News

February Greetings from Catoctin Creek

Welcome to February!

Last month, Scott & Becky spent some time in Richmond working with the Virginia Distillers Association.  On January 28th, it was "lobbying day," when distillers from across the commonwealth descended on the state capitol to lobby for modernization in ABC liquor laws.  This year, the bill that stands out is SB 824, which would allow distillers in Virginia to directly ship to consumers in the state.  This would be HUGE for us, in that it would allow "wine club" type operations and direct shipping of "onesy-twosy" items to customers without having to go through the onerous state special order process.  If you would like to see this bill passed, you should call your state delegate and senator today!

Virginia Distillers Association

 

Wine Enthusiast Awards

Catoctin Creek earns impressive accolades from Wine Enthusiast tasting panel

All five rye whiskies receive consistent scores of 90 or above

Catoctin Creek has been awarded five scores not lower than 90 out of 100 points for all five rye whiskies submitted to Wine Enthusiast’s tasting panel for the magazine’s upcoming February/March 2020 issue. Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye Whiskey “Distiller’s Edition” was the craft distillery’s highest scoring product, earning a “superb” rating of 94 on the panel’s 100-point scale. The other four products received “excellent” scores of either 90 or 91. Not only are these accolades outstanding, they show the consistency of Catoctin Creek’s brand portfolio across the entire lineup.

“As a distillery dedicated to producing Virginia’s most awarded rye whisky, these are some of the most exciting accolades we've received in our eleven year history. We’re thrilled to be adding additional accolades to our list by the revered Wine Enthusiast panel,” said founder Scott Harris. “The consistent scoring of our rye whisky product line is not only a win for us, but also a win for the Commonwealth of Virginia, where we source our ingredients and hand-craft each product daily.”

The Wine Enthusiast ratings include:

  • 94 points for Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Whisky “Distillers Edition” 92 Proof
  • 91 points for Catoctin Creek Rabble Rouser Rye Whisky 2018 Bottled in Bond
  • 91 points for Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Whisky Cask Proof
  • 90 points for Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Whisky 80 Proof
  • 90 points for Braddock Oak Rye Single Barrel (available only through Total Wine)

Wine Enthusiast hosts the tasting panel annually, reviewing wine, beer and spirits from across the globe. The publication will include Catoctin Creek in their digital tasting panel database starting in February and will release the February/March issue on Feb. 18, 2020.

 

Two New Malt Whisky Releases - TODAY!!

Today, February 1st, at noon, we will release not one, but TWO new whisky expressions. Both of these, first two in this series, are distilled from Beltway Brewing in Sterling, Virginia. The OctoMalt American Malt Whisky began as their OctoIPA, while the Farmhouse Pale Malt started life as their Farmhouse Pale Ale. Each one is totally delicious and a wonderful capture of the beer from the still. Aged two years in charred new oak, they are dark, sumptuous, and with a distinctive floral note from the malts and hops. Members of the Beltway Brewing team will be present at the release, along with Becky Harris, to sign bottles and do Q&A. Bottles are $69.99 each at 92 proof.

Rye Society™ members may contact us at 540-751-3294 to obtain their bottles anytime before the release date.

Malt whisky releases

 

Rabble Rouser Release

On Saturday, February 15, at noon, we will release the Rabble Rouser Bottled in Bond Rye Whisky. Due to better growing reserves, we are happy to report that we have more available to sell! For some of you, this may be the first time you've had a chance to purchase this extremely rare whisky. Of this year's release, only 143 cases have been made, 25 of which will be released in our tasting room (the rest going nationally). Please plan to arrive before noon if you absolutely must have a bottle. Based on previous events, there is no guarantee we will have anything left after Saturday. Bottles are $99 for Rabble Rouser. Due to the extreme rarity of these releases, there will be no tastings offered. More details in the link, here.

Rye Societymembers may call us at 540-751-3294 to obtain a bottle anytime before the release date.

Rabble Rouser

 

Upcoming Events

We have some great events in the coming months. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this season.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

  • February 1 - Two Malt Whisky Releases - Come to the distillery to get your limited edition bottles of American Malt Whisky!
  • February 14 - Art of the Cocktail - Join Scott for an informative and fun class celebrating the bartenders canon! $35/pp
  • February 15 - Rabble Rouser Release - Come to the distillery to get your extremely rare bottles of our Bottled in Bond Rabble Rouser!
  • April 10 - Dinner at the Distillery - Join us for our spring dinner!  Fresh local seasonal produce and an amazing menu! $99/pp

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – The Sunflower

The Sunflower

This cocktail comes to us from Kara Newman's newest book, Shake. Stir. Sip., featuring easy cocktails done in equal parts. What I love about this cocktail, besides its refreshing taste, is that the four (five, really) ingredients combine in such a pleasant way, while being individually unidentifiable in the final drink. In other words, they blend so well into something wholly new, you'd never know that there was (for instance), St. Germain in the beverage. I guess the word I'm looking for here is "synergy," where the end result is greater than the sum of its parts. Regardless of how you analyze it, this drink has been our staple drink through the winter this season.

¾ oz Watershed Gin
¾ oz St. Germain
¾ oz Curaçao or orange liqueur
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
Absinthe rinse

Rinse a chilled coupe with absinthe, then combine the ingredients into a shaker of ice. Shake well, strain into the coupe, and serve with a lemon peel garnish.

Recipe courtesy Kara Newman, Shake. Stir. Sip.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

Happy New Year from Catoctin Creek

Hooray! 2020 is here!

Now in our eleventh year!

Now that 2019 is over and behind us, we hope that 2020 will be prosperous and joyful for you! As we look back, we are grateful for the ability to do what we love, making Virginia's most awarded whisky, and grateful for you, our customers who enjoy what we take so much care to craft.  We have a lot of things in store for 2020.  We will have two new malt whisky releases on February 1st, and later in February, our much anticipated Rabble Rouser release!!  We will also have lots of fun events throughout the year.  Stay tuned!

From our family to yours...

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

Two New Malt Whisky Releases

On Saturday, February 1st, at noon, we will release not one, but TWO new whisky expressions. Both of these, first two in this series, are distilled from Beltway Brewing in Sterling, Virginia. The OctoMalt American Malt Whisky began as their OctoIPA, while the Farmhouse Pale Malt started life as their Farmhouse Pale Ale. Each one is totally delicious and a wonderful capture of the beer from the still. Aged two years in charred new oak, they are dark, sumptuous, and with a distinctive floral note from the malts and hops. Members of the Beltway Brewing team will be present at the release, along with Becky Harris, to sign bottles and do Q&A. Bottles are $69.99 each at 92 proof.

Rye Society™ members may contact us at 540-751-3294 to obtain their bottles anytime before the release date.

Malt whisky releases

 

The Art of the Cocktail - Tour through the "Bartender's Canon"

Our fifth year of this popular class -- presented by Scott Harris, Founder of the Distillery 

Monkey Gland

Catoctin Creek is pleased to present, our FIFTH year of this six-part educational series on the art of the cocktail. This year, we have all new content exploring the canonical books of each generation of bartending since the beginning of cocktails through modern times.

Starting in January, Scott Harris, founder and distiller at Catoctin Creek, will appear in the tasting room every Friday for this six-week series. Beginning at 7pm, Scott will personally guide you through the construction of several cocktails, including the old classics, and modern takes on the cocktail! There will be samples for sharing, and you are encouraged to buy bottles to take home with you and practice. Lots of practice.

This year, we will also have the books used in the class available for sale to take home at discounted prices.

Here is the schedule of the series:

  • January 3 - Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide, How to Mix Drinks, Receipts for Mixing..., published 1862.
  • January 10 - Harry McElhone & Wynn Holcomb, Barflies and Cocktails, 300 Recipes, published 1927.
  • January 17 - Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail Book, published 1930.
  • January 24 - Leo Cotton, ed., Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender's Guide, published 1960.
  • January 31 - Gary Regan, The Bartender's Bible, 1001 Mixed Drinks..., published 1991.
  • February 7 - NO CLASS THIS DAY. We are otherwise occupied this evening.
  • February 14 - Kara Newman, Shake. Stir. Sip., published 2016.

NOTICE ON SNOW DAYS: If we have to cancel a class because of weather, we will reschedule the date to February 21, February 28, etc. Your reservation will be honored for the snow date, or you may get a refund if you are unable to make the new date.

If you don't know anything about cocktails, you'll love this class. If you're already an expert, come and enjoy some casual conversation and a few drinks. The cost is $35 per person and includes drinks. Sign up for all six and receive two FREE Catoctin Creek rocks glasses.

Each session is $35 per person (VIP members 20% off), and includes four cocktails.

Book Now

Info This class will fill up, so reserve your spot now! Due to overwhelming demand and the intimate size of our tasting room, space is limited to the first 30 people responding.

Per ABC laws, cocktail samples will be limited to four pours with 0.5 oz of liquor in each pour. Certain mixer limitations will apply.

White Manhattan

 

Robert BurnsBurns Dinner at Oatlands

Burns Night is a tradition dating back a hundred years or more celebrating Scotland's national bard, Robert Burns. If you've been to one, you'll know what a rousing good time it is, and if you've not been before, you're in for a real treat. We'll be hosting the annual tradition at Oatlands on Jan. 25, 6:30pm.

Dinner will be a formal Scottish affair, with roasted lamb, neeps and tatties (potatoes and squash), and of course, the traditional haggis! (Be brave, young soul, and try some!) Oh, and lest we forget, there will be whisky and poetry flowing, provided by Scott Harris and Catoctin Creek Distillery. (Bring a poem to share!) Kilted attire suggested, but not required. Tie and jacket suggested.

For more information or to make your reservation, click here.

