News

September 2010 Update

September is here, and a young man's fancy turns to brandy!

Grape harvestAs August drew to a close, we wrapped up our rye production season.  In September, we focus our attention on all the grapes that have begun to arrive, and we begin distilling brandy.

This year's grape harvest could be one of the best ever in Virginia.  Drought conditions have concentrated the flavors and sugars in the berries, so we have very high expectations for an excellent vintage!

Our first grape brandies will be made from a blend of Seyval Blanc and Chambourcin, but it will be at least two years before we see any ready for bottling.  So, until then... we wait!

Whisky Cruise on the HudsonAugust was so busy.  In August, we saw our distribution expand into Northern California (along with present day Maryland, DC and Virginia).  Apparently, a lot of people are interested in fine eco-ganic spirits!  Our PR engine was in full swing, as we poured spirits for the Mike O'Meara show and cruised down the Hudson on the Whisky Cruise.

There are still so many more events planned, including the Washington Redskins "Return to Glory" party on Sept. 8th with many Redskins alum and GM Bruce Allen.  (Admission is free!)  Be sure to check out the full list at http://www.catoctincreekdistilling.com/enjoy/events.

Pepito cocktail at PatowmackWe are constantly asked, "Where can we buy your spirits?"  Well, the list of stores, restaurants and pubs is growing day by day.  The best way to stay up to date is to check our web site at http://www.catoctincreekdistilling.com/enjoy/wheretobuy.  If you see a restaurant or store with Catoctin Creek, and we don't have it on our list, let us know!  Check back often, as the list continues to grow!  And don't be afraid to ask your server, "Can I get Catoctin Creek?"

As always, there are lots of fun and information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery.  Tours are always free, so stop by and see us sometime!

Remember, "Think Global, Drink LOCAL!"SM

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

August 2010 Update

The dog days of summer are among us, and it makes it a hard time to be a distiller.

Barrel RinsingWith temperatures peaking above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, we're really struggling to keep cool as we continue to work at making whisky and gin.  Mind you, this job generates lots of heat, and we have no air conditioning in the distillery (except for the fermentation room), so ours is truly a labor of love.  And our desire to get you guys more spirits as soon as we can!

The Passenger RestaurantWe are now shipping our spirits into Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and we're just starting to see some awesome restaurants carrying our products.  Around home, we have the wonderful Magnolias at the Mill in Purcellville, the Greene Turtle and Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg, just to name a few.  And let's not forget Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville, where we are doing cocktails paired with dinner on August 6.  Further afield, the first restaurant in the District to carry our spirits is the well renowned Passenger on 7th Street NW. Look for more and more as we ramp up on our distribution, and don't be shy to ask your retailer or server, "Can you get me some Catoctin Creek?"

Another wonderful milestone occurred just before July came to a close.  We received our first order from northern California!  Now, if you're out in the Lake Tahoe or Sacramento area on vacation, you should be able to find our spirits there as well.  This is a great new market for us, and we're excited that folks are interested in eco-ganic spirits across the nation.  We'll need to ramp up our production to meet the growing demands, but this is a good problem to have.

There are lots and lots of cool activities coming up this fall.  Whether you want to learn to be a distiller, or just want to hang out with us for a little while, there's a little something for everyone.  Briefly, they are:

  • Interview on the Mike O'Meara radio show, August 6 at 10:30am (http://www.mikeomearashow.com/)
  • Dinner at Patowmack Farm Restaurant, Aug. 6, 7pm  (Not too late for reservations, call the restaurant!)
  • Next bottling workshop, tentatively planned for August 21, 10am (RSVP now to reserve a free space)
  • Whisky Cruise on the Hudson, New York City, August 26
  • Loudoun Fall Color Farm Tour, October 16-17 (a free event)
  • Autumn distilling workshop, October 23.  Register online
  • Whisky Fest in New York City - November 9

You can find out much more about any of these on our website at http://catoctincreekdistilling.com/enjoy/events.  Of course, tours are always free.  Just call ahead to make sure we're there.

