Making bespoke Virginia bitters - Telling a Story with Flavor

Bespoke Bitters

Eric Kozlik is the founder of Modern Bar Cart, a company which seems to attack the fine art of drinking from all directions:  podcasting, blogging, recipes, and they even make bitters.  Erik's latest episode focuses on the process that led up to our first set of bespoke bitters:

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.

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.

Governor of Virginia touts international expansions

The Governor of Virginia put out a press release announcing our successful new relationship in Germany this year:

"Virginia distilleries provide a growing market for our Commonwealth’s agricultural products, and we are proud to support companies like Catoctin Creek and Reservoir as they pursue export opportunities and forge important relationships around the world,” said Governor Northam. “Foreign trade and investment are key to strengthening and diversifying our economy, and these two international partnerships are a perfect example Virginia’s commitment to helping businesses of all sizes explore new sales channels and compete both at home and abroad.”

You can read the entire press release, here.

Press Release: Catoctin Creek partners with Adroit Theory Brewing Company to launch wicked whisky Día de los Muertos

Día de los MuertosOnly 147 bottles will be available at the Virginia distillery July 6

PURCELLVILLE, Va. (June 14, 2019) - - - It may only be summer, but the Day of the Dead is approaching! Catoctin Creek Distillery has collaborated with neighboring brewery, Adroit Theory to produce its second batch of Día de los Muertos, a sinfully delicious malt whisky. Catoctin Creek’s oldest whisky release to date, Día de los Muertos is extremely limited, with only 147 bottles available at the distillery’s tasting room on Saturday, July 6 from noon to 1 p.m. Catoctin Creek chief distiller, Becky Harris and Adroit Theory owner, Mark Osborne will be on-site to sign bottles and chat with guests.

“We’re very excited about the launch of Día de los Muertos whisky with the help of our friends at Adroit Theory, aka the evil mad genuises of the local beer world,” said Catoctin Creek co-founder and general manager, Scott Harris. “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 the resulting alcohol is super-concentrated and especially delicious. The bad news is we have less to sell. But trust me when I say you’ll want to get your hands on it.”

Adroit Theory’s Día de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout was aged and distilled by Catoctin Creek for “4.6” years in Minnesota white oak barrels. At 92 proof/46% ABV, the resulting Día de los Muertos whisky is full-bodied, rich, and overflowing with bold notes of caramel, chocolate, malt and honey-rubbed leather. Each bottle comes with a custom-made cedar gift box and will be available at the Catoctin Creek tasting room only for $159.99/750mL beginning July 6. Limited to one bottle per customer.

In addition to the launch of the wicked whisky, Adroit Theory is releasing a limited- edition Russian Imperial Stout used to make Día de los Muertos, aged in Catoctin Creek maple whisky barrels. Only 190 bottles featuring a hand-made cedar box will be available for purchase.

"Día de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout holds a special place in our (black) hearts,” said Adroit Theory owner, Mark Osbourne. “It is the perfect balance between bitter and sweet and is as complex as it is drinkable. When we had the opportunity to have this beer distilled into a whisky, we were thrilled. We've tasted the final whisky and to say it is amazing would be an understatement. We decided to brew a new version of our Día de los Muertos Russian Imperial Stout and age it in Catoctin Creek Maple whisky barrels, just for this release. The result of that aging is a decadent, full-bodied brew with spice and dark dried fruit on the nose, dark chocolate, coffee, caramel, roasted grains, and a boozy, yet smooth finish."

Click here for high-resolution photos.

Catoctin Creek Distilling’s distribution footprint includes the following 26 markets in the United States: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming, and internationally in Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

About Catoctin Creek Distilling: At Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, 120 West Main St., True Craft is Inspired by Tradition.℠ Founded by Scott and Becky Harris in 2009, Catoctin Creek made a name for itself as the first legal distillery since prohibition in Purcellville, Virginia’s Loudoun County. The craft distillery is home to Virginia’s most-awarded whisky, Roundstone Rye, which has been presented gold medals across the globe and stands out through its old-world production methods. Catoctin Creek prides itself on sourcing rye whisky, gin, and seasonal brandy from local and organic grains and fruits, with spirits available in 26 states and 3 continents. The Harris’ intricate attention to detail results in high quality internationally-acclaimed products, including seasonal releases and private cask offerings, that recognize the true craft of Virginia spirits. For more information, call (540) 751-8404 or visit Follow Catoctin Creek on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

About Adroit Brewing Company: Adroit Theory Brewing Company, 404 Browning Court, is a nano brewery located in Purcellville, Virginia. Since its inception in 2014, owner Mark Osbourne has continued to "push the envelope" in terms of what can be done with beer. From extensive barrel aging, revolutionary brewing techniques, or exotic ingredients and adjuncts, Adroit Theory has made genre defying beers. As a small brewery, it has flexibility in its experimentation; often making as little as one keg of beer at a time. Adroit Theory does not have "flagship" beers. Instead, it elects to produce an ongoing series of “one-off" beers. In its five-year history, it has made well over 750 distinct beers, with an emphasis on esoteric beers. Visitors to its tap room will often be greeted with 30+ choices, but those selections change often. For more information, call (703) 722-3144 or visit

Catoctin Creek in Best of Nova

Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia magazine included us in their Best of Nova feature again this year!  What an honor!  Stefanie Gans writes:

Catoctin Creek created the modern era of distilleries in George Washington’s playground. The husband-and-wife team—she’s the master distiller—set up shop in downtown Purcellville with a tasting room to showcase their award-winning spirits, like the flagship Roundstone Rye.