 

Upcoming Events

Wow!  We have some great events in the coming months. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this month.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

  • January 3 - February 4 - Art of the Cocktail - Join Scott for an informative and fun class celebrating flavors of the world! $35/pp
  • January 25 - Burns Dinner at Oatlands - A Scottish tradition! Great food, song, drink, whisky, and even haggis! $120/pp
  • February 1 - Two Malt Whisky Releases - Come to the distillery to get your limited edition bottles of American Malt Whisky!

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – Cranberry Spiced Old Fashioned

Cran Spiced Old Fashioned

Here's a new account for you to follow: @theboozygay from Spring, Texas. Eddie Harris is the owner of the account, and also happens to be the son of the founders. When he's not full-time ambassador for Catoctin Creek in Texas, he enjoys walks on the beach, piña coladas, and making cocktails. This one is his latest: "This week's cocktail of the week says Merry Christmas in a very boozy way!"

1 oz Copper and Kings Brandy (or Catoctin Creek 1757 Virginia Brandy, if you prefer)
1 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
⅔ oz of cranberry syrup*
Dash of bitters

Stir and enjoy over a big rock in a rocks glass. Garnish with cranberries on a toothpick.

Cranberry syrup
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 bag of cranberries
1 tsp nutmeg

Combine all over low heat until mixed, at least one hour. Strain and remove the cranberries. Keep syrup in refrigerator for up to three months.

Recipe and photo courtesy @theboozygay and used with permission.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

Seasons Greetings from Catoctin Creek

December is here! 

Happy Holidays to you all!  Christmas and Hanukkah are quickly approaching, and our thoughts turn to unwinding from the stress of our daily lives and spending more time with friends and family this month.  It is such a gift to be alive, and to be with the ones we love.  We at Catoctin Creek are particularly blessed to be doing what we love, and to have customers like yourselves who enjoy our craft.  

So, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and may there be Peace on Earth in our lifetime!

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!  

Photo credit: @justinccdc 

 

Gift Items This Holiday Season

Stop by our tasting room this holiday season and pick up one of our exciting gift items for the holiday.  Spirits are the perfect gift for those fussy relatives who already have everything!  Give them something local, hand-crafted, and totally unique this year!

We have gift packs of our flagship products:  Roundstone Rye, Watershed Gin, and a Glencairn glass in cute little 200 mL bottles, all displayed in a handsome custom gift box.  We also have hand-wrapped gift baskets with your choice of spirits, glassware, and bar accessories like bitters and cocktail books.  We'll gladly make you a custom basket while you wait.  Finally, if you just can't decide, you can pick up a gift card for any amount at our store (or call us, we'll mail it to you).

There's pretty much something for anyone on your list!  Stop by soon and see for yourself!

Gift Ideas from Catoctin Creek

 

The Art of the Cocktail - Tour through the "Bartender's Canon"

Our fifth year of this popular class -- presented by Scott Harris, Founder of the Distillery 

Monkey Gland

Catoctin Creek is pleased to present, our FIFTH year of this six-part educational series on the art of the cocktail. This year, we have all new content exploring the canonical books of each generation of bartending since the beginning of cocktails through modern times.

Starting in January, Scott Harris, founder and distiller at Catoctin Creek, will appear in the tasting room every Friday for this six-week series. Beginning at 7pm, Scott will personally guide you through the construction of several cocktails, including the old classics, and modern takes on the cocktail! There will be samples for sharing, and you are encouraged to buy bottles to take home with you and practice. Lots of practice.

This year, we will also have the books used in the class available for sale to take home at discounted prices.

Here is the schedule of the series:

  • January 3 - Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide, How to Mix Drinks, Receipts for Mixing..., published 1862.
  • January 10 - Harry McElhone & Wynn Holcomb, Barflies and Cocktails, 300 Recipes, published 1927.
  • January 17 - Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail Book, published 1930.
  • January 24 - Leo Cotton, ed., Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender's Guide, published 1960.
  • January 31 - Gary Regan, The Bartender's Bible, 1001 Mixed Drinks..., published 1991.
  • February 7 - NO CLASS THIS DAY. We are otherwise occupied this evening.
  • February 14 - Kara Newman, Shake. Stir. Sip., published 2016.

NOTICE ON SNOW DAYS: If we have to cancel a class because of weather, we will reschedule the date to February 21, February 28, etc. Your reservation will be honored for the snow date, or you may get a refund if you are unable to make the new date.

If you don't know anything about cocktails, you'll love this class. If you're already an expert, come and enjoy some casual conversation and a few drinks. The cost is $35 per person and includes drinks. Sign up for all six and receive two FREE Catoctin Creek rocks glasses.

Each session is $35 per person (VIP members 20% off), and includes four cocktails.

Book Now

Info This class will fill up, so reserve your spot now! Due to overwhelming demand and the intimate size of our tasting room, space is limited to the first 30 people responding.

Per ABC laws, cocktail samples will be limited to four pours with 0.5 oz of liquor in each pour. Certain mixer limitations will apply.

White Manhattan

 

Upcoming Events

Wow!  We have some great events in the coming months. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this month.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

  • December 13 - Holiday Dinner at the Distillery - Fine dining at the distillery.  Join Scott and Becky for a four-course dinner with cocktail pairings. $99/pp SOLD OUT
  • December 21 - Bottling Workshop - Always free to public, and a fun morning of breakfast, bottling and tastings!  FREE!
  • December 25 - CHRISTMAS DAY - We will be CLOSED to be with friends and family.
  • January 1 - NEW YEARS DAY - We will be CLOSED due to massive hangovers.
  • January 3 - February 4 - Art of the Cocktail - Join Scott for an informative and fun class celebrating flavors of the world! $35/pp
  • January 25 - Burns Dinner at Oatlands - A Scottish tradition! Great food, song, drink, whisky, and even haggis! $120/pp

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – Bucky Barnes

Bucky Barnes

This cocktail is a modification of one that was in Whisky Advocate. The original recipe had a rather complicated pear/persimmon/clove brown simple syrup, which I'm sure is lovely, but I just finished canning a dozen cans of fresh persimmon jam, and so I wanted to use that instead. I've tweaked things around a bit while still honoring the original ingredients and proportions. And honestly, it came out great!!

This cocktail is the embodiment of November. You can serve it as a sling (cold, with an ice cube), or warm it gently and serve as a toddy.

3 oz Roundstone Rye 92 Proof
1 oz Nonino amaro
½ oz brown sugar syrup or molasses syrup
½ oz persimmon jam
2 oz pear juice
dash of vanilla extract
dash of woodland bitters

Vigorously shake all the ingredients in a shaker of ice. Double-strain and serve with a big rock in a rocks glass. Serves two.

Recipe and photo courtesy Scott Harris, variation on a recipe in Whisky Advocate.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

November News from Catoctin Creek

Autumn at Catoctin Creek Distillery

Moving into November.

Perfect for the coming holiday season

ANNOUNCING!  20% off on Black Friday! - One day only, the Virginia ABC will be offering 20% off on most liquor products in our tasting room!  Come in on Friday, November 29 or miss out forever! Tasting room only.

As we finally move into the cooler days and nights of autumn, don't forget, Catoctin Creek is a perfect companion.  A glass of whisky is a delightful treat after a long day of raking leaves on those blustery evenings!  You could serve your Thanksgivings guests a wonderful cocktail party before the big feast, or grab a bottle or two for those hard-to-shop-for friends and relatives.  Roundstone Rye is a gift sure to please!

For more gift ideas, be sure to check out our list of events below, and bring your friends and family to something fun and truly one-of-a-kind.

Happy November, all!

 

Catoctin Creek included in Loudoun Virginia's top 40 business moments 1979-2019

Scott & Becky Harris

We are so honored to be included in Loudoun County's history timeline of top 40 business moments from 1979 - 2019:

Catoctin Creek, Loudoun’s First Distillery Since Prohibition, Opens in Purcellville

Scott and Becky Harris started Loudoun’s first post-Prohibition distillery during the heart of the recession, with funding from personal finances, an SBA loan, and help from neighbors and friends in the community. Now sold in 26 U.S. states and in Europe and Asia, Catoctin Creek has won the most awards of any whiskey made in Virginia.

You can read the full story, here. Photograph courtesy Kristen Dill.

 

The Art of the Cocktail - Our 5th Year - Tour through the "Bartender's Canon"

Monkey Gland

Catoctin Creek is pleased to present, our FIFTH year of this six-part educational series on the art of the cocktail. This year, we have all new content exploring the canonical books of each generation of bartending since the beginning of cocktails through modern times.

Starting in January, Scott Harris, founder and distiller at Catoctin Creek, will appear in the tasting room every Friday for this six-week series. Beginning at 7pm, Scott will personally guide you through the construction of several cocktails, including the old classics, and modern takes on the cocktail! There will be samples for sharing, and you are encouraged to buy bottles to take home with you and practice. Lots of practice.

This year, we will also have the books used in the class available for sale to take home at discounted prices.

Here is the schedule of the series:

  • January 3 - Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide, How to Mix Drinks, Receipts for Mixing..., published 1862.
  • January 10 - Harry McElhone & Wynn Holcomb, Barflies and Cocktails, 300 Recipes, published 1927.
  • January 17 - Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail Book, published 1930.
  • January 24 - Leo Cotton, ed., Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender's Guide, published 1935.
  • January 31 - Gary Regan, The Bartender's Bible, 1001 Mixed Drinks..., published 1991.
  • February 7 - NO CLASS THIS DAY. We are otherwise occupied this evening.
  • February 14 - Kara Newman, Shake. Stir. Sip., published 2016.

 

If you don't know anything about cocktails, you'll love this class. If you're already an expert, come and enjoy some casual conversation and a few drinks. The cost is $35 per person and includes drinks. Sign up for all six and receive two FREE Catoctin Creek rocks glasses.