As always, there is lots of fun and information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery.  We haven't had too much traffic in FourSquare yet, so any of you who wish to be the mayor of our distillery, better get crackin!

Remember, "Think Global, Drink LOCAL!"SM

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

July 2010 Update

June has passed, and so we reach the halfway point of 2010.

June saw a few milestones in our distribution, as we picked up distribution in Maryland and the District of Columbia with Bacchus Importers, Ltd. Bacchus is the premium distributor of high end and craft spirits in the Maryland and DC area, so we were naturally pleased to partner with them for selling our spirits north of the Potomac. Look for the spirits to start to arrive in stores this summer. And if you go into your local stores or restaurants, be sure to ask for Catoctin Creek!

In June, we were also pleased to obtain our final approval for our USDA certified eco-ganic labels. The new labels should roll out on products starting in July. Same great products as before, it's just that now they bear that coveted "eco-ganic" mark, proving our commitment to high quality spirits and sustainable practices.

Watershed Gin Mosby's Spirit Roundstone Rye

We have several great events coming up in July and early August. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • July24 - Catoctin Creek Distilling Workshop
  • July 31 - Bottling Day - Volunteers Wanted
  • August 6 - Catoctin Creek Dinner at Patowmack Farm Restaurant

For more information on these, or any other events, check our web site: http://catoctincreekdistilling.com/enjoy/events

If you are a Virginia customer, it still helps to give the ABC manager the ordering codes when asking for our products. Some of the stores are becoming more familiar with the product, but some are still learning. If you are in a store and cannot find our product, ask the clerk to look up or order the following:

  • 27030 - Roundstone Rye
  • 952482 - Mosby's Spirit (special order by the case - 6 bottles)
  • 952483 - Watershed Gin (special order by the case - 6 bottles)

Some stores will even sell you the special order products by the bottle. (Ask real nicely, and they might for you too!)

Finally, we were thrilled beyond words to be highlighted in a story on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. The news story is a great little history about starting the distillery, and we never get tired of watching ourselves! Check it out on our web site: http://catoctincreekdistilling.com/news/media/146-nbcnews

As always, there is lots of fun and information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery.

Remember, "Think Global, Drink LOCAL!"SM

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

June 2010 Update

In May, we started selling... And what a wild ride it's been!

As Richmond began distributing our spirits to the various stores in Northern Virginia, we were overwhelmed to see the Roundstone Rye flying off the shelves. Reports from Loudoun County ABC stores were that the product was selling out within hours of arrival. This is always encouraging for a new business, and we thank all of you who have bought a bottle. We truly hope you enjoy your rye whisky.

Sales have settled into a more normal clip now, with the product generally available in all stores throughout the Commonwealth. If you are in a store and cannot find our product, ask the clerk to look up or order the following:

  • 27030 - Roundstone Rye
  • 952482 - Mosby's Spirit (special order by the case - 6 bottles)
  • 952483 - Watershed Gin (special order by the case - 6 bottles)

With sales in Virginia underway, we're starting to see our spirits showing up in local bars and restaurants--The Ashby Inn in Paris, VA, and the Old Brogue in Great Falls, VA--to name a few. If you have a favorite restaurant or bar, ask them if they carry your local spirit--Catoctin Creek--and if they do, let us know about it! If they don't, tell them they should!

On our web site, we've expanded our section on cocktails and recipes. Many of our Facebook friends have sent in great cocktails, like the Sazerac and the Maryland Mint Julep, which we are happy to share on our site. Have a favorite cocktail that we don't know about? Send it to us and we'll post it!

May was also the month when we received our official eco-ganic certification. eco-ganic is really important to us. Besides affirming a standard of care for sustainable practices, eco-ganic equals truly better spirits. Why? Well, when you have grain that has been treated with synthetic pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers, those chemicals attach to the grain. And if distillation is anything, it's the art of concentration. When you distill the grain, those chemicals come through in the spirit, giving "off" flavors and foul chemical taints that must be absorbed by the charred carbon in the barrel. But when you use 100% eco-ganic rye, as we do, the spirit is clean and crisp, and absolutely wonderful on day one. I guess that's why Jason Wilson, of the Washington Post, called it "a beautiful unaged whisky." Thanks, Jason. We definitely agree.

