen years. This is a long time for any industry to survive a total and complete ban on its existence. Some distillers survived by producing prescription whiskey, but many closed forever. For example, before Prohibition, there were over 30 large factory distilleries in Pennsylvania alone. After Prohibition, there were none. And none until the first ones re- established in the early 2000s! 67+ years of nothing.

Back to Virginia – So it is this love of rye whisky, the history, the terroir, the spirit, that we celebrate with our Catoctin Creek rye whisky. What does it mean to be The Virginia Rye Whisky? It means we start in Virginia – our home – with local grain, always made from 100% rye, that is mashed and fermented on site, and – this is absolutely essential – distilled in copper pot stills, and then aged in Virginia and other white oak barrels, soaking up the bucolic Virginia climate while it develops flavor from the barrel. The final ingredient, natural Virginia spring water, is used to proof the whisky before bottling, adding another key piece of terroir (limestone and minerals in the water impart flavor) into the spirit. The result is a rye whisky that is authentically made using tradition and the finest agriculture that Virginia offers.

 

Catoctin Creek – The Virginia Rye Whisky™

 

Catoctin Creek Monogram

 

© Copyright 2021, Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

AP: American distillers look to rebuild business in Europe

The EU tariffs on American whiskey are finally gone!  After three long years, we can now compete on a fair basis of free trade.  Bruce Schreiner writes for the Associated Press:

With the trade barrier coming down, Catoctin Creek Distillery in Virginia is looking to start reshipping its rye whiskey to EU markets, said Scott Harris, the distillery’s co-founder and general manager.

“We have a chance to go over to Europe now and compete fairly and bring our products back in at competitive prices,” he said. “This is what we’ve been waiting for the whole time.”

But it could take a few years to regain the lost European business, Harris said.

Read the full story, here.

Latest News

Catoctin Creek - Best of Virginia 2022

Once again, Catoctin Creek has been awarded #1 BEST OF VIRGINIA for Distillery in Northern Virginia in Virginia Living magazine! Nestled* on the banks of its namesake creek, Catoctin opening in 2009 as the first legal distillery in Loudoun County since...

Read more

American Whiskey: Profile on Catoctin Creek

Maggie Kimberl of American Whiskey magazine recently caught up with Becky Harris for an update on the distillery: MK: Catoctin Creek whiskeys have garnered some major accolades over the years. What are you most proud of? RH: This is a really challenging...

Read more

The Spirits Business: Ten female-founded spirits brands

Nice to see Becky included in The Spirits Business roundup of ten female-founded spirits brands on International Women's Day. Becky Harris co-founded Catoctin Creek Distilling Company in Virginia with her husband Scott in 2009. Based in Loudoun County in the north...

Read more

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Catoctin Creek Distillery

Catoctin Creek Distillery
120 W Main St
Purcellville, VA 20132

Tel +1-540-751-8404

catoctincreek.com

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Latest Events

GWAR Ragnarök Rye Release

  JUN 27   GWAR Ragnarök Rye Release 8:00am Eons ago the members of the intergalactic shock rock band known as GWAR descended on this world as passengers on a flaming comet that would bring about...

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Catoctin Creek Bottling Workshop

  JUL 16   Bottling Workshop 10:00am—12:00pm Catoctin Creek Distilling Company will conduct one of our famous Bottling Workshops!  Here's your chance to volunteer and learn how to bottle, cap, seal, and label Roundstone Rye. Get...

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The Art of the Cocktail - The Online Class with John Shope

  Every Fri Art of the Cocktail Class – 2022 Summer Series 7:00pm—9:00pm AS FEATURED IN THE WASHINGTON POST!  Starting July 22, and for six weeks every Friday, John Shope, our Virginia Sales Manager, will...

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