Ramble On

Monday, January 7, 2013

Visiting Sperryville's Copper Fox Distillery

During October’s meeting of the Blue Ridge Brewers Association (there’s a blog link in the right hand column), my introduction to the group, as a matter of fact, there were several very interesting topics covered while we enjoyed sampling each other’s beers.  With several established hobby hopyards represented, the group had set out to find one of the remaining traditional beer ingredients locally:  barley.

A local farmer had committed an acre to growing an appropriate variety, but the group still faced the challenge of how to malt it.  A little research led to the discovery of the Copper Fox distillery over in Sperryville, where Rick Wasmund has an operation that uses Virginia-grown barley to produce several whiskey varieties. 

There’s more about Rick’s operation here http://www.oldtowncrier.com/archive/589-rick-wasmund.  

Rick brought some of the barley he uses with him and shared it with the group.  It is smoked on fruitwood, and several members are brewing porters with it that they will have ready for tasting at the January meeting.

Well, after all that back story, I really want to write about is visiting the distillery a couple of weeks ago.  My buddy Chris had come out with a plan to hike that weekend, but there were weather-related difficulties and we ended up canceling the hike.  Since we’d planned to go over to Sperryville anyway (we were going to hike Buck Hollow and the trail head is on US 211 just west of Sperryville) we decided instead to head on over to the “Copper Fox” Distillery – where Wasmunds Whiskey is made.

Tours are offered, but they’ve decided there is too much liability for giving tastings.  But here you can take a look around and see how the malting is done, see where the fruitwood smoking takes place, and then head over for the fermentation, distilling, and barreling rooms. 

I’ve been to places like this before – the Ansbach Uralt brandy plant on the Rhein River in Germany comes to mind.  But what made this special for me is the fact that it’s an all-Virginia product that is made locally to Hawksbill Cabin, probably only 15 miles as the crow flies from the house, a bit longer to drive.

After we met Rick at the brewing club meeting Mary bought me a bottle of the single malt, which I’ve been enjoying and sharing.  I’m happy to recommend the distillery as an outing – I’m looking forward to taking friends there from time to time.  And we’ll enjoy the whiskey too.  

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