Catoctin Creek Distillery
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 51,204
    My daughter and I visited the Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville Virginia. This is a very small (very old school) operation, ran only by Scott and his wife Becky (I quickly figured out that she is the brains behind the operation). They currently are in a 2000 square foot building, but are relocating to a larger place since they don’t have room to keep up with demand. They have “volunteers” come in on bottling days to help. Everything is bottled and labeled by hand (and the volunteers get to walk out with a bottle).
    Scott gave us a tour of the place, and I started asking questions. He asked if I had been involved with distilling before, I told him “not since college….” Once he found out I was a homebrewer he went into a whole lot more detail than he otherwise would.
    The only ingredient they use is organic rye. No added sugars or other grains. Part of the grist is unmalted rye, “to balance enzymes with gravity”. They have a very sexy stainless mash tun with an electric motor that keeps stirring everything constantly. They start out with a long protein rest, and ramp up the temperature. He said that they mash fairly high, but allow it to mash for 6.5 hours. No sparge. Since rye is what it is, and gums up in the mash (and they mash THICK) the entire mash is pumped into the fermenters, grain and all. Yeast is top cropped, and is very vigorous.
    They ferment for around five days. When it’s ready, the “beer” is pumped into the still, grain and all.
    Their still is just about the coolest thing I have ever seen. It’s a hybrid pot-column still custom made in Germany by Kothe.
    The “head” or the first stuff that boils off, is saved to use as a cleaner. (most just dump it, so kudos to them, they even sell it to a local brewery for cleaning purposes).
    The “body”, or the good stuff is of course what they are after, some they bottle right out of the still. This clear “white whiskey” is sold under the name “Mosby’s Spirit”. Most they age in white oak barrels from Minnesota, and is sold as “Roundstone Rye”.
    The “tails”, or the nasty stuff that come out last is allowed to cool, and is ran through again. This re-distilled liquid is made into gin.
    They also do some limited runs of brandy, but rye whiskey is the main product.
    The spent grain mash is given away to local farmers for livestock feed. The used barrels are sold to brewers. A guy from “Mud Hound Brewery” was there when I was, and took the last part of the tour with me. He is just opening up a brewpub in Leesburg Va., and was getting a couple barrels to do an oaked oatmeal stout for Christmas (I just may run down there to try it out).
    They also sell some barrels to a guy that makes maple syrup, and he ages the syrup in them. Cool that nothing goes to waste.

    After the tour we had a tasting, and sampled the white whiskey, the barrel aged whiskey and the gin.
    The white whiskey is very smooth (I expected it to be like swallowing five yards of barbedwire…. Boy was I wrong) the spiciness of the rye really comes through.
    The barrel aged whiskey is just plain wonderful. Very smooth, lots of oak flavor, very complex, and lacks that “grassy” taste a lot of ryes have. May be the best rye I have ever had. (yes I bought a bottle)
    The gin is awesome, and I don’t even like gin. They steep the botanicals, rather than running the steam through them, so the flavor is cleaner and more intense. I sniffed it…. Took a sip….. and asked “coriander?” The brewer looked at me and said “yeah, that’s what I’m picking up, couldn’t put my finger on it” It is the second largest botanical they use, after the juniper berries. Scott was a bit shocked that I identified his “secret” ingredient so quickly.
    They currently only sell to Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland and New York, but are expanding.
    This is a very high quality product, made the old fashioned way, by a couple who take great pride in what they do. Highly recommended. I just love businesses like this, and support them as much as I can. Reminds me very much of Huss and Dalton, who made my primary guitar, down in Staunton Virginia. This is the type of business that made our country strong, and make “corporate America” look bad, not only in that they make a better product, but by supporting their local community. Hats off to ‘em!
    Visit them on line at http://catoctincreekdistilling.com/
    Never attribute to malice, that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 51,204
    Some of the plastic fermenters in use. And barrels
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    Never attribute to malice, that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 51,204
    The nifty mash tun. The bucket on the floor is filled with top cropped yeast, ready to go into the fermenter after pumping in the mash
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    Never attribute to malice, that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 51,204
    The still. Becky walked into the frame as I took the pic.
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    Never attribute to malice, that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 51,204
    Pictures are from my phone, so they suck.
    Never attribute to malice, that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.
  • FuzzyFuzzy
    Posts: 47,315
    sounds like a fun trip. you might have to ship some booze out for the rest of us to try. :D
    "Oh, you were serious? I was drunk."-C_B
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    how much were the bottles?
  • frydogbrewsfrydogbrews
    Posts: 44,679
    looked it up. 40 bucks a bottles not bad at all for a fine rye.
    great accolades too:
    Gold Medal – Rye Whiskey
    – The Fifty Best, September 21, 2012

    Score: 88 "Wise beyond their age"
    – American Craft Spirits, September 22, 2010

    Score: 87 (Silver Medal - Highly Recommended) "Wild and wooly, but entertaining."
    – Beverage Testing Institute, February 24, 2011

    Score: 80 "Very Fresh, oily rye nose, bursts with rye spice fireworks."
    – Whisky Advocate, December 1, 2011
  • ceanntceannt
    Posts: 51,204
    Yeah .... price ain't bad at all ...
    They had awards all over the place in there.
    I don't let awards sway me .... I let my palette be the judge .... and this stuff is good
    Never attribute to malice, that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.