What: Art of the Cocktail
Where: 120 W. Main Street
Purcellville, Virginia
When: Every Friday from January 3 to February 14
(some exceptions, see above)
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Price:

Each session:
$35 per person (VIP members 50% off)

(includes four cocktails)

Book Now

Info This class will fill up, so reserve your spot now! Due to overwhelming demand and the intimate size of our tasting room, space is limited to the first 30 people responding.

Per ABC laws, cocktail samples will be limited to four pours with 0.5 oz of liquor in each pour.

Bartender's Canon

 

Upcoming Events

We have some great events coming up. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

  • Nov 4 - Battle of the Bartenders - Northern Virginia's ultimate cocktail competition! $65/pp
  • Nov 16 - Bottling Workshop - Join us for this always fun, always free workshop and bottle your own whisky! FREE
  • Nov 17 - Jim Malcolm Concert - Scotland's troubadour back for another concert!  $25/pp
  • Nov 22 - Lighting of the Vines - Join us at Bluemont Vineyard for this once a year collaborative event!  $139/pp
  • Dec 13 - Dinner at the Distillery - Join us for our Christmas dinner at the distillery. $99/pp SOLD OUT
  • Dec 21 - Bottling Workshop - Join us for this always fun, always free workshop and bottle your own whisky! FREE
  • Jan - Feb - Art of the Cocktail - This year, we will be studying the original books in cocktail history. $35/pp
  • Jan 25 - Burns Dinner at Oatlands - A Scottish tradition, we'll celebrate the life of Robert Burns with a wonderful feast! $120/pp

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – The Virginia Commonwealth

The Virginia Commonwealth

This cocktail comes to us from Nathan Wilkinson, @jollybartender on Instagram. It is a wonderful celebration of Commonwealth featuring two of its best distilleries:

This cocktail shows off Catoctin Creek’s Distillers Edition Roundstone Rye with Mt. Defiance Sweet Vermouth—two great Virginia distilleries.

3 oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Distiller's Edition
½ oz Mt. Defiance Sweet Vermouth
½ oz Ramazzotti amaro
3 dashes Hella orange bitters
Lemon zest garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker of ice. Stir and strain into a coupe and garnish.

Cocktail and photo courtesy Nathan Wilkinson, and used with permission.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

October is here! - Catoctin Creek News

Sourcing products locally is important to us.

Our visit to Anchor Hocking in Monaca, Pennsylvania

Back in May 2017, Becky and I had the privilege to visit our bottle supplier, Anchor Hocking, in Western Pennsylvania, pretty close to Pittsburgh. We drove four hours early one weekday morning to go see our Catoctin Creek bottles being manufactured. If you have never been in a glass factory, you should go.  It is one of the most amazing factory experiences I've ever seen.  (Click on the image to the right to see how they're made.)

Ten years ago, when we started Catoctin Creek, our mission was to use all American and local content, not just in the rye grain and fruits we source, but also in every component of the product, including labels, closures, and yes, even bottles. This proved most difficult in glass, as most commercial glass today is made in China or Latin America. However, we worked really hard to find a local supplier, and came upon Anchor Hocking. Anchor Hocking has a glorious and beleaguered past, so much so that a book was written about their rise and fall, a book which illustrates much of the decline in manufacturing in middle America today. Fortunately, Anchor Hocking has turned the corner, and we are very proud to be using Pennsylvania glass for the past six years now! Our efforts to use local glass help employ over 300 people at the Anchor Hocking plant in Monaca.

We're proud to source locally! Money spent locally gets invested locally, and the economy grows locally. Good American jobs are created and maintained. Kids are sent to school. Groceries are bought. Purposeful life happens.

So, to that I say, CHEERS this month from Virginia to Pennsylvania! A little "Virginia Love" to the Keystone State!

 

Battle of the Bartenders!

Battle of the BartendersNorthern Virginia's Ultimate Cocktail Competition

Back for it's second year!!  One night only!  Local bartenders will compete for the title of Northern Virginia's BEST bartender.  This a "Chopped" secret ingredient style competition, where bartenders will be given a challenge to construct a drink with ingredients revealed through the night.  You'll get to sample each cocktail, and vote on the winner! 

Your entry includes appetizers from Ahso.  Proceeds go to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. 

Bartenders competing in the competition:

  • Jon Schott - The People's Drug, Alexandria
  • Nikki Drake - 2941 Restaurant, Falls Church
  • Eric Bowers - Magnolia's at the Mill, Purcellville
  • Erin Robertson - Ahso Restaurant, Brambleton
  • Alex Moreno - Circa at Clarendon, Clarendon
  • Chris West - The Wine Kitchen, Leesburg

Celebrity judges for the night:

  • Michael Saccone, Thrashers Rum & Tiki TNT
  • Stefanie Gans, Northern Virginia Magazine
  • Scott Harris, founder of Catoctin Creek Distillery

Last year's champion, Phil Duong of Ahso Restaurant, will welcome everybody with a starter cocktail to get the night flowing!

Book now because space is limited, and tickets are almost sold out! $65 per person, includes all cocktails, appetizers, etc.

 

Now Available in Mexico!

Roundstone Rye to be sold in Guadalajara, Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas

Last month, we shipped our first pallet of rye whisky to Mexico!  This marks our entry into the Latin American market, partnering with Viparmex, a company that has sold premium wines and spirits in Mexico for over a generation.

"We are very proud and excited to start our partnership in Mexico with Catoctin Creek Distilling Company," said Wesley Alejandro Rodriguez, CEO and partner of Viparmex. "We think the superb quality of their products, along with the Virginia whisky distilling tradition, will be an immediate success in our market. Mexico is experiencing an important increase of mixologists looking for quality products, especially in companies focused on quality with a true craft identity."

More information can be found in the press release, here.

 

Upcoming Events

We have some great events coming up. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – The Blueberry Sour

Blueberry Sour

Blueberries are under-appreciated in cocktails.  Their flavor is unique, but one thing you can always count on from blueberries is a gorgeous natural color.  In this recipe, to preserve that beautiful deep violet hue, we opted to use citric acid water instead of lemon juice.  The flavor will be nearly the same, but the citric acid is clear, whereas the lemon would be cloudy and dull the color in the blueberries.  You can get citric acid (as with most things) online in granulated form.

2 oz Roundstone Rye 80 Proof
1 oz citric water (6 tsp citric to 4½ cups of water, more or less to taste)
½ oz honey simple (1:1 honey with hot water)
½ oz blueberry simple syrup (steep blueberries in simple syrup for at least an hour, remove solids)
lemon wedge garnish

Combine the ingredients in a shaker of ice, shake, and strain into a Nick and Nora glass with ice.  Garnish with lemon.

Recipe courtesy Denise Petty.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

September is Virginia Spirits Month! - Catoctin Creek News

It's 5 o'clock for the whole month of September!

Virginia Spirits Month

September is VIRGINIA SPIRITS MONTH! Join us for the month-long party! We're talking special discounts with Virginia ABC, in-store tastings, spirits festivals, the launch of our new Virginia Spirits Trail and MORE, happening near you and beyond!

  • Catoctin Creek TastingsVirginia Spirits Day is Sept. 5 - 20% Discount! - All across the Commonwealth, online, and in every ABC store including our tasting room, Roundstone Rye 80 Proof is 20% off (a savings of over $9 per bottle).  One day only!! - Details here.
  • Discounts all month long - 5% off Roundstone Rye 92 Proof "Distiller's Edition" and Watershed Gin.
  • Launch of the Virginia Spirits Trail - In partnership with Virginia Tourism, we have some cool new maps, and if you visit 10 or more distilleries, you'll get a free t-shirt!  Pick up your free map at any participating distillery, or get one online, here.
  • ABC store tastings throughout the state - Visit with one of our friendly ambassadors at your local ABC store. Take a taste; buy a bottle!  Full schedule of stores, here.
  • Virginia Spirits Roadshows - We'll offer samplings and a chance to speak with local distillers:

For full information, click: http://www.virginiaspirits.org/september-2019/

Cheers to September!!

Roadshow Roadshow Roadshow

Roadshow VA Spirits Trail

Roadshow Roadshow Roadshow

Now Available!

Roundstone Rye Cask Proof - HICKORY SYRUP BARREL FINISH

Cask Roof Hickory FinishThis month, we have the Roundstone Rye Cask Proof - Hickory Syrup Barrel finished whisky on sale in the tasting room.  This whisky was aged for two years in our regular white oak barrels, and then finished in a barrel used to age hickory syrup from Falling Bark Farm.  The resulting whisky is a full, rich, smoky, whisky with chewy chocolate toffee flavors, sour apple, honey, leather and raw tobacco.  This is decadent and perfect for sipping.  Come in and try a sample in the tasting room and pick up a bottle while they last!

(The Falling Bark syrup is amazing too, and we sell that in the tasting room as well! Perfect for Sunday morning pancakes!)

$89.90 per 750mL bottle, 58% ABV.

 

Upcoming Events

We have some great events in May. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this month.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

And a sneak peak at November:

  • Nov 4 - Battle of the Bartenders! - Back for our 2nd year, local area bartenders battle in this "Food Network style" competition, and you are the judge!  $65/pp

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – The Lumber Yard

This one comes to us from Nightcap Cocktail Company, which you can find on Instagram at @nightcapcocktailco or on their web site.

The air is misty. You just woke up. Your flannel shirt is exuding the smell of last night’s campfire. You leave the log cabin that you built by hand, pick up your axe, and head out for a day’s work.

or... it’s five o’clock on a Thursday and one sip of Catoctin Creek’s cask-proof edition rye has you literally dreaming. Spec below, so you can dream, too.

2 oz Catoctin Creek Cask Proof Roundstone Rye
¼ oz black birch syrup
2 dashes star-anise bitters

Stir over ice. Smoke glass with applewood, anise, and cinnamon. Strain into old fashioned glass with large block of clear ice. Garnish with torched orange wedge.

