From Catoctin Creek Distillery:
"Get ready for a taste sensation like no other. Our latest creation is a blend of our signature Rye Whisky infused with three local Virginia honeys - wildflower, clover, and buckwheat - and a touch of hot chili peppers that'll awaken your taste buds! But that's not all! We're buzzing with excitement to share that for every bottle of Hot Honey Rye sold, we're donating $1 to bee conservation. Our commitment to the environment is as strong as our dedication to crafting exceptional spirits. Get ready to experience the perfect blend of sweet and spicy – a taste adventure you won't want to miss!" Launching October 1st, 2023
With the widest selection of spirit choices available from any distiller in Virginia (over 2 dozen), Trial & Error Distillery in Richmond, Virginia now offers one of Virginia's newest Rye Whiskies. This beautiful high-rye (95%) expression is made from Virginia grown malted rye and barley grains.
For a truly unique, small batch, highly experimental, (and very tasty) distillery experience visit Trial & Error, the latest stop on The Virginia Rye Whiskey Trail.
Whisky Magazine, out of the United Kingdom, gave Filibuster Dual Cask Straight Virginia Rye Whiskey a "Recommended" review. High praise from one of the world's leading spirits publications. Cheers!
Click on the link for the full review:
On June 3rd we had the opportunity to go to the VA Spirits Expo in Charlottesville, Virginia. The selection of Distilleries to try was vast (23 in all). The crowds were even bigger.
12 of the Distilleries are makers of Virginia Rye Whiskey Brands, so we had lots to try and a bunch of people say hi to. Everything we had was good, and the customers we interacted with all seem to LOVE the Ryes, even those who pronounced themselves as only liking Bourbon. You never know until you try. :-)
Thanks to VASpirits and DrinkLocal for hosting and to all the Virginia Rye Distilleries who showed us such a good time. Sincerely, Dale W. Neal
The list of 12 Virginia Rye Distilleries who attended:
A nicely detailed article on the benefits of growing a higher quality cereal rye grain cover crop and selling some of the harvest instead of terminating it. Can selling rye grain to distillers work as an alternative for farmers in Virginia?
Written on 9/30/2022 By Matthew Wilde , Progressive Farmer Crops Editor
Gaesser Farms harvests and sells a small portion of its cereal rye cover crops to help make the conservation practice pay.
Ray Gaesser and his son, Chris, harvested 6,300 bushels off 100 acres that will be sold for cover crop seed to local farmers and to make whiskey and bourbon at an Iowa distillery.
For years, they sold cereal rye to other farmers for seed. This year, for the first time, the father and son sold 1,000 bushels of cereal rye to Revelton Distilling Co. in Osceola, Iowa, shortly after harvest in mid-July. The transaction, Chris said, will ensure cover crops remain a profitable practice for the southwest Iowa row-crop operation near Corning.
Chris Gaesser visited Revelton in early September to make sure the farm's cereal rye quality was sufficient to make high-quality bourbon and whiskey. A taste test provided that answer, along with an agreement to sell the distillery 9,000 bushels next year, which will meet all its rye needs.
"I got to taste a little bit of Shine (a white whiskey) straight out of the still and it was good," Chris Gaesser said.
Revelton President and Primary Distiller Rob Taylor said buying cereal rye from a local farm is a win for everyone. Due to Taylor's personal relationship with the Gaessers, he's confident the grain will make tasty spirits because he knows it's properly grown, cleaned and stored. Plus, paying a farmer for a cover crop encourages more to be planted, which helps the environment.
"The Gaessers are incredible conservationists," Taylor said. "Iowa farmers get paid a premium price (for cereal rye), but we still have to be concerned about our price structure. We have a great symbiotic relationship."
Revelton paid the Gaessers $12.50 per bushel for rye this year. Next year's price is expected to increase to $14 to $15 per bushel, pending market value.
The Gaessers have planted cover crops since 2010 -- about 3,500 acres of cereal rye last year or 65% of the farm's total acreage -- to improve soil health and resiliency and prevent erosion. As a result, Chris said fieldwork can resume at least a day faster after a big rain in cover crop fields than non-cover crop acres. The practice protects valuable topsoil and soil tests show organic matter has increased 0.5% in the last seven years. Cover crops have contributed to corn and soybean yield increases of 5 to 10 bushels per acre (bpa), he asserted.
Making cover crops profitable was also a goal. The family did so through increased crop yields, lowering herbicide expenditures due to weed suppression benefits, growing and cleaning their own seed to lower costs and selling cereal rye for seed (a minimum of 1,000 bushels per year) and now to Revelton.
Chris Gaesser estimates it costs $15 to $17 per acre to broadcast seed cereal rye cover crops after corn and soybean are harvested. Broadcast-seeded cover crops won't be harvested for seed and terminated in the spring.
