My past weekend ventures lead me to Catoctin Creek Distillery, a rye whiskey distillery set on the charming Main Street of Purcellville, VA. Founded in 2009 by Scott and Becky Harris, Catoctin Creek`s increasing popularity is no coincidence, given that it is the first legal distillery in Loudon County since before prohibition!
Walking in, we were immediately greeted by two well-dressed women behind the large open bar at the back of the room. Like most distilleries, you can taste and/or tour. Seeing the distilling room to the left through large windows, we decided to forego the tour and head straight to the tasting bar (priorities!).
The tasting room decor was minimal but ambient…hardwood floors, large open spaces, exposed ceiling beams and lighting that consisted of simple bulbs hanging from the ceiling at various lengths. Altogether, the location and design supported the theme: timeless charm without having to try too hard.
Customers may choose from a fairly wide range of cocktails – even a seasonal Pumpkin Gin Fizz – if whiskey on the rocks is not your thing. I have to admit that rye whiskey (or whisky?) is not on my list of favorites, due to the fact that it brings back some pretty bad college memories…so i chose to try a cocktail flight ($10) while my guy friend went straight for the standard flight ($5) of various whiskeys.
The cocktail flight is a “pick 3” from a list of about 10 different cocktails that use Catoctin rye, gin, and/or brandy. I settled on a Manhattan, something that tasted like a cold version of a hot-toddy, and a pear brandy concoction. YUM!
Purchasing a standard flight gets you a taste of Catoctin Mosby`s Spirit (unaged rye whiskey…aka “the clear stuff”), Roundstone Rye, and Pearousia (a fabulous pear brandy that`s actually a collaboration between Fabbioli Cellars and Catoctin). My friend`s least favorite was definitely the Mosby`s Spirit…he thinks that the lack of aging results in a lack of flavor. He liked the Roundstone Rye, but prefers a corn-based bourbon to any rye-based whiskey (he`s from Kentucky, of course). No comment from him on Pearousia…I think it was a little too sweet for his manly taste!
I think the flight prices were certainly reasonable for what we were served and I would recommend Catoctin Creek to anyone looking to increase their whiskey knowledge, or just enjoy a creative cocktail in a relaxed setting!