Recipe courtesy Nightcap Cocktail Company; photo by Hilary Hyland and used with permission.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

August Greetings from Catoctin Creek - The Birthplace of American Whiskey

Happy August! 

Virginia, the Birthplace of American Whiskey... 

Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.  (Photo credit:  Getty Images. Used under license.)

Two of the reasons we started Catoctin Creek Distillery were (1) our love of whiskey, and (2) our love for Virginia.  Many Americans, when asked, "What is America's native spirit?" will answer, "Bourbon!"  This is actually incorrect, as the first whiskey to be enjoyed in America was actually rye whiskey from Virginia, which predates bourbon by about 100 years.  Prohibition did many things, including wiping out most of the old family-run distilleries of the 1800's, but it also gave us a cultural amnesia when it comes to our alcoholic history. So, please allow me to illustrate that history for you here:

When the British started coming to America in the 1600s and more massively in the 1700s, the spirits they drank were almost exclusively rum.  This was because sugar was easy to obtain in the Caribbean, and trade routes brought both raw sugar, molasses, and finished rum to America.  It was used in all kinds of ways, from making punch to making tinctures and medicines.  Rum was the king spirit in a land full of citizens of the British crown.  When the colonists rebelled against King George III, going as far as to declare war against him, he got rather peeved and cut off the supply of sugar, molasses and rum coming into the country.  Americans were an enterprising sort, and after the war in the 1780s and 1790s, having found themselves in a country with many Scots, Irish, and English peoples, lots of arable land, and we must acknowledge a large enslaved African work-force, colonists began making whiskey in large scale for the first time.  Distilling whiskey had always been done for many years in America; nearly every small-grain farm was producing small amounts for home consumption.  But with the rum gone, and many new city dwellers to quench, whiskey production goes commercial.  In the states from Virginia, through Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and even up into Canada, the grain that grew best was rye (not corn).  And so rye whiskey production goes big and goes commercial.

George Washington, our first president and revolutionary general, had retired at his estate at Mount Vernon, and began producing rye whiskey commercially.  His distillery was the largest commercial distillery during his lifetime.  His biggest production was rye whiskey. 

Those early settlers in the "wild west" who started to experiment with corn (a grain introduced to them by the Native Americans), would start producing corn whiskey that we today call Bourbon.  In those early days, however, Kentucky territory was still called Virginia!  (Kentucky doesn't become a state until 1794.)  And so it may be cheeky to say it--I'll say it anyway--Virginia is also the birthplace of Bourbon! 

Therefore, we honor Virginia and the birthplace of American whiskey.  What we produce at Catoctin Creek is meant to honor that spirit that would have been very common in our area in the 1800's.  So drink a glass and let your imagination wander a bit, and you might just find yourself transported back to a simpler time.

Cheers! 
 

Upcoming Events

We have some great events in May. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this month.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – The Uranus

Uranus

We frequently will dive into the Tiki genre with our whiskey. Some may regard rum as the sole heir to Tiki cocktails, but quoting Matt Perkins, the beverage manager at Magnolias at the Mill, "If you argue about whether or not it's Tiki, you're entirely missing the point of Tiki."

This cocktail comes to us from @adventuresofriad on Instagram, and we're very impressed with this cool summertime refresher:

The #cocktail group I’m in feels like that this summer should be dedicated to #mezcal tiki cocktails, and I whole-heartedly agree! Here’s a #riff on one of my #favorite tiki cocktails the #Saturn

The Saturn is initially made with gin, falernum, orgeat, passion, and lemon and it’s blended as well!

My take is a little more #fun than that! I’m calling it the Uranus because there’s a lot going on in Uranus! 😘 it features some of my #favorite ingredients in a fantastic #amalgamation of #love in a glass!

¾ oz El Silencio Mezcal
¾ oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz passion fruit juice
¼ Luxardo maraschino liqueuer
2 barspoons creme de violette

Split base of mezcal and rye whisky with passion fruit purée, fresh squeezed lime juice Luxardo maraschino and creme de violette strained over crushed ice in a glass rimmed with tajin and garnish simply with mint (but go crazy because the bigger the garnish the better ).

Cocktail and photo courtesy of @adventuresofriad and used with permission.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

July Greetings from Catoctin Creek - Bespoke Bitters with a Virginia Accent

Happy July! 

Telling a Story with Flavor... 

Roundstone Bitters

This month, I'd like to feature a story from Modern Bar Cart founder Eric Kozlik: 

One of our very first retail partners – almost half a decade ago – was Catoctin Creek Distilling Co., based out of beautiful Purcellville, Virginia. They were one of the first craft distilleries in the region, and when tasting room manager Denise Petty and brand rep John Shope asked me to work with them to develop a bitters flavor to pair with their award winning Roundstone Rye, to say I was excited would be a vast understatement.

I rolled into their tasting room on a weekday several months ago, and we all sat down at their horseshoe-shaped bar, nosing and happily tasting that Roundstone Rye, looking for inspiration. But we all realized that the first major hurdle we had to confront was:

How do you build a bitters flavor to accentuate or pay tribute to one particular product? Not an entire category of spirits or a type of cocktail – but one bottle with a unique fingerprint all its own.

Now, I’m sure there’s multiple answers to this question, but because my background is in psychology and creative writing, my solution was to build a flavor by telling a story.

When I interviewed John and Denise about what Roundstone Rye is all about – the answer, in large part, turned out to be: Virginia. Being situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the Virginia countryside, the people who make and sell this beautiful liquid can’t help but be inspired by the sights, smells, and flavors all around them.

So I quizzed them – and we came up with three quintessential Virginia flavors that we really wanted to highlight:

  • The first was chicory, which is a flowering member of the dandelion family. We used the root of this plant, which has been used for centuries as a tea or coffee substitute, to provide a savory, slightly bitter backbone for the bitters. Because of the other ingredients in the mix, which I’ll cover in a second, we opted against the roasted variety – which can be fairly intense. Instead, the role that chicory root plays in this product is very similar to the role that many gin distillers say orris root plays in their spirits. It’s a binder, giving a pleasant earthy canvas upon which the other botanicals can dance.
  • Next, we entered the world of aroma and nostalgia with the addition of honeysuckle flowers. These long, fluted orange blossoms are heavy with sweetness and evoke warm summer nights sitting on the porch watching fireflies flick on and off in the yard. The aroma of honeysuckle and the flavor are pretty close – and it’s hard to describe, but once you encounter it in the world, it’s a highly perfumed sensation you’ll never forget.
  • Finally, as an homage to Virginia, we selected the regal rose, featuring its dried buds and petals in our Roundstone bitters formulation. Although the flowering dogwood is the state flower – and features prominently in the Roundstone logo on the front of the bitters label – The Virginia Rose is a common flower that grows wild in the woods across the region, so we thought it would be fitting to give it a nod in our recipe.

Now, unfortunately, three botanicals does not a bitters make. So although this was a great start, we now needed to decide how we’d ultimately round out the formulation to make it really jive with the Roundstone rye. Because when you think of rye, you don’t really think of pairing with exclusively floral ingredients, so something else needed to come into the fold.

Now, one thing I really love about Roundstone Rye is that it was the rye that turned me onto rye. I was a baby in the world of spirits when I first tried it, and to be honest, I was bracing myself for something dark, spicy, and feisty. Instead, I was greeted with a spirit that was round, affable, and almost fruity, which says a lot about master distiller Becky Harris’s fermentation and distillation methods.

So thinking about this flavor profile and thinking about the most iconic use case for rye – the Manhattan – we decided we needed to get some citrus notes involved in the form of orange, bitter orange, and grapefruit.

After several test batches and in-depth tasting and pairing sessions, where we gradually pipetted the bitters into the rye with more or less dilution, and with the addition of a few other key botanicals, we finally arrived at what we were looking for:

A cocktail bitters with enough bright citrus to make a gorgeous Manhattan, with plenty of quintessentially Virginian ingredients, and most importantly, something completely unique and completely integrated into the story of the Roundstone Rye.

This is where most collaboration projects fall short, and it’s also where a lot of at-home consumers don’t have the resources to commit to ingredient sourcing, concept development, and iteration. That’s why you get a lot of great fruit, vegetable, and berry-driven bitters coming out of the home garden, herb garden, or fruit tree, but these tend to be extremely seasonal and hard to replicate.

So if you’re a home bitters maker, I hope these Roundstone bitters inspire you to go down all the rabbit holes and really think about the greater story that your creations tell through their flavor profiles.

Read the entire story, here, and listen to the podcast, here.

You can buy the bitters in our distillery tasting room or online at Modern Bar Cart.

 

Daily Beast - What music embodies rye whiskey?

Missy Elliott

Photograph by Atlantic Records, used under license, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45577655.

The Daily Beast asked rye distillers around the country to tell us what their spirits taste like by comparing them to music.  Of the various responses, most were by men choosing artists who are also men.  That is what it's like being a woman in a man's whiskey world.  Becky Harris, our founder and distiller (and my wife), mixed it up a little bit, and I think Becky nails it here:

Whiskey, like music, is primarily viewed through a male lens, and I wanted to shout one out for the ladies. Doreen St. Felix wrote about Missy Elliott in the New Yorker, ‘hip-hop artists are musicologists, and sampling is one way histories are folded into the present.’ Like Elliott, another Commonwealth native, we pull influences from all corners and filter them through our Virginia mindset. We take the rye of the past, and... flip it, and reverse it. Catoctin Creek created a new aesthetic for rye: toggling between chill, fruity, and bold spice.

You can read the full story, here.  

