Another Shenandoh Side Trip: Copper Fox Distillery

Copper Fox Distillery, the “whiskey” part of the Blue Ridge Wine and Whiskey Loop, can’t be sandwiched between vineyard visits. It wouldn’t do it justice.

We started the day off at Copper Fox, which opens at 10:00—early for hard liquor, but since they can’t (by law) offer tastings we thought it made sense to kick things off here.

Located in Sperryville on River Lane, this distillery could easily have been plucked from an episode of Boardwalk Empire. It operates out of a rustic barn where almost everything is done without high-tech gadgets. The distilling process is done largely by hand, with care, appreciation, respect and love; the old fashioned way.

Passing through this door is akin to going back in time when you visit Copper Fox Distillery.
Passing through this door is akin to going back in time when you visit Copper Fox Distillery.

Upon entering the old wooden barn, we were warmly welcomed and told the next tour would start in 10 minutes. We were invited to sit down in a comfortable waiting area or take a peak in the gift shop. Since i noticed two cats in the waiting area, i was relegated to the gift shop. (I am deathly allergic to cats).

If you’ve been on one distillery or beer tour, you know they tend to follow a general pattern: harvest wheat and barley, malting, cooking, fermenting, distilling, bottling, labeling and BOOM you are done.

Barley
Wheat
Cooking
Cooking
Fermenting
Fermenting
Bottling
Bottling

This tour was not different as far as the order. What was unique was that our tour guide was an employee/investor. This is his “second career” and his passion for the whiskey and desire to share it comes through.

It’s important to note that Rick Wasmund, the proprietor, is doing something very different—like the pioneers, he’s blazing a trail while respecting to the old ways. These are distinct American whiskies with a unique taste. And how his whiskies get that unique taste has everything to do with the process he’s created. In fact, Copper Fox was the first distillery in North America, and remains one of the only ones to malt its own barley—a variety developed at Virginia Tech. They use a mix of roasted apple and cherry wood to smoke and flavor the malted barley.

The finished product!
The finished product!

My Dad is technically is a bourbon drinker but he would have enjoyed this tour. If you are in the area, i recommend a visit. Tours were free, and the store offers a discount. Not to mention, there are some fun gifts and stocking stuffers.

Author: Judi Kennedy

Wanderlust. A professional aunt, fitness enthusiast, dog owner and avid reader the rest of the time.

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