Keep an eye out, for in the coming weeks, we'll be announcing another bottling party. These are great fun, where we set up an assembly line of volunteers to bottle and pack cases of Roundstone Rye for shipment. The last time, we had 20-30 volunteers, and we cranked through 60 cases of rye in less than two hours! Everybody had a great time, got a free lunch, and was able to sign their name on a bottle or two.

As always, there is lots of fun and information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery.

Remember, "Think Global, Drink LOCAL!"SM

Cheers!

Scott & Becky

May 2010 Update

Another busy month for us at Catoctin Creek Distilling Company...

Bottling DayIn April, we were in bottling mode. Bottling was fun. We had a great team of volunteers who came in, and we rocked in one day what had been planned for two! It was a truly historic event, as we signed and shipped the very first bottles ever from our distillery. Plus, it was nice to meet up with some of our Facebook fans. We bottled over 90 cases of our first spirits for delivery to Virginia ABC in Richmond. As Scott was driving down I-95 with a pallet of spirits in his truck, it dawned on him he was fulfilling his lifelong dream to run liquor down I-95! Mind you, he was doing so driving 35 miles per hour with his hazard lights flashing! Must protect those spirits!

With the spirits delivered to Richmond, we now wait for the Virginia distribution machine to kick in so that the spirits are delivered to all of the stores we designated. Literally any day now, you should see Roundstone Rye on the shelves of your local ABC store. If you don't see it, ask for it! (Product # 27030). If you are a restaurant wishing to order all three spirits (including the Watershed Gin and Mosby's Spirit as well), you can use the ABC special order to ask for a mixed case (two of each spirit). You can find more information on buying our spirits here.

For those of you in Maryland and DC, we will be available there soon--we'll keep you posted on the web site.

In April, we also had our eco-ganic inspection. This went extremely well, and we are very proud to be nearly completed with what has been a very non-trivial process. Why eco-ganic? Being eco-ganic guarantees our spirits, and the ingredients that go into them, are free from synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. The water we use is filtered for purity. We are independently inspected each year to ensure our compliance with these and other regulations governing the production of eco-ganic food. In short, the eco-ganic label guarantees you a high level of transparency and accountability in how we produce our spirits. It underscores our commitment to providing you the highest quality spirits and to protecting and restoring our environment.

In May, be sure to check out the Loudoun Farm Tour and Purcellville Heritage Day, on May 15-16. We'll be in full production mode that weekend, and we'll show you the complete process of making whisky from mashing through distillation. You can stick your nose in a barrel and take a whiff, and you can meet some mighty fine people that help us keep the distillery running. Mark your calendars for this fun and informative weekend!

As always, there is lots of fun and information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery.

Remember, "Think Global, Drink LOCAL!"SM

Cheers!

Scott & Becky

April 2010 Update

March came in like a lion, and went out like a... well, not like a lamb! At least, not for us.

In early March, we received our first order for Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye. Virginia ABC ordered over one hundred cases of our rye whisky. Look for it in stores starting May 1. You can find a list of stores carrying our rye whisky here.

Watershed Gin and Mosby's Spirit, along with the Roundstone Rye, will be available in Maryland and DC sometime soon--we'll keep you posted on the web site.

In March, we started making our Watershed Gin. The process is simple: We start with twice distilled rye spirits as a base, and then we macerate a pillow-case sized bag of juniper and other herbs and spices, letting it steep in the spirit for 24 hours or more. Then, the gin is run back through the still one more time, to become a very smooth and totally delicious thrice-distilled Watershed Gin.