 

Día de los Muertos Release, July 6

Día de los MuertosThe Day of the Dead comes early this year!  This whisky was made in collaboration with Adroit Theory Brewing Company, the mad geniuses of the local beer world! Aged at 4.6+ years old, this beer started with Adroit's famous Russian Imperial Stout, which we distilled and aged for over four years. The resulting whisky is full-bodied, rich, overflowing with notes of caramel, rich malt, chocolate, and honey-rubbed leather. It is simply incredible! Due to the terrible "angel's share" in Virginia, there was a ton of evaporation on this spirit in the barrel. The good news is that means that the resulting alcohol is super-concentrated and especially delicious. The bad news is that we have less to sell. ONLY 147 BOTTLES AVAILABLE! Each bottle comes with a custom-made cedar gift box, and is priced at $159.99. Available in our tasting room only! Limit one bottle per customer. We seriously recommend lining up for this one. It will sell out in the first hour. Becky Harris (chief distiller) and Mark Osborne (founder, Adroit Theory) will be present to sign bottles and chat.

Members of the Rye Society may call us to obtain their bottle before the release date. If you're interested in joining the Rye Society, subscribe on the button below.

Subscribe Now

 

Upcoming Events

We have some great events in May. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this month.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – Sunshine & Spice & Lemon on Ice

Sunshine and Spice and Lemon on Ice

This cocktail is re-posted from @bitbyafox on Instagram. Prairie Rose writes:

On Monday, I did a live tasting of @catoctincreek’s Distiller’s Edition 92 Proof Rye Whisky. And I’ve been playing around with it ever since (as you can tell from this half empty bottle!) Because of its higher proof, I love that it can stand up to a lot of different kinds of ingredients. Like Galliano Liqueur and lemon curd, for instance! I wanted to highlight the bright lemon zest in this rye, and lean into the warmer weather with a sunshiny cocktail recipe. Stay tuned for my interview with@catoctincreek founder @scohar70 on the #bitbyafoxpodcast tomorrow!

2 oz Catoctin Creek Distiller’s Reserve Rye Whisky
3/4 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz Galliano Liqueur
1 tablespoon of lemon curd
🍒 🍋 garnish

Add all ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish.

Recipe and photo courtesy Bit by a Fox and used with permission.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

June Greetings from Catoctin Creek - The story behind our logos

Happy June! 

A little backstory on our logos...

 

Catoctin Creek Roundel Up Close

Our roundel, the circular medallion which sits atop our full logo, symbolizes the land that infuses every bottle we produce—the Commonwealth of Virginia. We love our home: her picturesque mountains, beaches, horse-farms, and beautiful Appalachian woods.  Virginia was one of America's original thirteen colonies, and Virginians were among the first in our nation to make rye whiskey.  Not least of which was George Washington, who distilled rye whiskey commercially at his Mt. Vernon farm. In fact, when people started distilling corn into Bourbon whiskey in what is today called Kentucky, yes, that land was still called "Virginia." (Kentucky didn't become a state until 1792.)

So, we proudly celebrate Virginia as the birthplace of American whiskey. As an homage to Virginia, we've adorned our logo with her state flower, the flowering dogwood. 

Our Monogram

Catoctin Creek Monogram Up CloseMonograms are a very old tradition, dating back even to Roman times. The oldest known monograms were found on early 6th century BCE Roman coins, which were marked with the ruler's initials to authenticate and legitimize them. Throughout the middle ages, a wax seal with a monogram was a mark of authenticity. Our Catoctin Creek monogram is our mark of quality. Where ever you find it stamped, rest assured that we take pride in and vouch for the quality of the products contained therein..

If you look closely at the monogram, you can make out the fanciful script letters "C C D Co", for Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, with all the letters intertwined as to become a single meaningful unit.

 

Maxim   

Three AMAZING national news stories in May!

Sometimes, when it rains, it pours, and we had a flood of national press last month!  Check out these great articles:

  • Rabble Rouser featured as one of 10 best in Maxim- "You can make a good cocktail with Rabble Rouser, but maybe save this one for sipping on its own." - link here.
  • Becky Harris featured in American Whiskey magazine - An interview with Becky on starting the distillery - link here.
  • Becky Harris featured in Rachel Ray magazine - 10 female pioneers in the spirits industry - link here.

 Go check out more of our news, here.

 

Private Barrel Select Whisky

Cask Purchase ProgramDid you know that we offer private barrel select whisky to the public?  Whiskey writer Fred Minnick in his Bourbon Pursuit podcast recently said, "Catoctin Creek is putting out some of the most interesting barrel picks today."  We agree!  We look for unusual barrels to finish our whisky, or make available experimental grain runs and other differences in distillation, and the results of all those efforts find their way into the barrel select program.  So, if you, or your club, restaurant or liquor store are looking for 30-60 cases of delicious and totally unique single barrel rye whisky, this program may be for you! 

The Catoctin Creek® Barrel Program allows you to own a one of a kind whisky expression.  What you get:

  • Approximately 30 cases of whisky (180 bottles) of your own private, hand chosen stock
  • VIP tour of the distillery
  • Four 50 ml barrel samples to choose the flavor of your choice, specially chosen from our rickhouse
  • One 30 gallon Catoctin Creek barrel for your location
  • Alcohol proof of your choice (final price will vary by proof)
  • Custom bottle label with your logo on it!
  • Invitation to be part of the bottling process at the distillery!  A great thing for staff training, team building, or special VIP customers.
  • Product staff training available

Pricing varies depending on proof selected, available through select distributors. Wholesale pricing may be available for some retailers.  Please contact us if you are interested.

You may download the Barrel Select Program brochure, here.  Full terms and conditions, here.

 

Upcoming Events

We have some great events in May. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this month.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – Summertime Rooftop Cocktails

Rooftop Cocktails

This month, we had a fabulous inaugural "Dinner on the Rooftop" in collaboration with the Wine Kitchen and Loudoun Mobile Hope. Among the treats for the night were two amazing cocktails that the team at Catoctin Creek created. These are fantastic summer cocktails, especially if made into a punch (just multiply everything by 25 for punch).

Hope on the Rooftop

1 oz strawberry-infused Watershed Gin
¼ oz strawberry-rhubarb syrup
¼ oz sour water (¼ tsp citric acid + 1½ oz water), or lemon juice as a substitute
Soda to top
Rhubarb bitters
Black locust blossoms to garnish

Macerate the strawberries in the gin for at least two days. Strain and remove the fruit. To make the syrup, macerate chunks of strawberry and rhubarb in equal parts sugar and water. Heat over medium heat until well dissolved. Then strain the fruit from the syrup. In a shaker, add the sour water, gin and syrup and combine well. Pour into a rocks glass full of ice and top with soda and garnish.

Lay Me "Doun"

1 oz Roundstone Rye 80 Proof
¼ oz Rose Garden Tea (available from Dominion Tea) made into a simple syrup
Lavender bitters
Lemon peel garnish

Combine the ingredients into a rocks glass with ice and garnish.

Cocktail recipes courtesy Denise Petty.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

May Greetings from Catoctin Creek - The strangest thing happened today...

Happy May! 

The most unusual things happen sometimes!

Scott & Becky at the potstillWhat would you do if you walked into your house one day, and everything you own had turned purple?

Well, this happened to us.  But let me start at the beginning...

Way back in 2010, when we were first starting the distillery, we had a single copper potstill.  One particular day, we were distilling pear wine into brandy.  As the day went, it was rather unremarkable.  The wine was boiled, the cuts made, and the day's bounty of brandy was collected and readied for the barrel.  As usual, at the end of the day, we dumped the spent wine and washed down the still with the hose.  With the potstill still steaming, we turned off the lights, locked the doors, set the alarm, and went home.

The purple potstillThe next morning, as we arrived early to work, we entered the distillery and turned on the lights. Our beloved (and very expensive!) potstill had turned purple!  And not just a hint of lavender or pastel purple, but a bright shining amethyst purple.  I'm talking King Henry VIII royal robe purple!  It was beautiful!  But....  what on earth?!

I immediately started combing the Internet looking for answers, and finally stumbled upon a site where a Scottish chemist had the answer.  Apparently, pear wine has trace amounts of a chemical called cyanuric acid.  This acid, in contact with copper under conditions of low pH (which wine definitely is), causes copper to turn bright purple!  Lo and behold, we had our answer!  

We thought it was cool to have a purple potstill, but sadly, over the next few days, it tarnished and dulled to resemble the color of gray concrete, not exactly beautiful.  So we polished it only to see the purple return.  Eventually, its patina moved into the more typical copper brown of an old penny.  But you can still see traces of cyan and magenta in the sheen if you look at it right.  And the funny thing is, to this day, every time we polish the still (which we do rarely these days), that purple returns bright and shiny.

So we have a potstill that insists on being purple, and hence we named him... Barney.

Sláinte and Cheers!

--Scott

  

Spring DinnerSpring Dinner at the Distillery

Join us May 10th for a spring-themed cocktail pairing dinner. We will feature a four course menu plus an amuse boushe from Justin Thyme Culinary. The theme for the night will be the Pacific Rim, so expect lots of great courses and cocktails that borrow elements from the Pacific Rim. Price is $99 not including tax and gratuity.  Find out more and book your tickets, here.

 

 

Upcoming Events

We have some great events in May. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this month.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – It's the Little Things

It's the little things

Some kudos from @fractionsofzero on Instagram:

No long winded post for this one. Just an amazing fresh made botanical sour with delicious gin created by a talented Bar Manager from a wonderful Brand.

2 parts Watershed Gin
1 part butterfly pea tea syrup
1 part lemon juice
⅛th part cassis
Lemon twist
2 dashes lavender bitters, to top

Combine all ingredients in a shaker of ice, strain over new ice in a Nick and Nora glass.

Recipe courtesy Denise Petty. Photograph courtesy @fractionsofzero.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

April Greetings from Catoctin Creek - All about barrel aging

Barrels at the warehouse

Happy April! 

