Ironclad Distilling Company of Newport News, Virginia released "Betrayal" Straight Virginia Rye Whiskey today to become the 25th producer on the Virgina Rye Whiskey trail.
From the owners of Ironclad: "Our distillery is owned by a small family of three. One of them claimed we'd only ever make bourbon. Then one day, another made a rye. Now, we all divulge to you: Our family's Betrayal."
"Introducing our new Virginia Straight Rye Whiskey, aged over two years and bottled with three collectible labels at 100 Proof."
"Made with Virginia-grown Abruzzi rye grain from a small family farm in Culpeper (a varietal chosen for its origins from our ancestral grounds and unique flavor profile), this rye rounds out with a full mash bill of Virginia-grown corn and wheat, plus our proprietary blend of malted grains."
Did you know that George Washington operated one of the most successful whiskey distilleries in America in the late 1700s at George Washington's Mount Vernon.
One of the great origin stories of Virginia Rye Whiskey. There are now 24 distilleries in Virginia following George's lead and commercially producing Rye Whiskey.
At the suggestion of James Anderson, Mount Vernon’s Scottish farm manager, George Washington began distilling whiskey at his Dogue Run Farm in 1797. The success in the first year’s efforts, using two stills in his cooperage, led to the construction of a large purpose-built whiskey distillery built and operated by a skilled team of enslaved African-Americans. Constructed over the winter of 1797-1798, the distillery housed five copper pot stills and produced large amounts of rye whiskey in 1798 and 1799, making it Washington’s most profitable enterprise.
In 1799 alone, the distillery produced nearly 11,000 gallons of whiskey, likely making it the largest of its kind in America.
With the generous support of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and its members, the distillery was reconstructed on the original site, based upon archaeological and historical evidence. The project was completed in 2006, and in early 2007 the site opened to the public, offering tours in season, and making whiskey anew. (Story and images provided by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States) https://www.mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/distillery-gristmill/
The latest distillery to be added to the Virginia Rye Whiskey Trail is Rooster's Rise-n-Shine Distillery out of Franklin County, Virginia. Rooster's is named after the Hodges Family patriarch, Ronald "Rooster" Hodges. Building on a very long family tradition of whiskey making, Roosters Distillery has created an unique 90 Proof Virginia Rye recipe containing 56% rye grain, 25% wheat, and 19% malted barley. https://roostersdistillery.com/
Virginia Rye Whiskey Producer #23
In just 3 short years the list of Virginia Rye Whiskey producers has more than doubled, from 10 to 23.
The newest addition is JT Smith, a 4th generation maker of Virginia Whiskey, and the son of America’s Most Wanted Moonshiner, Tim Smith. He was first introduced to the world in 2011 as he learned his family’s heritage on the show Moonshiners airing on The Discovery Channel. These days he is following in his father’s footsteps as a business man, making a name and place for himself in that family heritage, introducing an old spirit to a new generation of drinkers.
JT Rye Whiskey is produced in a 1933 copper still on the family farm, Belmont, in Culpeper, Virginia.
This 93% rye, 7% malted barley whiskey is aged with Applewood chips and proofed at 88.
RY3 now available in Virginia!
Attention Rye Whiskey Lovers in Virginia: RY3 is here!
After a long wait, Virginia Beach Rye maker Phenomenal Spirits has announced RY3 Whiskey 100 Proof is now available in 107 VA ABC stores across the state. Go get your bottle of this vintage rum cask finished rye today!
A Family Tradition
Long in history and craftsmanship, the families of Franklin County know how to make great whiskey. Twin Creeks Distillery is at the forefront of the revival for this local industry. Watch this wonderful video to learn more, then head down to Franklin County to get a taste for yourself.
On display at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond... a circa 1900s bottle of Wakefield Virginia Rye Whiskey from the Culpeper, Virginia Liquor Company. The story of Wakefield Rye is quite an interesting tale.
The Lowenbachs: Whiskey in Three Generations
A name that continues to arise in the liquor trade in both Virginia and Maryland is Lowenbach. While not all the details are clear, there is sufficient information to give us substantial clues to the family and their activities, including the bottles and artifacts they left behind.
The story begins in Harrisonburg, Virginia with a merchant there, probably a liquor dealer, name Moritz (aka Morris) Lowenbach. The 1860 census recorded him as born in 1825 in Konigwart, a spa town in what now the Czech Republic. After emigrating to the U.S. and settling in Virginia, the Lowenbachs became an established extended family in Harrisonburg. One Jonas Lowenbach was recorded as a sucessful tanner and a founder of the Rockingham Bank. At the time of the census Moritz was 35 years old and married to a Virginia-born woman named Sarah, who was eleven years his junior. At that point they had no children but three years later Sarah would give birth to a boy they named Charles. Soon this son would have a sister Lillie, also known as Lizzie.
