Just an hour from Washington, in the town of Purcellville, husband and wife Scott and Rebecca Harris are operating the first distillery in Loudoun County since Prohibition. Located in an out-of-the-way industrial park, the Catoctin Creek Distilling Co. defies the expectations of the romantic view of American whiskey-making. Instead, from the gleaming copper still to a space-age looking temperature control tent, to the neatly stacked barrels, there is something almost clinical about the way Rebecca, a former chemical engineer, and Scott, a former software engineer, run their operation.
The result is a collection of high quality, handcrafted, small-batch spirits, including the most popular Catoctin’s Roundstone Rye, a four-month aged 100 percent rye whiskey. The distillery also produces a gin, brandies (from locally grown grapes, of course), and a wonderful white whiskey called Mosby’s Spirit. This un-aged spirit is an ode to the kind of 19th-century moonshine that was once so popular in Virginia. White whiskies are often uncomplicated and quite harsh. Catoctin’s is floral and citrusy, with a smoothness and drinkability that is the greatest testament to the care and attention to detail that the Harrises put into their operation.
Scott is an enthusiastic tour guide, giving his guests a demonstration that includes the processes of fermentation, distillation, aging and bottling. During the week, visitors can see the distillery in production. The Harrises also offer seminars on the business of craft distilling and hold bottling parties, where guests help run the company’s bottler and sign and note the bottles they fill.