All about barrel aging

No foolin' here.  Let's talk about barrels!

Whenever I give tours at the distillery, I always start with a little bit of history, then walk my way through production:  mashing, fermentation, distillation, etc.  We always end up standing in front of a tall stack of used barrels, which provides a nice backdrop for the discussion about barrel aging.  You see, unlike vodka or gin or other white spirits, whiskey is not whiskey until it has kissed the barrel!  There is an old saying that if you carry new-make spirit in a bucket (a wooden bucket, back in the day), by the time you reach the other side of the distillery, it has become whiskey.

In the United States, by federal law, all American whiskey must go into new, charred oak barrels.  The law doesn't specify how long it must stay in that barrel, but economics suggest that you want to get the most out of each barrel, especially if you're only allowed to use it once.  And when that barrel is emptied, legally, you cannot use it again for whiskey.  It's a strange law, and industry folklore points to the 1800's when the lumber lobby was seeing the coopers (barrel makers) using a lot of wood.  They passed a law that said that whiskey had to be placed into a new barrel each time, and that law is still on the books today.

What that law did, was set up a supply chain for what were otherwise still useful barrels.  Enter into the picture, Scotland.  Scotland is a country with different laws.  It is also a country with lots and lots of whisky, and no trees,  The British cut down almost all the old Scottish forests hundreds of years ago.  So, today, 90+% of all scotch is aged in re-used American whiskey casks.

When people come into the distillery, and I meet them on tours, inevitably, someone will ask me about our aging in comparison to scotch.  In this regard, and I speak as a deep lover of scotch whisky, the Scotch Industry (capital S, capital I) has done us an enormous disservice.  Since the beginning of the big single malt craze in the 80's and 90's, almost every bottle has boldly on it a numberits age: 10 year old, 12 year old, 18, 21, etc.  And as the lazy, simple creatures we are, everyone assumes that 10 must be good, but 12 must be better, and 18 better still, and 21 better than that!  But it's more complicated than that...

Barrel Aging GraphSee, when you age a spirit, you are making tradeoffs.  With a relatively short-aged product, you have a higher percentage of the taste of the original grain.  As the product ages, the grain flavor is absorbed by the char, and replaced by the flavors of the wood. If you draw it on a graph, it looks something like an "X", with the rising line being wood, and the diminishing line being the grain.  Somewhere around 3-5 years, the lines cross, and you get a balance of the new make grain flavors and the wood flavors.  What is not expressed in this graph is the effect of oxidization and more complex reactions that simply require time to soften and subtly change the spirit in nuanced ways.

So, where does this bring us?  Well, I like to use the analogy of a tea-bag.  A barrel, in many ways, is like a tea-bag.  When you make a cup of tea, you are pulling flavors and tannins out of the tea.  No different for barrels.  We pull out tannins, vanillins, lignins, complex wood sugars, and many more things too complex to mention here.  All those flavors of toasted nuts, caramel, and vanilla are actually white oak.  You are drinking a glass of oak.  And unless a distiller is using caramel coloring (We absolutely never do!), the color of the whisky is entirely from the barrel.  If you were to pull samples from the barrel every few months or so, you'd see a nice progression of color from clear (like vodka), to that of Sauvignon blanc, then Chardonnay, then light honey tones, then dark and amber honey tones, to a light maple syrup tone, to darker maple, and so on...  We like to pull our samples around 2-4 years, where we get a medium maple tone on the 80 proof rye.

In America, the average age of all American whiskey consumed is about 3 years old.  This astonishes most people, because in products like Maker's Mark, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, they don't put the number on the label.   We've been trained by the Scotch Industry (again capital S, capital I), that all whiskey is about 12 years old or older.  In the US, most is not, and rarely has been.

So, back to my tea-bag analogy:  If, in America, we are required to use virgin casks, new wood each time; it's like that first-use tea-bag.  You get a deep rich flavor, and a deep rich color.  In Scotland, they use the re-used barrel, so it's like making a cup of tea from that 2nd or 3rd use tea-bag.  Yes, you can do it, but the tea takes much longer to steep, and it's not quite as dark and rich as that first cup was. Next, you factor in climate to the story, and you see that here in Virginia, as in Kentucky, we get 100°F (40°C) in the summer, and -10°F (-25°C) in the winter, and crazy spring and fall weather which is always fluctuating. This weather drives us nuts as humans, but the whisky loves it! It drives the whiskey in and out of the barrel like a sponge. And how about in Scotland? It is almost always about 75°F (30°C) and overcast. There just aren't as many weather extremes driving that whisky in an out of the wood like here in the U.S.A.

Take for example, an Islay whisky that I love:  Ardbeg 10 year old.  This is a wonderful smoky scotch whisky with no added coloring, but at 10 years old, it is yellow.  It looks like lemonade!  And yet, it's three times older than our whisky, which is dark brown.  That shows you the influence of the barrel and the weather on how it ages the spirit.  I'll also note that all those fresh grain flavors and phenolics (smoke) in the Ardbeg 10 begin to wane and are lost when you get into the Ardbeg 21 year old.  (Replaced by a stronger flavor of wood.) I personally prefer the 10 year old product over its older cousin.

So, drink your whisky, and enjoy what you like.  If you like old woody whisky, then by all means, drink away (responsibly).  But if you also like a whisky that is carefully produced and bottled as single barrel whisky so that you can taste both the wood and the freshness of the grain, then we might have a product or two for you!  But if you come into the distillery asking me why our whisky isn't older, or why it's not like scotch, I will tell you that American Whisky and Scotch Whisky are not alike.  They are apples, and oranges coconuts.

Sláinte and Cheers!

--Scott

  

Old Tom Gin Released in April

Old Tom GinOn Saturday, April 27 at noon, we will release this year's batch of Old Tom Gin. We took our regular, award-winning Watershed Gin, and set some aside for a time to rest in a re-used Pearousia pear brandy barrel and then added 10% sugar. The result is a golden, rich, and surprisingly fruity gin which gleams in those cocktails made for Old Tom gins, like the famous Ramos Gin Fizz or the Martinez. Rye Society™ members may contact us at 540-751-3294 to obtain their bottle anytime before the release date.

  

Catoctin Creek Wins Gold and Silver at San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Awards include Gold Medal for Braddock Oak Red Wine Finish Rye Whisky – available at Total Wine nationwide

Additional honor include a Silver medals for the Roundstone Rye 92 Proof "Distiller's Edition"

SFWSC 2019 Gold SFWSC 2019 Silver

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company has won two awards at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC), including a gold medal for the Braddock Oak Red Wine Finish Rye Whisky, a special release sold exclusively at Total Wine stores nationally. Catoctin Creek was also a silver medal for its Roundstone Rye 92 Proof "Distiller's Edition", which is a version of our popular Roundstone Rye single barrel whisky that has been hand selected from barrels that develop a spicier, richer profile. 

"We are honored to continue to be Virginia's most awarded distillery.  It is wonderful to be recognized by the judges at the world's most prestigious and recognized spirits competition,” says Catoctin’s co-founder and general manager Scott Harris. “Our team at Catoctin Creek continues to distill the best handcrafted Virginia whisky available today."

To read the full press release, click here.

 

Upcoming Events

Wow!  We have some great events in the coming months. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this month.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

  • April 8 - Last Dance Dinner - Enjoy the very last of Mosby's Spirit at this wonderful dinner at West End. $75/pp
  • April 11 - Yoga at the DistilleryCome share our beautiful, peaceful space for a Vinyasa Flow class. $20/pp
  • April 13 - Bottling Workshop - Come join us for a free, informative day bottling your own bottles of whisky! FREE to attend
  • April 29 - Sip + Craft - In collaboration with Finch Sewing Studio, we'll craft and cocktail. $45/pp
  • May 10 - Dinner at the Distillery - Join us for our spring dinner at the distillery. $99/pp

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – Colonial Mint Julep

Colonial Mint Julep

The mint julep is perhaps the most iconic American cocktail, among a field of cocktails which are, by definition, American. The julep is the cocktail of the south, evoking images of horse-farms, warm summer breezes, and sipping cool beverages on a wide porch. The history of the julep dates back to the 1700s, when it was prescribed as a medicinal. This variant uses rye, not bourbon, and uses a brown sugar syrup, which to us has more flavor and is truer to the sugar that would have been found in colonial America.

[Part of the Art of the Cocktail series, season two.]

6 mint leaves, plus additional for garnish
½ oz brown sugar syrup
Crushed ice
2 oz Roundstone Rye

Muddle the mint in the bottom of the glass, add the syrup and whisky, stir, and add crushed ice and more garnish mint.

Recipe from Colonial Spirits by Stephen Grasse.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

March Greetings from Catoctin Creek - Does Terroir Matter in Whisky?

Field of Rye
Photo from Getty Images and used under license.

Happy March! 

Does Terroir Matter?

There's been a lot of talk lately about what makes Virginia whisky special.  Factors such as the ingredient selection, fermentation characteristics, yeast selection, distiller's art, and barrel aging all undoubtedly have an impact on the final spirit, but this month, I want to focus on one topic in particular:  Terroir.

Let's start with the definition:

Terroir Defined

Roundstone RyeObviously, the term terroir comes to us from the wine industry. For ages, somms and vinophiles have been talking about terroir, sometimes ad nauseum. The basic concept is captured in the definition above: that a particular place, which includes its soil, climate, etc., has a definable taste on the wine produced. In other words, a Merlot made in Virginia will taste different from a Merlot made in France or Napa, even if all other factors are the same.

