Photo credit: Tom Daly
Virginia, ranked among the top 5 states for number of wineries, is also picking up buzz for distilleries. This resurgence is certainly not something new for Virginia, as our founding father, George Washington, was incidentally also one of the largest whiskey producers in the country. One of the newest to the scene is Virginia Distillery Company, located about halfway between Charlottesville and Lynchburg, tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I recently took a walking tour of the grounds and facility, which is a great day trip for those visiting the area.
The Virginia Whisky Experience launched this month, showcasing a whisky museum, video and tour. This 75-minute tour will educate guests on the origins of single malt whisky in Scotland as well as Virginia, and includes a walking tour of the production facility. The open-air grounds sitting amid the mountains make for breathtaking views.
Photo credit: Tom Daly
The distillery's current product, Virginia Highland Malt, is an aged malt whisky that is brought over from Scotland. The whisky is then cask-finished in Virginia port-style wine barrels for an additional six to 12 months to add nuances of dried fruit, toffee and dark cocoa. Actual on-site distillation in the 15,000-square-foot production facility began in November 2015. With malted barley brought over from the U.K. and water from the Blue Ridge Mountains, this signature Virginia whisky, the Virginia Single Malt, will be released in three to six years' time.
In addition to the recipe, the equipment being used also came from Scotland, including the mashtun, washbacks and these beautiful hand-hammered copper stills. The distillery expects to produce approximately 4,100 casks by the end of 2016. At full capacity, the distillery can produce 8,000 casks annually.
After a firsthand look at whisky making in action, the tour ends in the cask house, where one is surrounded by whisky barrels. There is a tasting option of Virginia Highland Malt.
Outside, the new 2,000-square-foot patio includes a water-and-fire feature, green zone and seating for 50. Keeping it local, blue stone and field stone make up the majority of the patio, along with tabletops and accents from the Alberene Soapstone quarry, located right down the road from the distillery.
If you're planning a visit to Virginia to tour some amazing wineries, keep in mind this growing hotbed for whisky as an added stop.
Tours are offered daily and may be booked online at Virginia Distillery Visitors Center. Various tours can be booked, with a maximum of 16 people per tour. Virginia Highland Malt Whiskey is available in Virginia, Washington DC, New York and Massachusetts. Additional markets are set to open and you can keep up with where to find them here.