It costs about $30 per acre to plant cereal rye that will be harvested for seed, Chris estimates. The higher production cost is due to cereal rye being drilled, not broadcast seeded, and 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre is applied to boost yields.
This year, the Gaessers harvested 100 acres of cereal rye, averaging 63 bpa; 45 to 60 bpa is common, Chris said. Next year, with the Revelton contract, they plan to harvest 400 acres. The family keeps between 3,000 to 3,500 bushels for their own use and they sell the rest.
The Gaessers sold cereal rye seed this year for $12 per bushel, though in the past prices ranged from $9 to $16 per bushel.
Profits for harvested cereal rye average $200 per acre, Chris Gaesser estimates. For non-harvested cover crop acres, he said soil health and agronomic benefits usually more than pays for the practice.
"There's a lot of tertiary benefits to cover crops, but early on we knew we needed to find a way to make them work (financially)," Chris said. "If you want to make something work, and you're creative enough, you'll find ways to do it."
The author Matthew Wilde can be reached at email@example.com
Virginia farmers considering planting rye as a cover crop can find out if the conservation practice pays by utilizing the Cover Crop Net Return Economic Simulator developed by the Iowa Soybean Association. To learn more go to these links for an Article on Cover Crop Economics and the Cover Crops Economic Simulation Calculator.
From Three Crosses Distillery, Powhatan, VA:
"We are very proud and excited to announce that we have been named the 2023 Virginia Flavored Whiskey Distillery of the Year at the New York International Spirits Competition!! In a competition that included over 1,400 spirits from 39 countries, we were anchored by our Noble Hound Dark Rye, which won a Gold with a score of 95! Thank you to everyone who has helped us get to where we are. Cheers!!"
Four "Virginia Rye Whiskey Trail" Distilleries won Best in Virginia honors from Virginia Living magazine; Cape Charles Distillery, Filibuster Distillery, Twin Creeks Distillery, and Five Mile Distillery.
That makes 4 out of 5 regions going to Virginia Rye producing distillers.
Congratulations to all the winners and thanks for all the Virginia LOVE from their customers!
Best of Virginia has been the guide to the finest places to eat, shop, work, and play in the Commonwealth. In January they asked Virginia Living readers, for their "bests" in 104 different categories across the five regions of Virginia—Central, Eastern, Northern, Shenandoah Valley, and the Southwest.
Five years ago there were 6 VA Rye producers, No. 27 just hit the Virginia Rye Whiskey Trail. Highlands Distilling Company in beautiful Marion, Virginia is the newest stop. Another great reason to head to Southwest VA. https://www.highlandsdistillingco.com/
Deep Creek Distilling swings for the fences with it's Royall Double Oaked Virginia Rye Whiskey and scores BIG! In the 2023 East Coast Craft Spirits Awards they took home Best in Class Rye, Gold, and People's Choice Best Rye. Congratulations!
This homegrown drink recipe is simply refreshing, and leaves you with a taste of summer any time of the year. Have a "Virginia Peach" or two.
• 2 oz. of Virginia Rye Whiskey
(Peg Hatcher's Straight Rye from Twin Creeks Distillery in Rocky Mount, VA)
• 1 oz. of Peach Simple Syrup
(Peach Hibiscus from Crescent Simples in Richmond, VA)
• Fresh Mint
• Large Pinch of Sugar
• A Dash of Orange Bitters
• Crushed Ice
- Chill a martini glass and crush some ice
- Muddle mint sprigs with a generous pinch of sugar in a shaker, save a sprig to garnish
- Add 2 oz. of rye whiskey, 1 oz. of peach simple syrup, and a generous dash or two of orange bitters to shaker
- Add crushed ice to shaker, shake vigorously, strain into the chilled martini glass
- Rub reserved sprig of mint around the glass rim, place on drink
- Sip and enjoy!
In the early 1800's the term "Kentucky Bourbon" began appearing in advertisements. This was just a few years after George Washington opened the nation's largest commercial whiskey distillery at Mt. Vernon, Virginia (producing Rye).
The "Virginia Rye" designation started to reappear after decades of absence when in the early 2000's Virginia distillers like Copper Fox, Reservoir, and Catoctin Creek began producing and promoting it.
In 2007 George's original distillery was reconstructed at Mt. Vernon, and group of master distillers that included Dave Pickerell, Jimmy Russel, Joe Dangler, and others began production of the original 1797 recipe created by Washington's farm manager James Anderson. 60% rye, 35% corn, and 5% malted barley.
Over the past five years the number of Virginia Rye Whiskey producers has grown from a half-dozen to twenty-six. In just the past decade five brands have been awarded the prestigious Double-Gold in San Francisco.
Do you think "Virginia Rye" will be well recognized 200 years from now?
