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.
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!
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."
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.
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.
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.
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)
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/
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 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.)
No. 2 in the "Virginia is for Rye Lovers" series. The Rigglemans at Silverback Distillery know how to make a great Virginia Rye and share a fun experience when you stop by. Get to know all the wonderful distillers on the Virginia Rye Trail.
From our friends at Reservoir Distillery in Richmond, VA.
Reservoir’s Cask Experience. A very limited release and special collaboration with renowned French cognac maker Francois Voyer, a wheated Virginia Rye Whiskey finished in cognac cask, 86 proof.
NEWS from Phenomenal Spirits, Virginia Beach, VA: "First barrel pick of the year heading to beautiful Australia and we couldn’t be more excited. At 58.9% ABV, this handcrafted, blended and rum cask finished Ry3 Whiskey is bottled at Cask Strength."
RY3 continues to expand their unique blended Virginia Rye across the globe. Learn more by visiting: https://www.ry3whiskey.com/
The first in a series of ads promoting the Virginia Rye Trail.
Stories about Virginia Rye Whiskey, its makers and supporting organizations and individuals. as well as related distilled spirits industry news.