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Virginia-Made Products

Products made by distilleries of the Chesapeake

Distilleries of the Chesapeake

Bright sun, salty water, rich history and plentiful ingredients all contribute to the spirits being produced in Virginia’s Chesapeake region. Often referred to as the “Birthplace of American Distilling,” whiskey was first produced in this area as early as 1620. In the colonies, the craft of distilling was a way to turn excess grains such as Indian corn, yellow corn and wheat into a commodity. Fast forward nearly 400 years and you will find that each of these four distilleries presents a unique story to this industry. From colonial recipes to modern mechanization, from a new family business to a second distillery location, we hope you enjoy discovering the distilleries of the Chesapeake.

Chesapeake Bay Distillery

Chesapeake Bay Distillery
Chesapeake Bay Distillery
 

Founded in 2005, Chesapeake Bay Distillery’s mission is to create spirits of exceptional quality and provide remarkable value to their patrons. Operating just a seashells throw from the Virginia Beach oceanfront, Chris Richeson distills two vodkas, one rum and a lemon liqueur (distillery-only products). With a commitment to purity, Chris brings his knowledge of industrial automation and precision to the distillation process. Using both a pot still and a twenty-plate column still, all the “nasties” are removed from the spirit, leaving a clean, quality product that is easy to enjoy. You can find Chesapeake Bay Distillery products in their tasting room, which features a monthly cocktail menu, at Virginia ABC stores and online.

Pictured (above left): Distiller Chris Richeson

Ironclad Distillery

Ironclad Distillery
Ironclad Distillery
 

Going inland on the James River, we arrive at Ironclad Distillery in Newport News. Named after the first two Civil War era ships to be clad in iron—the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia—the distillery is located within view of the battle sight. Housed in the S.W. Holt & Co. building, a 1913 dry goods warehouse, Ironclad Distillery produces a fine small-batch Virginia bourbon. Bourbon is in the blood of the King family, who founded their business in 2015. Ironclad Bourbon is made from local Virginia corn, wheat and rye, along with malted barley, and aged in new, American oak charred barrels. It is characterized by the brackish air from Virginia’s James River. Each batch is double distilled in six 26-gallon stainless steel stills and generally aged for two summers. With plans for expansion, Ironclad hopes to soon have a tasting room open to the public. For now, you can find this small-batch handmade Virginia bourbon in Virginia ABC stores and online.

Pictured (above left): Distiller Owen King and Kara King, Creative Director

Copper Fox Distillery

Copper Fox Distillery
Copper Fox Distillery
 

The newest of the distilleries in this region is actually a second location for Copper Fox Distillery. Located in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg on what was formerly the Lord Paget Motor Lodge, this location plans to quadruple the production volume of their original Sperryville location. Each building on the property is designated for a specific purpose in the distilling process, including a malt house. Copper Fox is the only Virginia distillery that malts all of their own barley, which comes from Virginia farms. The hand-malted Virginia barley is the base grain used in all of the Copper Fox’s products, including a gin, an American rye whisky and a American single malt. Currently producing limited quantities of spirits at this location, their focus is primarily on renovating the property with great intention, and introducing customers to their hand-crafted malted barley offerings. Though the distillery is in the throws of renovations, Copper Fox Williamsburg is open for business, tastings and tours!

Pictured (above left): Scottish Master Distiller Andrew Shand and Karen Gattuso, Operations Manager

Williamsburg Distillery

Williamsburg Distillery
Williamsburg Distillery, corn
 

Williamsburg Distillery is located near the beautiful Colonial Williamsburg. They are committed to producing their spirits using colonial recipes and methods. They are the only distillery in the world to use Indian corn in their whiskey mashes and use it to make both their gin and their upcoming bourbon. Indian corn is more like a grain, less like a vegetable, and produces a sweeter spirit. Williamsburg Distillery offers two products currently: Jamestown Gin made from corn whiskey and Yorktown Rum made from organic molasses. With Williamsburg Bourbon coming soon on the horizon, they will complete their “Historic Triangle Series." Customers can visit their tasting room for the full experience and can find their products at select Virginia ABC stores.

Pictured (above left): Abigail Walker and Chuck Cholpson


Virginia Distillery

Visit Virginia Distilleries

Virginia ABC offers a selection of spirits from more than 25 Virginia distilleries. Visit Virginia distilleries and distillery stores for tours, tastings and select products.
Virginia distillers

Virginia-Made Bourbons

Three Virginia distilleries offer hand-crafted, small-batch bourbons: A. Smith Bowman (Fredericksburg), Ironclad (Newport News) and Reservoir (Richmond).
Wine cocktails

Virginia Wine Cocktails

Combine Virginia wine and spirits in fantastic cocktails! Try our featured recipe, the Stargazer, with Prince Michel Chardonnay and Mt. Defiance Dark Rum.
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Read it online or pick up a free copy at your local Virginia ABC store. View past issues.

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Sign up for the Spirited Virginia e-newsletter (at the bottom of our home page) to stay informed about the latest news about products.
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Tasting Events

View schedule. Approximately 250 tasting events are held each month at select store locations. As required by law, a person must be 21 years of age to participate in a tasting or to purchase alcoholic beverages.
Distillery Store

Distillery Stores

Some Virginia distilleries have met qualifications to offer their spirits for sale and offer tastings of their product. View list of current distillery stores.