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Catoctin Creek Distilling, Loudon, VA


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I wanted to share this episode of MyJoogTV featuring Andrew McKnight and distiller Scott Harris of Catoctin Creek Distilling Company. We discussed the distillation process for organic rye whiskey, social media, government regulation of spirits, and how McKnight and the Harris' are kindred spirits regarding the eat, drink, and play music locally. The Roundstone Rye we sampled was excellent, lighter than many bourbons, but flavorful and completely smooth at the tail. The highlight of the afternoon was listening to McKnight perform "Letter to Colonel Mosby" while sitting on an oak barrel in front of the still. At wine-compass.com, we are followers of "Free the Grapes, now its time to Free the Shine.

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I have to admit - I'm a fan of their gin! And their rye, if I remember correctly, is what Amy uses at Eventide in her "Clearly Not a Manhattan". Mmmmmm.

I have 95% of a bottle of their rye that I'll sell for 50% of what I paid for it.

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I have 95% of a bottle of their rye that I'll sell for 50% of what I paid for it.

God love these folks at Catoctin, but I find their products too expensive for what they are, so poor value. I wish them well, and I'm happy to order bottles for customers, but I just cannot work up enthusiasm for them. Hope they prove me wrong some day.

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God love these folks at Catoctin, but I find their products too expensive for what they are, so poor value. I wish them well, and I'm happy to order bottles for customers, but I just cannot work up enthusiasm for them. Hope they prove me wrong some day.

Exactly my thoughts after having a "tour" and tasting on Saturday. At 39 bucks a bottle for OK gin and light rye (aged about 7 months), I just couldn't bring myself to buy a bottle as I had planned. I'm fine paying a premium for locally-produced products from small companies, but I just couldn't justify the money.

I thought the White Whisky was interesting, but the lady leading the tasting said it could be used instead of vodka because it's a "neutral spirit." Let's just say, there's no way in hell this is a neutral spirit. It's quite tasty, but not neutral. Actually, I think I liked this product most, of the three that we tried, but I did't buy any.

I'm still bothered by something the "assistant distiller" who led out tour said. I asked if the fermentation vats, really just plastic barrels, were closed or open . I was curious because they have the barrels in a "fermentation tent" so I couldn't see what was going on in there. He said they were closed fermentation vessels because if they were open to the atmosphere, then all the alcohol would evaporate and they'd have nothing to distill!!! I was flabbergasted. I had other questions about the yeast and fermentation temps, but I figured if he knew so little about the process, it wasn't worth asking him follow ups. Perhaps the German, British and Belgian beers brewed in open fermentation vessels would have a higher ABV% if they used a closed system:-)

I'm curious to know from all you more knowledgeable people whether it's common for distilleries to use flour, rather than cracked grains. I can see the advantages (can store more per square foot, sugars are fully exposed for saccharification) but it seems like it'd be more expensive and more messy. They don't filter at all before fermentation, which I'd never thought about, but I guess it's not really necessary since they're distilling and will get a clear product no matter what the original solution looks like. I've never toured a distillery, so this was interesting to me. I just assumed the grains were removed before fermentation like beer.

I think it's clever that they (and I'm sure they're not the first ones to think of this) use the methanol distilled in the heads to sanitize and clean the equipment. The extra they sell to a fuel supplier.

Overall, I enjoyed seeing the operation and I'm glad I went. I don't have a need to do it again with company, though, like I used to do with Old Dominion Brewing. Tour and tasting costs $9, by the way.

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Exactly my thoughts after having a "tour" and tasting on Saturday. At 39 bucks a bottle for OK gin and light rye (aged about 7 months), I just couldn't bring myself to buy a bottle as I had planned. I'm fine paying a premium for locally-produced products from small companies, but I just couldn't justify the money.

I've been told that the bottle prices are actually cheaper if you buy through nearby retailers, fyi. Which is unfortunate if it's true.

The gin came highly recommended to me. I'll be doing the tour and tasting in May I believe and am looking forward to it. I've done tastings at distilleries before, but never a tour. Am hopeful I will learn a good bit.

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I had a Gibson with 3-1 Catoctin to Dolin Blanc, stirred and poured into a chilled stem. Superb. Clean, refreshing and a little minty and allowed the doling to come thru. I drink a lot of martinis and this one was one of my favorites on a night where I didn't want to have a heavier gin experience {ie Old Raj, which is my favorite} I preferred it to Aviation for the application. But that is why there are shelves full of products.

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DrXmus,

Don't be too hard on Greg, our assistant distiller. He only started in March, and has been learning a lot, very quickly. The boy is a volunteer fireman who has no previous knowledge of fermentation, distillation, etc. I think he's doing amazingly well for a newbie.

Of course, to correct his error, the fermentation locks are to allow CO2 to escape without the intrusion of O2 in the mash. As for the shiny tent, there's nothing secret in there, just fermenting mash. But with hundreds of Living Social people in the distillery on Saturday, we just can't manage a better tour.

If you come out during the week, we are happy to show you a more prolonged tour, including inspection of the fermenting mash inside the tent (which we use for cooling), and a lot more in-depth detail on distillation and such.

Anyhow, our whisky is not for everybody, but we are very proud of what we have produced. We have whiskey and spirits that pay homage to the historical spirits of Virginia. They taste great, and many people enjoy them quite a lot. That's all we hope for.

Do come out for another tour sometime, and I hope you'll enjoy yourself more when we have less crowds to deal with.

Scott

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I've been told that the bottle prices are actually cheaper if you buy through nearby retailers, fyi. Which is unfortunate if it's true.

Our bottle prices at the distillery are set by the Virginia ABC, so we have no control over that, I'm afraid. Our distillery store is, in fact, an ABC store which we run as agents of the ABC. The laws in Virginia are very strict for the sale of liquor. We are a few dollars cheaper in DC and MD.

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I'm heading there this weekend for a tour and tasting & am excited! I love their rye and can't wait to try their other offerings.

I like to help out local businesses as much as I can, even if it means paying a few extra dollars.

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Just to revive a long dead thread, I went to a Catoctin Creek tasting at Morton's in Richmond last night. Scott Harris was presenting four spirits and gave a little background on each one, as well as the distillery in general. I don't know if he does these road shows a lot, but I found it very informative a great introduction to the brand. He brought the Watershed Gin, Roundstone Rye, Mosby's Spirit, and 1757 Brandy. I'm not much of a brandy drinker, so it was a good opportunity to taste something I would usually ignore at the store. Now I might pick up a bottle just to have around the house in case of emergency. It's nice to have some house liquors distilled so close to home.

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I was going to revive the thread a few weeks ago, so thanks for reminding me. There was an article in the Post about Catoctin Creek's rye that said they use rye grain and age for 2 years. When I went on the tour last year, they were using rye flour and aging for 6 months. Time to try the rye again. I thought it was unexciting for the price last year.

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Just to revive a long dead thread, I went to a Catoctin Creek tasting at Morton's in Richmond last night. Scott Harris was presenting four spirits and gave a little background on each one, as well as the distillery in general. I don't know if he does these road shows a lot, but I found it very informative a great introduction to the brand. He brought the Watershed Gin, Roundstone Rye, Mosby's Spirit, and 1757 Brandy. I'm not much of a brandy drinker, so it was a good opportunity to taste something I would usually ignore at the store. Now I might pick up a bottle just to have around the house in case of emergency. It's nice to have some house liquors distilled so close to home.

I was just on the tour last weekend and all they had available was the peach brandy. The rye is tasty, but has a strong wood taste along with the spice, vanilla, and caramel.

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