About 1870, Moritz moved from Harrisonburg to Baltimore where a brother, unnamed, was living and began a liquor business there. He called it Moritz Lowenbach & Co. Over the years the company moved several times to addresses on West Pratt Street and South Howard. The company flagship brand was “Old Pimlico,” a familiar Maryland name. Another brand was “Old Private Stock”.
Sometime during this period, Sarah died. Perhaps wanting a mother for his children, Moritz is recorded as having married a second time. This time his wife was Bertha, a woman 18 years younger than her husband, an immigrant from Germany. She gave birth to two more children, Joseph and Emma. Evidence is that she was a loving stepmother and the two sets of children appear to have been close.
As Charles Lowenbach was growing up, his father brought him into his liquor business. Eventually, perhaps when his father’s Baltimore firm went out of business in 1898, the son moved to Virginia, the state of his birth, and began a liquor dealership in Alexandria. He brought his younger half brother, Joseph, into the business with him. They called their liquor dealership Lowenbach Brothers. The business was located at King and Alfred Streets in what now is Old Town, Alexandria.
The Potomac Bottle Club has listed a number of bottles from this firm, including a 9.5 inch round glass jug with ears and a wood handle. It advertised “Virginia Rye Whiskey” Other glass containers included a “lady’s leg” quart with a fluted neck and base. A detail of the face of that bottle proclaims: “From Lowenbach Bros. Liquor Dealers, Alexandria. A straight necked bottle with the same slugplate also has found its way into local collections.
Lowenbach Bros.’ flagship whiskey brand was "Wakefield Rye," a label they advertised widely in Alexandria newspapers. A 1910 ad shows the partners were not modest in their claims. It trumpeted that Wakefield Rye was the “Best Medicinal Whiskey” and that their store was the headquarters for the “Best Wines and Liquors in the City.” A second ad claimed that “If You Want a Good Medicinal Whiskey -- the Right Kind” you should drink theirs.
As many liquor dealers of that time, the Lowenbachs issued giveaway items to favored customers. Among them was a celluloid pocket mirror with a striking picture of the Greek goddess of the hunt, known as Diana. A close-up of the item shows that it advertised Wakefield Rye Whiskey at $4.00 a gallon.
Meanwhile, one of the Lowenbach Bros., Charles, was having a personal life. About 1886, according to census records, he married India Lewis. They would have two sons, Maurice R., born in 1892 and Lawrence, born in 1893. As the business progressed, Charles and his family moved to Leesburg, Virginia. Brother Joseph, who may never have married, was recorded living at 900 King Street with a manservant.
Lowenbach Bros. appear to have established another whiskey dealership in Culpeper, Virginia. The DC bottle book records a labeled half pint that advertises “Pure Old Country Brandy from Lowenbach Bros. of Alexandria and Culpeper. That designation and other clues indicate that the “mystery bottle” shown here with Taye Griffin, the man who dug it, was a product of Lowenbach Bros. It is embossed in large letters “Wakefield Rye,” the brother’s flagship brand. The embossing also reads “The Culpeper Liquor Company, VA.” According to a newspaper report, Griffin had been researching the origin and location of the business in Culpeper for two decades without any success. The guess is that they operated a storefront from which the brothers sold their liquor.
As Lawrence Lowenbach matured he join Lowenbach Bros. in Alexandria. City directories for several years in the 1910s listed him as a bookkeeper at the firm and boarding at 2226 S. Columbus Street. When Virginia voted statewide Prohibition in 1916, Lowenbach Bros. was forced out of business. After three generations in the whiskey trade, members had to find new occupations. The 1930 census recorded Charles and his wife, India, still living in Leesburg at 316 King Street. Charles was working as the manager of a hardware store. Other Lowenbachs lived next door, likely a nephew and his family.
Charles died in 1937, followed by his wife in 1948. The two are buried in Leesburg’s Union Cemetery where they occupy Plat B, Lot 638, Site 3. Laurence Lowenbach, who died in 1944, is buried near them. No evidence exists that Lawrence attempted to open a liquor dealership after Repeal in 1934. Thus ended the Lowenbach dynasty that over three generations did whiskey business in two states and four towns.
Note: The information for this article came from a variety of sources, principally census records.
The original article can be found at the following link:
Silverback bumps it up a notch!