Until recently, this concept has never really applied to whisky. I've had discussions with Scottish distillers, who for decades simply looked at their grain as a means of creating sugar to ferment. They used what was locally available (barley) and it became the established norm for their region. Hypothetically, had they a larger surplus of sugar beets, potatoes, or corn, doubtless that the Scotch industry would have focused on those raw inputs instead (giving us rum, poteen, or bourbon instead). Little thought was paid to the role that barley gives to the flavor of the spirit, much less to where the individual barley farms were located. (Many of which, ironically, are in England!)

When we first started producing Roundstone Rye, many people would tell us, "Hey! This doesn't taste like rye whisky!" To which we would (somewhat defensively) reply, "What do you mean?! It's 100% rye. How can it not taste like RYE?"

We have since learned that what people were experiencing here was terroir.  Our grain tastes different because it comes from Virginia!  

When we distill Roundstone Rye, Becky starts with a mashbill of four different local grain sources—all of it rye.  She selects a percentage of Rappahannock rye, which gives a spicy, grassy flavor to the whisky, while our Amish country rye is sweet almost like wheat.  By mixing together these four different farms' ryes in her mashbill, she produces a flavor that is complex and multi-dimensional.  If you're accustomed to other ryes, most of which are from the American Mid-West, they have a grassy, dill, hempy quality that is absent in our rye.  Our rye is universally agreed to taste more fruity-nutty in its presentation with a crisp spicy finishwhat we attribute to the terroir of Virginia!

So, enjoy that glass of Roundstone Rye, and next time you sip, think about terroir, and see if you agree or disagree!  Comments welcome at our contact page.

 

 

Introducing the Rye Society™ – Our Retooled VIP Club

Catoctin MonogramWith the successful sales of the Rabble Rouser and 1757 XO brandy last month (both of which sold out in 40 minutes!), we've received renewed interest in our VIP Club, which we are now calling the Rye Society™. What is the Rye Society, you say? Read on...

The Rye Society is your chance to get in on the inside scoop at the distillery, and your chance to get your hands on those special releases without having to wait in line!

We don't want to make a profit on these memberships. We just want to get to know our most loyal customers one-to-one.  So we return back to you all kinds of benefits that allow you to easily recoup your membership costs. 

Here are the benefits of membership:

  • First access to new and limited release items - Items like Rabble Rouser, Roundstone Rye Cask Proof, Apple Brandy, and Barrel-Aged Gin, without standing in line!
  • VIP invitation to exclusive events at the distillery - Come experience rare behind-the-scenes tastings with Becky.  VIP members only!
  • $200 credit toward dinner for two at the distillery - Join us on one of our regular distillery dinners. You and your guest dine with us!
  • 20% off all distillery merchandise - Everything in our store, except alcohol (per ABC regulations)
  • 20% off all on-site events - concerts, parties, etc.
  • 20% off all distillery facility rental fees - Plan your next rehearsal dinner, corporate function or birthday party at our place! (A $240 value!)
  • Choice of membership hat or t-shirt
  • Free unlimited tours all year - For you and three guests.

To purchase a membership, just use the subscribe button below! Membership in the club is $300 per year.

Subscribe Now

The membership club that pays for itself!

 

Upcoming Events

Wow!  We have some great events in the coming months. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this month.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

  • March 9 - Bottling Workshop - Come join us for a free, informative day bottling your own bottles of whisky! FREE to attend
  • March 14 - Yoga at the DistilleryCome share our beautiful, peaceful space for a Vinyasa Flow class. $20/pp
  • March 23 - Ten Year Anniversary Party - Celebrate 10 years with us with music, drinks, food, and Q&A with Scott. $65/pp
  • March 28 - Sip and PaintCome and paint with us for this fun event! $45/pp
  • April 8 - Last Dance Dinner - Enjoy the very last of Mosby's Spirit at this wonderful dinner at West End. $75/pp
  • April 9 - Whisky Dinner at Monk's - Enjoy a hearty BBQ dinner with whisky pairings by Catoctin Creek.

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – Banana Hammock

Banana Hammock

Jaclyn BeasleyThis cocktail was the winning cocktail from our recent Battle of the Bartenders, #RVA Edition! This inventive cocktail comes to us from Jaclyn Beasley, who is the general manager over at Brunch in Richmond. Jaclyn is recently relocated from the DC area and has moved down to Richmond to start making noise in the cocktail scene there. She is a proud member of the team over at Brunch, but wants to make her presence known and felt throughout Richmond. Keep a close eye on her because she is going to rise up quickly in the now thriving RVA cocktail scene! A champion who truly earned her spot.

2¼ oz Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye
barspoon Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça
1 oz banana water*
¾ oz lemon juice
¼ oz vanilla syrup**
¼ oz 10 spice syrup***

Add all ingredients to shaker tin. Shake vigorously. Double strain cocktail into an old-fashioned glass, over ice. Garnish with dehydrated banana peel**** and edible flower.

*Banana Water:
2 bunches of bananas, in any stage of ripeness
Paper bag

Allow bananas to ripen until nearly black in color and very soft; they will begin to ooze. Peel skin (reserve) and mash the bananas with a potato masher. Add mash to a container and place in freezer for 24 hours. Once frozen, remove mash from freezer. Up-end container over another container and strainer to catch liquid, once it begins to thaw. Allow to strain for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

**Vanilla Syrup:
1 quart white sugar
1 quart water
1 cup light brown sugar
2 madagascar vanilla beans
1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Split vanilla beans, scrape seeds from pod. Add seeds, pod and remaining ingredients to a pot. Stir sugar until melted. Allow to lightly simmer for 15 minutes. Strain solids from liquid. You may reserve the vanilla pods again and use to make vanilla sugar, if so desired.

***10 Spice Syrup:
2 pieces of cinnamon stick, broken
2 ea star anise
8 whole cloves
¼ cup white peppercorns
¼ cup Indian Sasafrass
1 quart white sugar
1 quart water
¼ cup Togarashi spice (can be found in Japanese market)

Toast until fragrant, in order of list, all spices, except for togarashi. Add water and sugar. Simmer all spices together for 15 minutes. Add Togarashi spice, simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Strain all solids.

****Dehydrated Banana:
Using the peels from the ripened bananas, trim into rectangles (approx 2"x3"), usually 4 pieces per banana. Place peels skin side down on sheet pan lined with bakers rack, if using oven; Set oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 4 hours. If using dehydrator, follow machine instructions.

Recipe courtesy Jaclyn Beasley, and used with permission.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

February Greetings from Catoctin Creek - Celebrating 10 years!

Happy February! Catoctin Creek celebrates 10 years!

Harris Family Portrait

At Catoctin Creek, we've always been about family. Family comes first, even when Dad was a little fixated on "wiskey".

This drawing is from our dear son, Luke, now grown and in college. When in 2nd grade, he was tasked with drawing a family portrait: Mom, Eddie, Luke, Frank the pug, and even the various hamsters and pet rats are all present for the portrait, but center stage was Dad and his ridiculous whiskey obsession.

Luke's teacher at the time was somewhat reluctant to display this in her class until Becky assured her there was no family shame in our little "whiskey thing."

10 years later! What started as a family company, has only grown bigger today. And here we are in 2019...

Here's to 10, and many, many more! 

Cheers! 🥃 🥃 🥃

 

Celebrating Our Tenth Anniversary  

Happy drinkersOn March 23rd, we will host the "CatocTEN Creek's Southern Anniversary Soirée" from 7pm to 10pm at the distillery!  Join us for live music, food, drinks, and a special Q&A with owner and founder, Scott Harris.  We will dance and party all night and enjoy wonderful drinks made with our usual care for local ingredients and craftsmanship!  Don't miss it!  Click here.

 

 

Rabble Rouser - February 16th!

Rabble Rouser

We have begun seeing some of the sneak-preview reviews of our forthcoming Rabble Rouser Bottled In Bond Rye Whisky Release. Graham Averill, writing for Paste, gives us stunning marks on the new dram:

"Rabble Rouser doesn’t need any fancy stamp to be great, though. It just is. The 100% rye is aged for four years and bottled at 100 proof. It pours a deep mahogany and has an incredibly enticing nose full of cherries and toasted marshmallows. There’s nothing but rye in the bottle, so you’ve got plenty of spice to contend with, with notes of pepper and ash, but also a hell of a lot of caramel, like from the center of your favorite candy bar. There’s some stone fruit in there, maybe some figs and something nutty, like cashews. A layer of heat underscores all of it so you realize you’re drinking a relatively high-proof rye."

You can read the full review, here.  Look for the release in the tasting room on February 16 at noon!  Get there early, folks!  This one will sell out!

 

Also on February 16th - 1757 XO Brandy

1757 XO Brandy Bottled in BondOn the same day we release our Rabble Rouser, we will have a small number of bottles of our 1757 Bottled In Bond XO Brandy.  This is very special stuff, the oldest thing we've ever released to day.  The brandy is made from a 50-50 blend of Seyval blanc and Chambourcin grapes from Tarara Vineyards, distilled by us, and then aged in Bordeaux barrels for 8 years.  It is delicate and has the flavor of raisins, currants, bread pudding, and rich warm vanilla toffee.  We're really proud of this one, and it will not last either!  This will be a one time only release.  Remember:  February 16 at noon!

 

 

Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Scott Harris

A couple bourbon drinking groups on Reddit recently asked us to do an "Ask Me Anything" about what it takes to become a global brand. There were some really great questions, and they provide insight into the difficult job of creating and running a distillery.  Here is an excerpt of the questions, for your enjoyment:

Can you explain why you only make rye?

Great question. When we started this company, 10 years ago, we were digging into the history of whiskey in Virginia. As many know today, Virginia is the birthplace of American whiskey. Prior to the Revolutionary War, all landowning Americans (i.e. all free people) were Britons, and as a result of trade between the UK, the Caribbean, and the Colonies (that’s us), RUM was the #1 spirit of choice, and produced on an industrial scale.

