If you’re a teetotaller, you may want to stop reading right now.
Today is Virginia Spirits Day. That means all Virginia ABC stories are knocking 20 percent off the regular price of 10 craft spirits made by Virginia distillers, including one made in the Culpeper region.
Copper Fox Rye Whisky, made by distiller Rick Wasmund in Sperryville, is one of the 10 featured “made with love” commonwealth concoctions that will be discounted in the stores and online while supplies last. The other spirits are rum, moonshine, applejack, vodka and bourbon. Customers are limited to three bottles of each spirit. The discount is also available at select distillery stores.
In a similar vein, ABC stores statewide this month will feature almost 400 in-store tastings featuring Virginia distillers, including Culpeper County’s Belmont Farm Distillery.
Belmont’s offerings will be available for a taste from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, and Friday, Sept 13, at the ABC store in Southgate Shopping Center in Culpeper. In the Fredericksburg area, local wares from A. Smith Bowman, Virginia Distillery Co. and Twin Creek Distillery will be available for sampling, respectively, on Sept. 13, 14, and 28. For the complete list, visit virginiaspirits.org or click here.
All of this fun is part of the 4th annual Virginia Spirits Month, which Gov. Ralph Northam kicked off last Thursday with more than 20 Virginia distilleries at Mount Vernon, where the father of our country built and ran a highly profitable distillery—one of the new nation’s largest.
The campaign supports sales and education for Virginia’s craft spirits industry and also celebrates the 400th anniversary of distilled spirits production in the United States. The trade began with Virginia colonist George Thorpe distilling the first batch of corn whiskey in 1620.
“Virginia is the birthplace of American spirits, and our distilleries continue to represent one of the fastest growing sectors of our booming beverage industry,” Gov. Northam said in a statement. “I am proud to celebrate Virginia Spirits Month and the important contributions of our high-quality distilled spirits to the commonwealth’s rich history and thriving economy.”
Northam also launched the Virginia Spirits Trail and Passport Program, sponsored by Virginia Tourism Corp.
The trail shares the history of Virginia’s distilled spirits and provides tourists with a map detailing the locations of 28 participating distilleries. The passport program encourages multiple visits and gives travelers a free trail T-shirt once they visit 10 distilleries. Consumers can download a digital copy of the trail or request the printed version by visiting VirginiaSpirits.org.
“As we kick off Virginia Spirits Month, I can think of no better time to celebrate the launch of the Virginia Spirits Trail,” Rita McClenny, Virginia Tourism’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “This is an important new product development for the tourism industry in Virginia, as visitors from around the world will be able to sip premier spirits across the commonwealth. This trail is an important and exciting addition to our culinary scene and will show travelers that some of the best things made in Virginia come in a bottle. We can’t wait for travelers to discover for themselves why Virginia is for Spirits Lovers.”
Culpeper County is home to two distillers, Belmont Farms Distillery near Mitchells and Old House Distillery in Stevensburg. In the region, neighboring distillers include Copper Fox in Sperryville, A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Spotsylvania County, and Vitae Spirits in Charlottesville.
Old House is both a winery and a brewery. And with its line of spirits, it is the only triple-threat producer in Virginia.
A handful of Virginia wineries also produce a craft beer. Or a brewery may partner with a local winery to offer tastings of both. But only Old House, on a single campus, produces all three—wine, distilled spirits and craft beer.
“I’m thrilled to see the launch of this trail,” said Paige Read, the town of Culpeper’s director of economic development and tourism. “Virginia distillers are producing world-class liquid love.”
Culpeper has everything from harvest triple-distilled vodka, to blue agave nectar, to moonshine, spiced rum and more, Read said.
Culpeper’s Old House Distillery is producing some unique combinations, such as stouts aging in bourbon barrels, white wine aging in agave barrels, and brandy aging in corn-whiskey barrels, she said.
“This spirits trail will bring new attention to our producers and new visitors to our area,” Read added. “Designed to encourage visitation to 10 distilleries, the trail enhances Virginia as a beverage destination. Best part is, those who are road-tripping to Virginia distilleries will have ample access to Virginia wineries and breweries along the way. Research shows that the average libations-travel party is spending over $1,000 per trip over 3.6 nights. This is a major industry for Virginia, and Culpeper is home to some of the best.”
Since the Spirits Month campaign began, September sales at Virginia ABC stores and distillery stores have grown by 85 percent.
“Virginia ABC is proud to carry more than 200 Virginia-made spirits crafted in distilleries across the Commonwealth,” said Travis Hill, CEO of Virginia ABC. “September being Virginia Spirits Month is a great opportunity to highlight the success of this industry in Virginia, and show our support for Virginia distillers and the contributions they make to the economy and tourism industry.”
Other highlights of 2019’s Spirits Month, include a month’s worth of additional discounts and special product offerings. For the full list, click here.
And during Virginia Spirits Roadshows, fans will have a chance to taste samples and speak with local distillers on Sept. 14 at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond (3-8 p.m., 621 South Belvidere St.); Sept. 21 at Alexandria’s Building Momentum Co-op Space (3-8 p.m., 5380 Eisenhower Avenue, Suite C); and Sept. 28 at A. Smith Bowman Distillery (12-5 p.m., 1 Bowman Drive, Fredericksburg).
“Distilleries are a rapidly growing part of Virginia’s economy and are helping define Virginia as a beverage destination,” said Gareth H. Moore, president and CEO of Virginia Distillery Co. “Virginia Spirits Month provides an opportunity for consumers to connect with our industry and broaden awareness.”
The Virginia Spirits Trail was also made possible through support from VirginiaHop On Tours, which provides customizable tours and reliable transportation for spirited visitors.