You can read the full story, here.

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.



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!

Scott & Becky

Rabble Rouser featured in Maxim

Rabble Rouser

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 releases from Virginia distillery Catoctin Creek have qualified as BIB, but this was the first one explicitly marketed as such. It’s a 100 percent rye whiskey that is spicy, earthy, and fruity.

You can read the full article, here.

Becky Harris in American Whiskey Magazine

Becky Harris

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, how did you go about deciding on your product range?

We were inspired by the history of spirits in the region, and specifically in Virginia. If you visit the distillery at Mount Vernon you can get an excellent sense of the deep roots of the business here. We ultimately decided that we wanted to focus on rye whisky, it was a crucial piece of whisky history in this country, as well as being under-represented in the marketplace. We had a vision of making rye, 100 per cent rye, from grain to bottle, with a focus on local content and small batch, pot still production.

Our first whisky, the Catoctin Creek 80 proof Roundstone Rye, has always been made from organic, or organically raised rye grain and has a spicy and fruity flavor profile with a kiss of mint. This is a youthful rye, aged in 30 gallon barrels to create a profile balanced between the influence of the oak and the grain spirit itself.

You can read the full interview, here.

The Austin Whiskey Vault reviews Maple Cask Rye

Enjoy this fun video from the guys at the Austin Whiskey Vault!  They hit the nail on the head in several of their points about our rye:

  • 100% rye
  • Blue Ridge Mountains
  • 100% potstilled
  • Not cloying or sweet - just great flavor coming from the maple
  • 100% fun!

Whiskey Wash reviews Rabble Rouser

Rabble Rouser

The Whiskey Wash reviews Rabble Rouser.  I think they love it, giving it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Cindy Capparelli writes:

4.5 of 5 stars. Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye has received multiple accolades. Think of the Rabble Rouser as its wilder cousin. “For the Roundstone, we want high level of reflux, so all the plates on the column are engaged. With the Rabble Rouser, the plates are disengaged, which captures a much rougher spirit, but with more of those fruity and nutty flavors. Then it spends longer in the barrel.”

You can read the entire story, here.

The 10 Best Bottled-in-Bond-Whiskies: Hiconsumption

Rabble Rouser

Hiconsumption gives us a little history about bottled-in-bond whiskey and what makes it special.  Then, he highlights the 10 best, and our Rabble Rouser is first on the list!  Sean Tirman writes:

With a name that harkens back to Old West barroom brawls and bootlegging, Catoctin Creek’s Rabble Rouser Bottled-in-Bond Rye is a much smoother and gentler drink than its name might suggest. As perfect in classic cocktails as it is on its own, this whiskey has a deep caramel color, both spice and sweetness on the tongue, and a finish that tapers off smoothly without lingering for too long. If you can find it, it should cost around $99 a bottle.

You can read the entire story, here.

Becky in Rachel Ray's magazine

Becky Harris, Chief Distiller, Catoctin Creek

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 Distillery in 2009, they became the owners of [Loudoun] County, Virginia's first legal distillery since prohibition, making Becky the county's first female chief distiller in almost a century. Prior to opening the distillery, Becky worked as a chemical engineer at companies, including Amoco and YDK America. Opening the distillery was her husband's idea, and though Becky wasn't a big whisky drinker before opening the distillery, she applied her science background to the distilling and production processes to create high-quality spirits that have earned great acclaim.

You can read the full article, here.

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!



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!

Scott & Becky

Bit by a Fox podcast

Bit by a Fox

If you ever want to hear the deep origin story of Catoctin Creek, this podcast is the best we've heard yet.  Prairie Rose was enormously gracious in listening to my mid-life crisis story:

As I said in the podcast, "I wanted to do something made by hand. ...  Well, I'd love to make whisky!"

You can listen to the full podcast here, or download the MP3 here.

Latest News

Catoctin Creek - Best of Virginia 2022

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

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American Whiskey: Profile on Catoctin Creek

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

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The Spirits Business: Ten female-founded spirits brands

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

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Contact Us

Catoctin Creek Distillery

Catoctin Creek Distillery
120 W Main St
Purcellville, VA 20132

Tel +1-540-751-8404

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Latest Events

GWAR Ragnarök Rye Release

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

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Catoctin Creek Bottling Workshop

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

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

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

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