Belmont Farm Distillery: Meet Virginia Makers

Authors: Chuck and Jeanette Miller, Master Distiller and Owners for Belmont Farm Distillery

Belmont Farm Distillery was the first craft whiskey distillery in Virginia and the United States. We were the first in Virginia to pass laws in our General Assembly to operate a distillery store and sell our spirits on our farm. We were also the first to introduce “farm to table” spirits.

Belmont Farm has been very innovative in the distilled spirits business, and we feel that our pioneering spirit set a path for others to follow.

With the help of Native Americans, James Thorpe from Jamestown made the first corn whiskey (moonshine) in 1612. One century later in 1789, Elijah Craig from Orange County, Virginia, was the first to age whiskey in barrels called bourbon. More recently in 1988, Chuck Miller and his Belmont Farm Distillery from Culpeper County became the first craft whiskey distillery in Virginia and the United States.

Even though it has been over 400 years since the first whiskey was produced in Virginia, we at Belmont Farm Distillery still use the same technology as our fore fathers. There are no modern column stills at Belmont. Our original pot still is a copper 3,000-gallon pot still made in 1933, right after Prohibition.

Most of our grain is grown onsite or sourced from local farmers. After harvest the corn, wheat, and barley is dried and stored in our grain bins for production of our whiskies. After malting and grinding, we cook one ton of grain with 1,000 gallons of our great limestone water (we were blessed with a 220-foot deep well, which extends into an endless deep cavern). Our mash is fermented three to four days, depending on the recipe. During distillation our whiskey vapors are redistilled in our 800 gallon copper doubler. All our whiskey is double distilled, and some even more. In addition, our aged whiskey is pumped into charred oak barrels and sent to one of our four barrel houses. Our fresh whiskey is pumped into our bottling room.

Although our bottling equipment is older (circa 1945; that’s when they knew how to build quality machinery), it gets the job done. Presently it runs about 20 BPM (bottles per minute), which enables us to run 1,000 cases per day. That is sufficient enough to fill a large order or a full container in short notice.

Today, our son-in-law Jay Durkee is the master distiller at Belmont. With his new spirit of ideas, we distill 17 different products. But it doesn’t end there.

Our pioneering spirit has caused us to push on where others dare to go. For instance, after almost 30 years, our Virginia Lightning Corn Whiskey products (the original, apple pie, cherry, peach and butterscotch) have withstood our competitors. They are still the number one moonshine products in Virginia.

Belmont Farm Distillery was the first to produce Virginia Whiskey, which is registered with the USPTA (Patent and Trademark). Virginia Whiskey was trademarked to protect whiskey made in Virginia, as was also done in Tennessee. Our distillery was also the first in Virginia to introduce “bonded” whiskey. This guarantees the consumer that the whiskey is produced onsite and not sourced.

Currently, Belmont Farm Distillery is Virginia’s largest producer of alcohol. Some of our contracts include Discovery Channel’s TV show “Moonshiners” with Tim Smith’s Climax Moonshine, Bear Claw, (Whiskey sold in China) and country singer Loretta Lynn’s Butcher Holler.

Not only have we shipped whiskey to China, but also to Holland, Germany and Japan. Today we are actively seeking other foreign markets.

Our newest product will be released this fall, Kopper Kettle Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey, at 92 proof. We also have other exciting spirits on the horizon.

To meet the demand of the future, Belmont Farm Distillery is in the process of installing a second distillery and bottling line. The new distillery will be complete with a 4,000-gallon pot still, condenser, and fermenter tanks.

We at Belmont Farm Distillery are committed to producing quality products. Our pioneering spirit continues to help us meet the demands of our growing consumer base. We are proud of our Virginia tradition and will continue to make Virginia first in the craft spirit world.

Tasting Notes:

Virginia Lightning:
Belmont Farm Distillery’s first original corn whiskey. Chuck used his grandfather’s original recipe; bottled at 100 proof, it packs quite a punch and can be calmed down by mixing in bloody Marys or with a twist of lime.

Virginia Lightning Apple Pie:
A favorite in Virginia. Corn whiskey, 70 proof, and real apple juice make a delightful drink especially when mixed with ginger ale.

Virginia Lightning Cherry:
WOW!! Those cherries.  At 50 proof this cherry can be mixed with almost anything and make sure you add the cherry, (e.g., Cherry Coke).

Virginia Lightning Peach:
70 proof, peaches, peaches, what a drink. Try some now!! Great with ice tea and a rocking chair.

Virginia Lightning Butterscotch:
If you love butterscotch, you will love Virginia Lightning Butterscotch also 70 proof.  Great in your coffee or a smoothie.

Climax:
Tim Smith’s Original recipe. At 90 proof it is distilled from corn, rye, malted barley and cane sugar.

Kopper Kettle Virginia Whiskey:
Mash bill is corn, wheat and barley. Aged with charred apple and oak wood for two months and then aged in oak barrels for four years. Bottled at 86 proof, what a delight over ice or neat.

Kopper Kettle Bonded Virginia Whiskey:
Bonded meaning 100 percent guaranteed to be made, and stored and aged in barrels on premises and bottled at 100 proof, not sourced like some do.

Kopper Kettle Apple Whiskey:
Our Virginia whiskey blended with real apple juice make a delightful fall drink. Can be mixed or had over ice or neat.

Kopper Kettle Dark Chai Spiced Rum:
A 96 proof hand-crafted rum made from a brown sugar mash, sweetened with molasses and adding an assortment of East Indies spices. The Chai Spice is a very popular taste in the USA.

Kopper Kettle Vodka:
Our vodka is 100% corn based, very smooth, and easy to drink. With our secret filtering system, you will not find a better vodka.

Kopper Kettle Golden Gin:
Our gin is aged in used oak whiskey barrels which give it a special floral tasting note. It is unlike any gin you have ever tasted!

Kopper Kettle Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey:
Tasting notes of cacao, vanilla and caramel. Handmade and farm to glass perfection!!!