Becky and I enjoyed hosting our first Artisan Distilling Workshop. We had about twenty folks show up and spend their Saturday with us, learning about mashing, fermentation, distilling, and bottling. We ran a batch of rye whisky through the still, and even got to check out the pear wine and gin base in their pre-distilled forms. Becky and I had a lot of fun, and hope that everybody enjoyed the seminar as much as we enjoyed hosting it. For those of you interested, you can check out our summer workshop on July 24--you can sign up for it online.

Looking forward to April, we're proud to sponsor the Green Music Stage at the Valley Earthfest! This is a cool event "getting back to basics" and celebrating local and sustainable culture. If you are free on April 18th, you should come out and see us and say "Hi". We'll have a tent set up at the festival.

As always, there is lots of fun and information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery.

Remember, "Think Global, Drink LOCAL!"SM

Cheers!

Scott & Becky

March 2010 Update

It seems like every time I sit down to write one of these newsletters, it always wants to start out as "It has been a busy month for us..." At the risk of sounding repetitive, indeed February has been a busy month!

Early this month, we introduced the first drops of rye spirit into the barrel, officially and almost magically changing it into rye whisky! Sure, it won't be ready to drink for a while--it must age for a time in that new charred oak barrel--but the instant raw spirit kisses wood, it is forevermore designated "whisky". We now have a couple barrels put away of what will become Roundstone Rye.  It's nice to have this first couple batches done and set aside. A bit of a milestone, really.

We were also very pleased to obtain our Kosher certification from Star-K this month. Our first three products, Mosby's Spirit, Roundstone Rye, and Watershed Gin are all certified Kosher. We're still awaiting our other certification, but stay tuned for that hopefully in March.

February was a brutal month for snow in Virginia. We were walloped by two major snowstorms, dumping more snow on our region than we've had in over 100 years. Of course, whisky waits for no man (or woman), so we braved the weather to ensure that production continued, even as the winds and snow howled outside our door.

The foul weather did afford us a nice opportunity to get some artsy bottle shots in the creek. My son and I trudged through 24 inch snow drifts, and then stood in freezing cold water to get some photos of our new bottles. I think the results were worth the trouble.

If you're interested, get your Catoctin Creek branded merchandise by giving us a call. We're still getting our web store set up, but we now have branded collector shot glasses and Catoctin Creek t-shirts available. All major credit cards accepted!

And don't forget, there is lots of fun and information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery.

Remember, "Think Global, Drink LOCAL!"SM

Cheers!

Scott & Becky

February 2010 Update

Production Begins!

January has been a whirlwind month for us at Catoctin Creek. During the last month, we finalized our equipment installation, received both our federal and state distillery permits, and began our production.  THAT was a busy month!

After receiving the equipment in late December last year, we finalized its installation. The electrical build out proved to be the largest part of our equipment installation, since both our still and our mash tank are electrically heated. Our local electricians, Purcellville Electric, did exceptional work, working alongside our Kothe representatives. We had our equipment up and running in a week! We cannot recommend either company more highly.

In late January, we also ventured down to Richmond to meet with the Virginia ABC review board. This is a necessary step in getting our products on the Virginia ABC retail shelves in 2010. We hope to hear from them in February, and rest assured, we will let you know when we do. Our starting lineup of products will include our Mosby's Spirit, a clear rye grain spirit (some call it a white whiskey) that is light and flavorful with the taste of rye grain, our Roundstone Rye, which is an aged rye whisky, and our Watershed Gin, which is wonderfully fresh and aromatic with 100% eco-ganic herbs and spices. In fact, all three spirits will be eco-ganic! Look for them in May 2010.

Once the equipment was hooked up, we began production immediately. We've already produced several gallons of our raw rye spirit, and more is being produced daily. We've posted a cool video on YouTube which shows our first production run. You can watch as we produce our first batch of rye mash, and then watch as we distill out our first spirits on the still. Very exciting and illustrative. Of course, always feel free to come by and see us in person too!

And don't forget, there is lots of fun and information on our Facebook and Twitter pages, where you can stay up to date with the daily activities at the distillery.