This 90 proof small batch double-oaked Rye is made by co-master distillers Royall Ferguson and David Emmons in Chesapeake, Virginia at Deep Creek Distilling.
Learn what gives the folks at Reservoir Distillery in Richmond, VA that little something extra on their journey to producing great American whiskies.
From Megan & Bill, the co-founders of Crescent Simples in Richmond, Virginia comes this Virginia take on the American Trilogy cocktail.
1.5 oz. of Reservoir Virginia Rye Whiskey
0.5 oz. of Laird's Virginia Apple Brandy
0.5 oz. of Crescent Simples Apple Spice simple syrup
3 dashes of your favorites bitters (maybe even those from Virginia's own Red Root & Company)
Each one of Crescent Simples syrups is made and bottled by hand using only real, fresh fruit and herbs, raw sugar and no preservatives.
RY3 Virginia Rye Whiskey takes home Best of Show in the Rye category at the 2023 New Orleans Bourbon Festival. Also wins Silver overall. Congratulations!
Article from Food and Beverage magazine:
Phenomenal Spirits is proud to announce its RY3 Whiskey Cask Strength Toasted Barrel expression, was awarded several impressive awards at the 2023 New Orleans Bourbon Festival. RY3 Toasted Barrel took home second place, Silver in the “BEST IN FEST” category, first place Gold in the “RYE WHISKEY” category, and second place, Silver in the “BEST CASK STRENGTH” category. The festival held March 22 – 25, celebrates the city’s historic relationship to Bourbon and culture and included many of the country’s finest distillers.
In addition, RY3 Toasted Barrel was awarded an impressive 90 points at the 2023 IWSC International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) held in London. Karthik Sudhir, Founder & CEO of Phenomenal Spirits commented, “Ry3 Whiskey is known for product innovation, stunning packaging and exceptional quality liquid. We are thrilled to be acknowledged and awarded by the industry’s prestigious New Orleans Bourbon Festival and IWSC.”
Rye Whiskey Toasted Barrel is an exquisite blend of hand-selected whiskies which is further finished in toasted barrels. The finishing period in the toasted barrels accentuates the complexity of the whiskey by adding notes of vanilla, cocoa and brown sugar that soothe the spice.
Sudhir added, “Craft whiskey consumers are embracing rye whiskey. America’s original iconic spirit volumes are skyrocketing. With the resurgence of the category, product innovation has reached new heights, spurring consumer’s curiosity. We developed RY3 Whiskey Toasted Barrel with these curious and passionate consumers in mind. RY3 Toasted Barrel is an exceptional Rye whisky finished in toasted casks, offering drinkers layers of intense spice and complexity for an exceptional and exciting, new Rye drinking experience.”
Phenomenal Spirits is on a steadfast mission to create exceptionally high-quality brands that fill untapped opportunities in the spirits category. To help guide this mission, Sudhir is partnering with Matt Witzig, Master Distiller and Co-founder of Joseph Magnus Bourbon. An icon in spirits distillation, Witzig is working in concert with Sudhir and his team to build a portfolio of unparalleled brands for the curious spirits consumer and aficionado alike.
From Imbibe magazine, by Paul Clarke
When Scott and Becky Harris were scoping out plans for their Virginia distillery, Catoctin Creek, prior to its 2009 debut, they turned to the history books to help determine what spirits they planned to make. “If you look at Colonial times, rye was the partner crop to tobacco, which was something that was very prevalent here. Rye was the cover crop that would replenish the soil,” says Becky Harris. “And [rye whiskey] was mostly made by women, because the men were in the fields tending tobacco. We liked the story, and we really just liked the flavor.” Scott Harris agrees. “We loved that history. Rye was Virginia’s native spirit since we started calling this place Virginia, and it all sort of fit together. We love the flavor, we love the history, and that’s why we developed our rye.”
Roundstone Rye became the flagship spirit for Catoctin Creek, but in 2009, rye’s modern story was still taking shape. Although rye was the dominant style of American whiskey in the 18th and 19th centuries, Prohibition and its aftershocks in the liquor industry nearly doomed American rye to extinction. The craft-cocktail renaissance boosted rye’s outlook starting around the beginning of the new millennium. But by that point, most rye whiskies available in the U.S. were produced in a style and with a recipe almost identical to bourbon.
But around the same time that Scott and Becky Harris were beginning their rye production at Catoctin Creek, similar stories were starting to unfold at distilleries across the country. While the tally of whiskey producers in the U.S. hovered at fewer than 20 distilleries (mostly enormous, and mostly in Kentucky and Tennessee) at the beginning of the millennium, the first years of the 21st century saw states changing their laws to open the doors to craft distilling. As the numbers of producers grew, and their geographic range spread, many started reconsidering the notion of what rye whiskey was supposed to be.
