Virginia is still quite young in its distilling efforts compared to many other parts of the world, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t produced some world-class products. There are more than 25 distilleries that offer tours around the Commonwealth, and with relaxed tasting laws and renewed interest in local spirits, that number will almost certainly continue going up. Learn about the history of the distilling process, tour the grounds, and sample some of the resulting spirits when you visit one of these eight Virginia distilleries.
VIRGINIA DISTILLERY COMPANY—LOVINGSTON
Photo Credit Tom Daly
Opened in 2011, Virginia Distillery Company began as a passion project for native Irishman Dr. George Moore, who wanted to bring the secrets of Irish distilling to Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Today, his son, Gareth Moore, helms the venture, producing Single Malt Whisky as well as cask-finished Virginia-Highland Whisky. The newly opened Visitors Center is all about old-world luxury; the exterior looks more like an elegant Virginia farmhouse than a business, and leather chairs arranged around the stone fireplace inside provide a comfortable place to sip on smooth whisky. Head to the bar to taste a few of their specialty seasonal cocktails, made using products sourced from local farmers and businesses, then take a tour of the facility to learn about the origins of Single Malt Whisky and how it is made.
Although the vodka has been in production since 2004, Cirrus Vodka only recently opened their Richmond tasting room, allowing visitors to taste the namesake product that has won numerous medals in prestigious competitions. A tour of the facility gives you an up-close look at their state-of-the-art steel and copper still, and after you’ve seen how they make it, head back out to the tasting room where professional bartenders will whip up a few craft cocktail examples using the potato-based vodka. The Cirrus Vodka tasting room is conveniently located, just around the corner from Richmond staples like Buzz & Ned’s and Hardywood Brewery.
GEORGE WASHINGTON’S DISTILLERY & GRISTMILL—MOUNT VERNON
Located on the Mount Vernon estate, George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill sat vacant for almost 200 years, but with a renewed interest in the art of distilling, the property was able to reconstruct the original site and produce spirits once again. The historic location is the only North American distillery that demonstrates 18th century techniques for distilling, showing visitors the entire process from the grains to the barrel. Period interpreters bring the distillery to life with guided tours, highlighting Washington’s vision for America’s future in the world of distilling.
BONDURANT BROTHERS DISTILLERY—CHASE CITY
During Prohibition, the Bondurant Brothers were notorious moonshine runners in Franklin County, Virginia, with their feats immortalized in the 2012 Hollywood film “Lawless”. Eighty years later, the grandson of Jack Bondurant took over the family business in a legal capacity, opening Bondurant Brothers Distillery to allow outsiders to taste what made his grandfather’s moonshine so timeless. Learn about how moonshine is made, hear the legendary story of the Bondurant Brothers, and taste some of their famous moonshine when you visit the Chase City distillery.
COPPER FOX DISTILLERY—SPERRYVILLE
Copper Fox Distillery opened in Sperryville in January 2005, followed by a second Williamsburg location that opened in 2016. The distillery is primarily known for their small batch whisky, but they also produce gin and a few other specialty whisky products. They are open daily, with free tours of the property available on the half hour during business hours, and tastings consist of your choice of four products for a small fee.
DAVIS VALLEY DISTILLERY—RURAL RETREAT
A small-batch distillery in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, Davis Valley Distillery uses locally-grown grains and fruits in their process, producing an array of spirits including vodka, moonshine, and whisky. Their fruit moonshines provide a taste of the South, with flavors like apple pie, cherry, peach, and strawberry. The distillery is the second business for the owners of Davis Valley Winery and Vineyard, located just next door, so you can tour and taste both in a single day.
CHESAPEAKE BAY DISTILLERY—VIRGINIA BEACH
Photo Credit David Uhrin, Courtesy of Coastal Virginia Magazine
Opened in 2005, Chesapeake Bay Distillery creates rum and vodka products, like their spicy Ghost Pepper Vodka. The combined distillery and tasting room is just a few blocks from the oceanfront in the ViBe Creative District of Virginia Beach, with tons of restaurants and shops within walking distance. The tasting room is open select hours Wednesday through Sunday, and visit the distillery on Saturdays between 12pm and 4pm for a tour that will teach you how their spirits are made.
A. SMITH BOWMAN DISTILLERY—FREDERICKSBURG
From still to bottle, A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg walks you through the barrel-aging bourbon process. In addition to a spirits museum, the distillery offer complimentary tours on the hour and are open Monday through Saturday. During your tour, you’ll learn all about A. Smith Bowman, a farmer in the 1930s that decided to use excess grains to start a distillery after Prohibition was repealed. His family has continued the tradition over several generations, and the results speak for themselves, with Whisky Magazine naming two of their products as the best bourbons in the world.
Looking for more distilleries to visit in Virginia? Find tasting rooms in every corner of the state that produce whisky, vodka, gin, and more.