As I have now found myself saying each morning... "Time to make the whisky."

Cheers!

Scott & Becky

January 2010 Update

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We hope everybody had a great Christmas and Hanukkah holiday season. During the break, we were waiting... waiting... waiting... for our equipment to arrive from Germany.

Liverpool Express in Norfolk on Dec. 26Right after Christmas, our container ship, the Liverpool Express, landed in Norfolk with our container of equipment from Germany. After a few days and a lot of phone calls, we got the container cleared through customs, and it arrived on our doorstep in early January! We're just finishing up hooking it all up and getting it ready for production runs.

Checking the equipmentAlmost at the same time, we received our Federal DSP (Distilled Spirits Plant) permit! This is huge because it means we are now legal! Yes, we are now federally approved distillers! We immediately turned around and filed our applications for label approval for our first line-up of products. Stay tuned for more information about that!

So, as we slide into the deep, dark cold days of winter, we're anticipating our meeting with Virginia ABC and getting onto the shelves (hopefully) in May. We'll also be getting those distributor relationships set up for Maryland and the District of Columbia. Lots and lots to do! And that doesn't even count for all the spirits we have to make between now and then! We have to put that equipment to work!

So, Happy New Year! Let's hope it's the best one ever for you and your family, and until spring, stay warm!

L'Chaim and Cheers!

Scott & Becky

November 2009 Update

Now that we're sliding into late autumn, heading toward winter, we are almost ready for production to start at the distillery.

Kothe K-900 Still under construction in Eislingen, GermanyDurfo Enolmaster Bottling MachineMore and more equipment arrives each week. Our Durfo Enolmaster bottling machine arrived in the United States, but we are still working to free her out of customs in Atlanta. And our Kothe K-900 still is expected to arrive from Eislingen, Germany, in December along with all of our fermentation, storage and filtering equipment.

In November, we achieved the 500 members milestone in our Facebook fan page. As a result, we awarded a first run bottle to David Gadsby, our 500th member. The Catoctin Creek Facebook Page continues to be a fun place to find out the latest on the business, to interact, and to share information about the love of spirits in Loudoun County and the Washington Metro area.

During November, we've also received word from the Federal Tax and Trade Bureau that our distillery license should be approved in the next few weeks! This is great news, as we are on the verge of becoming the first federally licensed distillery in northern Virginia since before Prohibition! It also means that we did a pretty good job in submitting our gargantuan federal DSP application packet.

Looking to December and January, we expect to install the final shipment of equipment arriving from Germany, and we're hoping to begin our first production run before the year is over.

Until then...

L'Chaim and Cheers!

Scott & Becky

October 2009 Update

The month of October has come and gone, and lot has happened in the meantime!

In October, we finalized our lease and took possession of 37251-C E. Richardson Lane, Unit 200. This is a modest space in an out of the way industrial park. We would have preferred an idyllic country setting, but we'll just have to wait for that. Our current space suits us very nicely in the meantime. It is conveniently located in Purcellville, Virginia, in the heart of DC's Wine Country. The Town of Purcellville staff have been very helpful in getting us zoned, permitted and off the ground. And the ample 2065 square feet of open space will be perfect for installing our equipment.

ZeichnungIn fact, equipment continues to come in. We nabbed some nice office furniture at the Loudoun ReStore, a thrift shop which benefits Habitat for Humanity. All of our office and cleaning supplies are now in place (the common stuff that every distilled spirits plant needs, like mops, hoses, brooms, squeegees, and wireless routers). We're still waiting for the still, of course, but Kothe shared with us a technical drawing of our still, and I hope to soon post some photos of the actual still being made.

October was a big publicity month for us. Honestly, it took us rather by surprise! First, our story of getting SBA financing got picked up by the online edition of the Wall Street Journal. That was really HUGE for us. Heck, they even included a photo! Then, quickly after that, all of those business plan contests concluded. In both the Sage MyBizCounts contest, and in the Loudoun SBDC contest, we received third place for our business plan. We were very pleased with this, and hope it foreshadows our being the third best spirit producer in the U.S.A. next year. (We'll settle for third anytime!)