“I used to tell people in 2012 and 2013, ‘When y’all start getting whiskeys that are grain-to-glass from different parts of the country, you’re gonna find that they taste different—and that rye is just as interesting as bourbon and single malt,’“says Becky Harris. “It was so monolithic for so long, where everything was coming from, that people just started to say, ‘This is what rye tastes like.’ But you taste some of the stuff that [craft distillers] are making today, it’s all different, and that’s what’s exciting. I think rye was underappreciated for its diversity of flavor and interest.”
There are many elements that go into making whiskey, and into making different whiskies taste—well, different. And while all of these elements have come into play in rye’s modern age, with producers using different mash bill recipes and approaches to fermentation, distillation, and aging, another intriguing variable has increasingly come into play.
Rye, as a grain, has existed as a cereal crop for millennia and has been grown as a food crop and a cover crop in a variety of climates. Over time, different varietals of the grain were prized and cultivated. But as agriculture became industrialized and concentrated in the 20th century, the genetic diversity of all types of grains and produce frequently withered. And heirloom varieties were replaced by styles that may have offered less flavor, but that functioned better under mechanized production and in the global market.
As with many small farmers and food producers today, craft distillers have a skeptical perspective of this approach. “Rye is such an expressive plant,” says Todd Leopold, distiller and co-founder of Leopold Bros. Distillery in Denver. “Having worked with both modern and heirloom varieties of rye, they’re night and day—they’re completely different with the aromas and flavors you get out of it.”
When selecting a rye for his whiskey, Leopold turned to an heirloom Roman varietal called Abruzzi. “It was bragged about in the 1800s, in particular by Maryland distillers,” Leopold says. “I found some old Maryland agricultural records discussing it, and how the Maryland distillers preferred it, while the Pennsylvania distillers back then used Rosen rye, another variety that was kind of distinctive.”
“If you look back more than 100 years ago, Rosen rye was something that people put forward in their [whiskey] marketing,” says Clay Risen, a whiskey writer and author of American Rye. Risen notes that today, distillers such as Dad’s Hat and Wigle Distilling in Pennsylvania are turning their attention again to Rosen rye, and the flavorful qualities it can contribute to whiskey.
There’s a similar story unfolding in Michigan, where Mammoth Distilling worked with the National Park Service and Michigan State University to plant Rosen rye on South Manitou Island in 2020. This effort helped revive a varietal once prominent in Michigan, but that had faded from use by the 1970s. “It’s cool to think that there’s this identification of varietal, and this sort of zeroing in on terroir, and it’s something that we think of as a modern thing. But at least with this rye, people were talking in these terms 100 years ago.”
These explorations are taking place at distilleries around the country. In South Carolina, High Wire Distilling is moving in a similar direction to Leopold, making a boldly flavored and elegantly aromatic whiskey using Abruzzi rye. Far North Spirits, in Hallock, Minnesota, received a crop research grant in 2015 from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for a multiyear study to evaluate winter rye for distilling, and went on to cultivate and distill 15 varieties of rye. New Riff Distilling, in Newport, Kentucky, worked with Indiana farmer Charles Fogg to start distilling spirits from Balboa rye, a hybrid of Abruzzi that produces an expressively flavorful whiskey.
Brooklyn-based New York Distilling worked with Cornell University’s School of Agriculture and organic farmer Rick Pedersen to identify a historical hybrid called Horton (which, ironically, traces its origins to the region near the Westchester County town of Rye). Starting with only a spoonful of seeds, Pedersen began planting Horton rye and saving the seeds for the following season. After eventually expanding plantings to 40 to 50 acres, there was finally enough grain to begin distilling. This fall, New York Distilling plans to introduce its first bottling of Horton rye whiskey.
At Catoctin Creek, Scott and Becky Harris work with several farmers in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Most of their rye comes from a grower in Rappahannock County who’ll plant test plots of different varieties to see what grows best. At the distillery, Becky Harris will then take the different grains, see how they work when distilled in a test run, and balance out the mash bills to keep the overall profile consistent. “It’s a nice partnership, you know,” says Scott Harris. “If something works for him, and it tastes good for us and adds to the flavor profile we’re looking for, then he’ll grow it and we’ll use it.”
With rye’s revival still taking shape, it’s premature to predict how these experiments will play out in the long run. But with distillers, farmers, and agricultural scientists working together to explore rye’s history, it seems certain that its future will take shape in interesting ways. “This all gives historical weight to this kind of experimentation that you don’t really find with bourbon,” Risen says. “I think there are ways to talk about varietals and maybe terroir with bourbon, and there are people doing it. But I think rye just lends itself to this in a way. In a very short time, there’s been an explosion of diversity in so many ways. It’s just been fascinating.”
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/
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.
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!
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:
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.
Stories about Virginia Rye Whiskey, its makers and supporting organizations and individuals. as well as related distilled spirits industry news.
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