NEW PRODUCT RELEASE: Silverback ups their game on Virginia Honey Rye Whiskey.
Their best selling 70 Proof Blackback Honey Rye now has a big bother, 90 Proof Silverback Alpha Series Honey Rye Whiskey. Made with a local Honey liqueur and Virginia Rye, this recipe is a winner.
Crafted from a 65% Rye mash bill and aged for a minimum of 4 years. This rye malt creation from Cape Charles Distillery results in spicy notes with a sweet, subtle fruity body. 90 Proof. Congrats on producing a beautiful bottle of Virginia Rye LOVE!
Announcing the 22nd Virginia Rye Whiskey producer. Welcome Brady's Distillery, Roanoke, VA!
3 Roanoke natives, Tim, Brian and Andy decided a while back to bring something to their hometown that had not been done in over 100 years. Founded in 2020, Brady's Distillery offers carefully blended and aged craft spirts. https://bradysdistillery.com/
The distillery is located at 711 Pocahontas Ave Ne, Roanoke, VA 24012
Featuring their Toasted Rye:
"2 years and the rye is good. It's amazing how much flavor a rye whiskey can pull from a barrel in such a short amount of time. Bourbon has such subtle nuances that take many more years for the flavors to mellow. A rye whiskey has a spiciness to it that lends itself to a more oak forward flavor that you get during the first few years of aging. So we took it a step forward. We got toasted barrels (not just the barrel head, the whole barrel) and transferred the two year rye into a toasted barrel for a secondary aging process. It has been amazing to watch the flavor change so drastically week by week, month by month, until we got it right where we wanted it. Look for our twice aged, double oaked, rye whiskey coming soon." - Brady's Distillery
Congratulations Ragged Branch on taking home The Best-in-Category for your delicious Virginia Straight Rye! 2022 New Orleans Spirits Competition.
Ragged Branch Distillery, a farm-to-bottle whiskey distillery in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is proud to announce a sweeping victory at the prestigious New Orleans Spirits Competition. Three Ragged Branch bottled-in-bond whiskeys took home Best of Category awards, outshining a worthy class of contenders and showcasing the hard work and craftsmanship of the artisan distillery. https://www.raggedbranch.com/
"We couldn't be prouder that the whiskeys we sent to New Orleans are coming home with such distinguished awards," says Alex Toomy, founding partner and head distiller at Ragged Branch Distillery. "We work hard every day to make the best whiskey we can, and it's wonderful to receive independent affirmation that we're succeeding."
Generational Whiskey Knowledge
Virginia is for Rye Lovers series. #4
Enjoy Virginia Rye Whiskey from the wettest county in US history. Franklin County, Virginia. Visit Twin Creeks Distillery https://www.twincreeksdistillery.com/ and Franklin County Distillers. https://fcdmoonshine.com/
New York Double-Gold Winner!
Three Crosses Noble Hound Dark Virginia Rye takes home Double-Gold in the NY International Spirits Competition! And was scored at 96 points. Congratulations!
The NY International Spirits Competition received more than 1400 products from 39 different countries this year. Among all those entries, the judges unanimously awarded Noble Hound Dark Rye a Double Gold Medal. This unique Virginia Rye whiskey by Three Crosses is a traditional high rye whiskey finished in port-style wine barrels.
Three Crosses also won the NYIS Virginia Flavored Whiskey Distillery of the Year Award. Visit Three Crosses in Powhatan, Virginia for a taste of great Virginia Whiskies.
Dave Pickerell Award Winner!
Virginia Rye distiller Catoctin Creek takes home national acclaim. The 2022 "Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year Award" from the Distilled Spirits Council.
The "Bee Sting"!
A new recipe from Bia Kitchen in Purcellville, VA. The "Bee Sting" - Catoctin Creek Virginia Rye Whiskey, ginger simple syrup, lemon juice, champagne and floral bitters. Oh yah! https://biakitchen.com/
Report from Three Crosses Distilling Company:
"TWO SILVERS AND A GOLD - Our spirits each brought home awards this year from the US Whiskey Championship. If you haven't tried our whiskeys yet, come see why they are award winning." - Three Crosses
Congrats on the GOLD for Noble Hound Virginia Dark Rye! And a SILVER for Noble Hound Virginia Rye.
Report from Catoctin Creek Distillery, Purcellville, Virginia:
" We have arrived at Mecca: the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel, London. So proud just to be in this building, 133 years of cocktail history. Hullo, London! How's about some fine Virginia rye?"
The 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition Awards Double Gold to both Ragged Branch Distillery and KO Distilling for their Bottled-in-Bond Rye offerings.
