Warm Up from the Cold with These Local Virginian Spirits
With the cold months coming in and the hard frosts in November, there’s nothing like a hot adult beverage–with a little bit of spice or syrup, a faint curl of steam, and an aroma that enhances the beautiful fall weather. Virginia is home to some 50 distilleries, and Northern Virginia boasts a few of them.
Local distilleries offer unique tastes and ideas that can fill your liquor cabinet, your glass, and your tastes. Impress family in town with some of these local spirits, or take them to some of these distilleries for a special experience.
Take an uber or a taxi out to Manassas to book a tasting at KO Distilling, where gin and whiskey are both on the menu. Tasting room hours are best on the weekend, perhaps during a rainy afternoon. Perhaps tour Bull Run in Manassas and follow it up with a whiskey tasting. Wine Mag declares Bare Knuckle Straight Wheat Whiskey to be one of the best whiskeys for an old fashioned, with notes of mocha, oak, and vanilla. The aftertaste of cherry suggests Manhattans as well.
Co-founder Bill Karlson is proud of his company’s lifecycle of local products. “Specifically, we use corn, wheat, and rye from Bays Best Feed Farm in Heathsville, which is 90 miles from KO,” he told Northern Virginia Mag. “Our malted barley is also sourced from Bays Best…When we’re done distilling the grain, we give it to a local cattle farmer who then uses it as a supplement for his cows. So it kind of goes full circle from farm to farm.”
If you can’t make it to Manassas, head over to the Caboose Tavern in Vienna, where this whiskey is on tap.
Vodka, gin, and bootleg lemonade–these can all be found in Bristow, VA, at MurLarkey Spirits. Not only can you book a table for Thirsty Thursdays, but also you can try one of their mixology classes, which includes a canape pairing for each cocktail.
The bourbon is nationally recognized–it won double gold at the 13 annual New York International Spirits Competition. Since its beginning, the distillery has continued to release several award-winning spirits–included flavored whiskey, a cinnamon whiskey, coffee whiskey, and “Best Craft Cocktails” from Virginia Living Magazine.
Located in Purcellville, Catoctin Creek specializes in rye whiskey–a classic spirit for November. With dozens of events open to the public, including a bottling workshop where people can learn to bottle and seal rye whiskey, to tours and tastings, even if you don’t like rye, after a sip or two of Catoctin’s, you will.
Voted as best in the city by the DC Modern Luxury magazine, the best place to start here is with the Roundstone Rye 80 Proof, described by founder Becky Harris as a “front porch sipper of a rye – a gateway for folks who don’t know they like rye.”
Belmont Farm Distillery
At the end of the day, this state is still Southern, and moonshine is still a proud tradition around here–if you can stomach it. Fortunately, Belmont Farm Distillery offers a gentle, refined corn whiskey moonshine that goes well with any cocktail or on its own. For those who like a bit of flavor with their moonshine, the Virginia Lightning Apple Pie brings a taste of Virginia apple juice mixed with whiskey. Other flavors include cherry, peach, and butterscotch–imagine the possibilities!
Located in Culpeper, the distillery has other products, including whiskey and rum.
Update Your Home Mixology
If you want to take all these local spirits and make incredible drinks at home, check out some local mixology classes–especially this virtual one hosted by the Junior League of Northern Virginia. You’ll be able to put your knowledge and ingredients to good use for the holidays!