'Farm-to-table' impacts the local spirits industry (WTOP's Rachel Nania)
WASHINGTON — On a typical Saturday, Scott Harris sees about 200 people come through the doors of his Loudoun County distillery. While there, visitors tour Harris’ whiskey production facility, then belly up to the tasting room bar for a flight of his signature spirits.
When Harris and his wife, Becky, opened Catoctin Creek Distillery in 2009 — after careers in engineering and government contract work — there were just a few other distilleries operating in Virginia.
“And now I think there are over 50, so it’s really, really taking off lately,” Harris said.
“We’ve seen, in the past decade or so, a real boom in craft beer, and in the local region, craft wine, and now finally distilling is also seeing that boom.”
Harris said just as consumers are more concerned with how their vegetables are grown or where their meat comes from, they’re also paying attention to what’s in their glass.
“I think people really want that connection to their food, and in beverages, I think it’s very similar,” he added.
Like wineries and breweries in the D.C. area, many distilleries offer tours, tastings and weekend events (think live music and food). Best of all, Harris says the spirits they’re pouring are pretty great.
“You’re getting a very high-quality spirit from these local providers because we focus on local production and artisan production,” Harris said about the area’s distillers.
“You get a real regional terroir, if you will, from the local product. So when you drink a Virginia rye whiskey like ours, it tastes different from a Kentucky rye whiskey, and that’s something special.”
With so many options to explore, Harris shared some of his favorite distilleries to visit in the D.C. area:
In Virginia, Harris recommends Copper Fox Distillery and KO Distilling. (And of course, he said don’t forget to stop in at Catoctin Creek, located in the heart of Purcellville.)