With exciting events and award winning spirits, the Catoctin Creek Distilling Company has quickly found its way into many people’s hearts. The owners’ entire family is involved in this small artisanal business, their lifestyle and products are environmentally friendly, they support local businesses, and it’s fun to watch their team at work. It is a perfect place to take a day trip or weekend away this fall season, with family-friendly tours and adult tastings.
At a “Virginia is for Lovers” event in the Chelsea Market, I first learned about the Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, located in Purcellville, Virginia. Founded in 2009, it is the first legal distillery in Loudon County since Prohibition. The distillery is owned by Becky and Scott Harris, and produces rye, whiskey, gin, and flavored brandies.
The distillery, which is located just over an hour away from Washington, DC by car, hosts events such as musical performances and monthly cocktail dinners, in addition to low-cost tours and tastings. Now is a better time than ever to head out to the area.
Their weekend events include things like a 1940s themed party with music and dancing, nearby in Oatlands that features Catoctin Creek cocktails. The party will also feature Doc Scantlin’s Palmettos, wines by Fabbioli Cellars, and food by Magnolias at the Mill.
If you are more of a whiskey fan, you can attend Spirited History: A Tasting of History & Whiskeys at Aldie Mill, a popular event the distillery does every year. Count on sampling five delicious courses, each paired with a different whiskey, all served along with interesting facts about the beverage’s history.
There are other fun events at lower cost, such as watching Chris Ayer perform at the distillery for $25 per person. Attendees for these events must be age 21 and up. Events fill up, so it is a good idea to purchase tickets in advance.
Parents never fear! The general tours of the family-owned distillery are $5 and the whole family is invited. (The tastings, on the other hand, are offered to adults ages 21 and older only; a standard one is also $5, and a premium tasting, which includes cocktails, brandy and seasonal offerings, is $10.)
While you’re in the area, grab a burger right across the street at Market Burger, a great place to take the kids that calls itself “farm to fork.”
Cactoctin is more of a lifestyle than a gin joint. It not only provides cocktail recipes on their website, they also provide food recipes, which incorporate the spirits from the distillery into various dishes from popcorn toppings, to banana nut cake, to a chorizo dish. Their products are organic and Kosher. This means that the spirits produced in the distillery do not have synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers, the water is filtered to ensure it is clean, and the company is inspected annually to ensure the quality of care put into the spirits is maintained.
In addition, the owners had a solar panel installed on the roof of the distillery in 2013, which currently offsets approximately 85% of the electrical use in the distillery. Becky and Scott Harris do not keep all of the solar energy for themselves — when it is very sunny, the solar plant can generate enough electricity for five households, and returns some energy to the public grid. They also provide information about the solar panels to the public.
The distillery has developed a strong reputation on the east coast of the United States. The spirits have been positively reviewed in The Philadelphia Sun, Northern Virginia Magazine, and Washington Post, among others. The family has received awards for their products, ranging from the 2013 Gold Medal for the Green Business Challenge to the Virginia’s Finest award for their Roundstone Rye, Mosby’s Spirit, and Watershed Gin. Rye remains their most popular product.
If you can’t make the trip to Virginia this summer or fall, Catoctin Creek spirits are available in different locations along the east coast in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming.
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