The San Francisco World Spirits Competition Is Now The Largest In The World
The San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) has just finished its 22nd annual judging of spirits. Founded in 2000, the SFWSC is the oldest competition in North America. A total of 70 judges drawn from all over the world evaluated approximately 5,000 spirits over two weeks in April 2022.
Hitting 5,000 entrants for the SFWSC marked a milestone in what has been an amazing year for us. Not only is the SFWSC now the largest spirits competition in the world, but we saw growth across all spirit categories” - Amanda Blue, President of the Tasting Alliance, the parent organization of the SFWSC.
2022 Virginia Rye Whiskey Results:
KO Distilling – Manassas, VA
Distiller’s Reserve Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey – Double Gold
Ragged Branch Distillery – Charlottesville, VA
Virginia Straight Rye Whiskey Bottled in Bond – Double Gold
Napotnik Reserve Straight Rye Whiskey Barrel Proof – Silver
Reservoir Distillery – Richmond, VA
100% Rye – Bronze
Silverback Distillery – Afton, VA
Blackback Honey Rye Whiskey – Bronze
Congratulations to all the winners!
Check out the replay of the new ZAVVY conversation with Catoctin Creek co-founder and Head Distiller Becky Harris. Learn just how much see knows about making beautiful Virginia Ryes.
Whisky Advocate 2022 Rye Whiskey Issue
Lots of Virginia Rye Whiskey LOVE in the new Whisky Advocate magazine RYE issue. Congratulations to Catoctin Creek Distilling and Copperfox Distillery on some great ratings.
KO DISTILLING DISTILLER’S RESERVE RYE
Score: 90 points
KO Distilling Distiller's Reserve Rye. Image courtesy KO Distilling. This bottled in bond rye was matured for four years and seven months, and the nose has nice warm notes of baking spices, black cherries, a hint of peaches, and a soft oakiness. The taste is full of black cherries, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and hints of peaches, red apples, caramel, and vanilla in the background. The spices linger nicely on the finish with a nice balance. (March, 2022)
It's Getting Dark!
Third in the "Virginia is for Rye Lovers" series.
Get out to the village of Powhatan, Virginia and enjoy the award winning spirits created by the Davenports at Three Crosses Distilling Company. Especially intriguing is their Noble Hound Dark Virginia Rye Whiskey.
Besides creative libations and friendly service, you will experience tasty food from their full service gastro bar, and lots of fun events. http://www.threecrossesdistilling.com/
1868: Old Virginia Mountain Rye Whiskey
Lycurgus Ezekiel Savage (1827-1893) established L.E. Savage's Sons Virginia Rye Whiskey Distillery, Kernstown, VA (Northern Shenandoah Valley) in 1868 with S.R. Pritchard. He gained full control of the business in 1875 after Pritchard's death and eventually moved it to the nearby city of Winchester and added salesrooms in the region. Joseph H. Savage continued the business after his father's passing. In 1907 you could bring your own jug to the distillery and pick up a gallon for between $1.58 and $2.95 per gallon depending on the age.
Virginia Rye Distillers Win Big!
Virginia Rye Distillers take home the bacon in the 2022 Best of the Blue Ridge Readers Choice Awards from Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine.
Congratulations to Five Mile Mountain Distillery, Twin Creeks Distillery, Silverback Distillery, and Catoctin Creek Distilling!
Top Distillery Winner - Five Mile Mountain Distillery (Floyd, Va.)
Named for one of the main roads used to transport moonshine out of the area during Prohibition, Five Mile Mountain Distillery is continuing southwest Virginia’s storied history of producing spirits. “Being from this area, we were always around moonshine,” said co-owner and distiller Patrick Sisk. “People were constantly making it in their sheds.” You can visit the tasting room and sit on the porch as you sip favorites like Five Mile’s Elderberry Moonshine. Made from grains sourced locally in a distillery the owners renovated themselves, these spirits combine the traditions of the past with the innovation of the present.
Twin Creeks (Rocky Mount, Va.)
Silverback Distillery (Afton, Va.)
Top Spirits Winner -
Peg Hatcher’s Straight (Rye) Whiskey—Twin Creeks Distillery (Rocky Mount, Va.)
Tie – Big Level Bourbon—Smooth Ambler Spirits (Maxwelton, W.Va.) and Amaro Flora—Eda Rhyne (Asheville, N.C.) Roundstone Rye—Catoctin Creek (Purcellville, Va.)
A little blast from the past.
Stories about Virginia Rye Whiskey, its makers and supporting organizations and individuals. as well as related distilled spirits industry news.