However, after the Revolutionary War, the Brits got pissed off with us for having a war with them, and cut off the supply of sugar and rum. Americans had to turn inward for their spirit needs, and at that time, we had lots and lots of arable land, and lots of Scots-Irish immigrants. Serious efforts to produce rye whiskey took off. Rye was a grain that grew really well in the northern colonies (VA, MD, PA, NY and on up into Quebec), and could produce a couple crops per year. It didn’t take long for rye whiskey to take off as America’s first whiskey. Most people don’t know that George Washington, at Mount Vernon, was the largest commercial distiller in his lifetime, producing mostly rye whiskey.

Becky and I tested other grains, but fell in love with rye for this history, it’s taste, and the unique place it had in the marketplace when we started 10 years ago. (There was little rye on the market at that time.) So today, we want to do one thing (rye whiskey) and do it really, really well.

That’s why we make rye whiskey. (We spell it whisky, by the way, because of our own family’s Scottish history.)

What's the single biggest challenge you've had as you've grown?

Cash flow! Whisky is a cash intensive business. As you pay money for grain, barrels, etc., you lay down that whisky in the barn (our name for our aging warehouse), and it is literally money tied up for years. Managing that has been the biggest challenge of our lives. There were dark days where we had to dig into our own pockets (mine and Becky’s personal funds) to come up with money for payroll so our employees could get paid. That really drives home the commitment. You ask yourself, as owners, “Do we really REALLY want to do this?” For us, the answer has been, Yes, and we love what we do.

How has being in Purcellville and VA affected CC?

Purcellville is our home. We live in the town where we work. We are centrally located in the agricultural region of Loudoun County to include grain farms, cattle farms, and wineries. This has been beneficial for delivering spent mash to cattle farmers, getting grain from our farms for making rye, and working with wineries (and now breweries!) on special projects. We love this place, and everything we do is an homage to the geography, the history and the culture of the region. We want people to think as affectionately of “Virginia Whiskey” as they might “Kentucky Bourbon”.

Do the altitude and/or climate present aging/distilling issues?

Yes, absolutely. I’m not sure altitude matters much (we are at sea level essentially), but climate definitely does. First of all, we have super hot summers (near 100 deg F July through August), and super cold winters (10-22 deg F for some periods in January and February), and springs and falls that swing wildly back and forth. It is not uncommon to have one day when it is 77 deg F, and the next day might be 33 deg F. These swings in temperature change the barometric pressure and act to push and pull the whiskey in an out of the barrel like a sponge. That gives us great interaction with the wood during the aging cycle. A couple other points I’ll note: 1) This weather is very similar to Kentucky. 2) We have very high humidity, so on average, our proof DROPS in the barrel. The way I like to think of this is that in a humid environment, the air is “full of water”, so water can’t evaporate easily, but the alcohol does. In a dry climate (when we age indoors in the AC), the proof usually RISES.

The distillation is marginally affected by ambient temperature too. In the winter, the water in the Purcellville water tower is very cold. This means super fast and efficient cooling of the condenser on the still and the heat exchanger on the mash tank (we use tap water for these). In the summer, when the water is around 80 deg F, it takes longer.

How does being a smaller distillery affect the way you do experimentation?

I like to think we are freer to experiment. We don’t have large systems set up to make one product and one product only. So we can try an experimental grain run, play with our still settings (that’s how Rabble Rouser came to be), or collaborate with local breweries to product malt-based whiskeys, like the Dia de los Muertos we did with Adroit Theory a few years back.

If you want to try new grains, finishes, chars, etc., do you have to wait years to see the results? If you use a small batch as an experiment, doesn't it double the time before you get a small product to market?

Yes and no. When we try a new grain, we can tell from the new-make spirit pretty much how it’s going to end up. If the spirit is good, the end result will be good. With barrel finishes, it is more esoteric. There are periods where flavors can “go to sleep” in the barrel, only to blossom years later. We are constantly tasting barrels to find out when they are at their prime before bottling, and then everything we bottle is done as a SINGLE BARREL expression.

Have you found creative solutions or workarounds?

Like I said, for any experimental grain or fruit offering, we can tell if it will be good as new make, and that’s usually good enough to invest in the project. We usually test new farms’ grains in a single grain batch so we can get a measure of the new grain, and then that whiskey expression will be set aside for our Barrel Select program, since it will be a little different. Our Roundstone Rye is a mashbill of four different rye strains from four different farms, giving it a complexity of taste while still being 100% rye.

What trend do you see in whiskey that you hope ends soon and why?

People selling other people’s juice and not acknowledging it. It’s OK to sell that juice, but they should be honest about it and disclaim it.

Also, I’m chuffed that people can enjoy our liquor, but ask, “When will it be older?” Older is not always better. We purposefully produce a 2-4 year whiskey that is grain forward on purpose. If we were to age it older, it would lose the freshness of the grain and just be an oak-bomb. The whiskey we make was decided THE DAY IT WAS DISTILLED how old it would be. We distill it purposefully for that age, and if it is to be older, we distill it differently (like we do with Rabble Rouser). So, I’d like people to enjoy whiskey for its taste, and not be so hung up on meaningless variables like age.

Oh, yeah, and for people to stop being so crazy about Pappy. It’s great whiskey, but the mania in the market is nuts. There are other great wheated bourbons out there (Larceny, Weller, etc.), and I bet in a blind taste test, most people (myself included) couldn’t tell them apart. So why pay $1000 for a bottle?!

Why do you bottle your flagship product at 40% abv?

Honestly, we really like the flavor at 80 proof! Because it is 100% rye, and pot stilled for 9 hrs, we get a lot of richness in that 80 proof dram. It is buttery, fruity, nutty, with a hint of banana, and so, so smooth. We realize that the whiskey nerds out there (many of you may include yourselves in this category), scoff at 80 proof as “Kool-Aid” of whiskey. Fair enough. Which is why we introduced our 92 proof Distiller’s Edition, which came to address the whiskey-aficionado market. We hand select that whiskey from barrels that show a more spicy rye profile (think cloves, cinnamon, black pepper) at a higher proof.

There’s also the CASK PROOF, which is incredible and smooth and rich and just so damn good.

Despite that, our biggest seller BY FAR is the 80 proof, so that’s what the market demands, and that’s why we make it.

If you could start over tomorrow with a clean slate, what would you do differently?

Branding! We had no idea. People buy first with their eyes. We thought that if we just produced the best liquid out there, the label could almost be generic. We were so, so wrong. Branding is super important, and I would have addressed that right from the start.

Everything else, we feel we’ve done pretty well, so I’m really happy with where we are today.

If you are interested in the original full Reddits, with all the great questions that were asked, they are here and here

 

Upcoming Events

Wow!  We have some great events in the coming months. Here is the full list of events planned at the distillery and in the area this month.  Many events are free, so be sure to join us for something fun:

  • February 1 Art of the Cocktail - USA - whiskey, Martinez, Sazerac, Old Fashioned, and punch. $35/pp
  • February 8 Art of the Cocktail - Latin America - molasses, limes, agave, cacao, chiles, hibiscus, and coffee. $35/pp
  • February 15 - Valentine's Day Dinner - Join us for a delicious dinner in the distillery celebrating Valentine's Day.  $125/pp
  • February 16 - Rabble and 1757 Release Day - This is the big day! Come get them before they sell out!!  FREE TO ATTEND
  • February 25 - Battle of the RVA Bartenders - Join Richmond's coolest bartenders for a great cocktail competition. $20/pp
  • March 14 - Yoga at the DistilleryCome share our beautiful, peaceful space for a Vinyasa Flow class. $20/pp
  • March 23 - Ten Year Anniversary Party - Celebrate 10 years with us with music, drinks, food, and Q&A with Scott. $65/pp
  • March 28 - Sip and PaintCome and paint with us for this fun event! $45/pp

For the full list of events, check our events page.

 

Cocktail of the Month – Carpenter's Hand

Carpenter's Hand

Sultry and supple, this mix of brandy, sherry and honey-sweetened liqueur is delicious any time of year.

[Part of the Art of the Cocktail series, season two.]

2 oz. 1757 Virginia Brandy
1⁄2 oz. Amontillado sherry
1⁄2 oz. Drambuie or saffron honey syrup
Rocks glass, big rock
Orange peel

Shake ingredients together with ice in a shaker, and then strain over a big rock in a rocks glass.  Garnish with orange peel.

Recipe courtesy Chris Lane, Lolinda, San Francisco.

See this cocktail and hundreds more on our cocktails page.

 

In Closing...

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery. We are open every Tuesday through Sunday for tastings and bottle purchases, so stop by and see us sometime!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

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Rabble Rouser featured in Maxim

Maxim did a story on some of the best Bottled In Bond whiskies available, and our Rabble Rouser was selected (among some very fine company, if we do say so)! Previous whiskey...

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Becky Harris in American Whiskey Magazin…

American Whiskey magazine does an interview with Becky Harris, our president and chief distiller, about starting up a distillery and what's on the horizon. Focusing more now on the spirit itself...

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Contact Us

Catoctin Creek Distillery

Catoctin Creek Distillery
120 W Main St
Purcellville, VA 20132

Tel (540) 751-8404


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Latest Events

Rabble Rouser ABC Lottery

  FEB 29   Rabble Rouser in ABC Lottery 9:00am Leap Day is Lottery Day!  On February 29, at 9am, the Virginia ABC lottery opens for Rabble Rouser!  Miss your chance to get a bottle at...

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Catoctin Creek Bottling Workshop

  MAR 14   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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Old Tom Gin Release Day

  MAR 21   Release Day!  Watershed Gin - "Barrel Rested" - Old Tom Style 12:00pm—4:00pm On Saturday, at noon, we will release our next offering of the Watershed Gin barrel rested in pear brandy barrels...

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