As we look to November and December, we anticipate receiving our still and other equipment from Kothe in Germany, our bottling machine from Durfo in Italy, and the remainder of odds-and-ends before we start actual production. We also look forward to getting both our Virginia ABC license and our Federal license in that time frame. God willing, we'll be making spirits by January!

Until then, feel free to come by and see us, or visit us online at the Catoctin Creek Facebook Page. (If you haven't joined, become a fan today!)

Cheers!

Scott & Becky

September 2009 Update

We continue to be very busy as we move into the set up phase of our business. In September, we finally got approval for our SBA loan and closed on a lease. We now have a home! Our new location will be 37251 Richardson Lane, Unit 200, in Purcellville, Virginia. This positions us conveniently in the heart of Loudoun County, central to all the wineries and vineyards in DC's Wine Country. Our new facility is perfectly sized for our business, with lots of room to put equipment and barrels.

And speaking of barrels, our three barrels arrived from Bourdeaux this month. We immediately set to cleaning them, delighted with the rich smell of red wine inside the barrel. We will use these for finishing off brandy once we start production. The character of the wine should add delicate elements of flavor into the brandy we produce.

Of course, with all those barrels, we're going to need something to lug them around. So we also purchased a used (new to us) forklift. This 2002 Nissan forklift, for which we're currently accepting name suggestions, is showing her age a little, but her scars are mostly from her days working in the DAP caulk factory. She's a hard working lass (or is she a lad?), and will do perfectly for moving around pallets of grape, grain and spirits. We'll also need her when it comes to getting that Kothe still off the truck.

For those of you tracking the business plan contests, both the Loudoun SBDC and the Sage MyBizCounts contests are now closed. I guess the judges are busy making their decisions. We hope to hear something in October. We're as anxious as you are to learn the results.

Don't forget, you can sign up for our Catoctin Creek Facebook Page. (If you haven't joined, become a fan today!)

Finally, it looks as though we'll have the still in November, provided the cargo ship doesn't get hijacked by pirates outside of Hamburg. Stay tuned...

Cheers!

Scott & Becky

June 2009 Update

Wow! Over 100 members in our Facebook page in our first month! I'm very excited. If you haven't joined the Facebook page, please join us at http://facebook.com/catoctincreek.

Just to let you all know, we've been working with the local wineries and local farms to get nailed down on sources for grapes, wine and grain. Things are moving along very well! We are hoping to order our beautiful Kothe 400 liter still this month and start installing it in the autumn. Then, we can begin producing our first drops of liquor before the end of the year! Targeting to hit the shelves in 2010.

Our sincere thanks to all of you who joined the Facebook group and have been voting for us on the MyBizCounts contest. Please continue to vote! The contestants are now locked in, and voting continues through July. If we win, we get $20,000 big ones to help purchase our still! So, please keep voting for us every day! http://contest.mybizcounts.com/vote.

THANKS! and spread the word!

Cheers!
Scott & Becky

Latest News

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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Becky in Rachel Ray's magazine

Kelsie Schrader, writing for Rachel Ray Every Day magazine, covers 10 female pioneers in the spirits industry and gets Becky in her article: When Becky and Scott Harris founded Catoctin Creek...

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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

Catoctin Creek Bottling Workshop

  JUN 22   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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Nose-to-tail cooking

  JUN 23   Nose-to-tail butchery & cooking 6:00pm—9:00pm Long Stone Farm and Chef Tim Rowley of the Wine Kitchen will join forces to provide a private culinary tour of the pig from nose to tail. ...

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Día de los Muertos

  JUL 6   Special Release – Día de los Muertos American Malt Whisky  12:00pm—1:00pm This whisky was made in collaboration with Adroit Theory Brewing Company, the mad geniuses of the local beer world! Aged at...

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