Ready to explore the birthplace of Country music or enjoy a spectacular drive along the Blue Ridge Trail, all while popping into some of Virginia’s best craft distilleries? We’ve done the hard work for you— here’s your guide to a spirited adventure in Southwest Virginia.
Scroll for a complete list of distilleries to visit (itinerary included) and recommendations on lodging, food and activities to enhance your stay. Your next adventure with #VaSpirits will be one to remember.
Everything we mention below is conveniently mapped out here.
While neighboring Franklin County may have the reputation of the “Moonshine Capital of the World,” it’s a little-known fact that more moonshine was made in Floyd County, situated in the heart of Southwest Virginia. That is nowhere truer than right in the town of Floyd, where many of the houses lining the quaint streets were built with the spoils of “secret” moonshine production.
Situated mostly along US 81, Southwestern Virginia boasts nine craft distilleries offering unique experiences and handcrafted spirits for every palate.
5 Mile Mountain Distillery
Housed in the original Floyd County Public School Authority building, 5 Mile Mountain Distillery was the town’s first distillery since prohibition. They use the same old recipes with traditional copper stills on open flames. Handcrafted batches of whiskey are intentionally kept small, with careful attention to detail. Here, they’re bottling up the love, history and distinctive taste of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- 489 Floyd Hwy. S., Floyd, VA 24901
- (540) 745-4495
Appalachian Heritage Distillery
From award-winning vodka to gin, bourbon and rye, Appalachian Heritage Distillery produces something for every palate right in the picturesque downtown Damascus, VA, directly on the Appalachian Trail. Generational family knowledge stems from a region steeped in cultural tradition. The unique design of the elegant and productive pot still forces a multiple distilled spirit with smooth yet robust flavor perfect for every gathering.
- 110 W. Laurel Ave., Damascus, VA 24236
- (276) 475-7150
Axe Handle Distilling
So, you want to build a log cabin but don’t know where to start? Ask the folks at Axe Handle Distilling. Nestled deep in Appalachia near the Kentucky border, Axe Handle’s distillery and tasting room sits next to the family’s other business: custom log cabin construction. So, after forty years of manufacturing and building hand hewn, Appalachian style, log homes, we understand that a hands-on approach may not be the fastest way to do things– but it is often the best. Chisels, drawing knives and axes are the tools we use to create our homes. And in the distillery, we swap these with the traditions of grains, limestone water and oak barrels. No matter what the job is for the day, we always keep an eye to the past.
- 42236 Wilderness Rd., Pennington Gap, VA 24277
- (276) 318-6162
Highlands Distilling Company
The Blue Ridge Highlands of Southwest Virginia has been the epicenter of the spirits trade for over 200 years. The Scots and Irish plied their trade illegally, under the cover of night. Pursued relentlessly by the “Revenuers”, the cat and mouse game continues to this day. We aim to keep this tradition alive for you to experience, albeit “legally.” We distill, bottle and age handcrafted, small-batch products including moonshine, whisky, bourbon and gin. All of our products celebrate our local heritage.
- 1200 VA-16, Marion, VA 24354
- (276) 782-0932
Big Cedar Creek Distillery
A gathering place for weddings, events and general merriment, Big Cedar Creek Distilling is just one piece of the operations at Vincent’s Vineyards. Continuing the six generations of traditions of agriculture and hospitality, the GIlmer family took over operations here in 1992, starting by growing grapes for local wineries and raising livestock. The family now creates hand-crafted moonshine from recipes handed down over generations.
- 2313 E. Main St., Lebanon, VA 24266
- (276) 202-6781
Creek Bottom Brewing
Like so many craft beverage producers, it all started as a hobby for the founders at Creek Bottom. A passion for craft beer soon led to the production of distilled spirits. And now, when you visit you can enjoy great food and entertainment at their house pub.
- 307 N. Meadow St., Galax, VA 24333
- (276) 236-2337
J.H. Bards Spirit Company
What do you get when two friends with the same name start a whiskey club? A new distillery, of course! When Jayson Hudson and Jason Hardy, both natives of Blacksburg, VA, moved home to the New River Valley region of Virginia in 2016, they started a local whiskey club called the Bourbon and Rye Drinking Society, or BARDS. Over the next several months, they had many whiskey-infused conversations about how great it would be to start their own distillery and bring their vision of good whiskey to the area. From these conversations, J.H. BARDS Spirit Co. was born.
- 6580 Valley Center Dr., Bay 175, Fairlawn, VA 24141
- (540) 952-9658
Salty Stash Distillery
Salty Stash was built from a family tradition of farming, hard work and learning new crafts. Over a decade in quality wine production set the stage with the delicate fermentation of fruit juice, the cornerstone for quality brandy. Once a bank, and later a physician’s office, your visual journey through the distillery will be as memorable as the quality spirits you taste.
- 4655 Cleburne Blvd., Dublin, VA 24084
- (540) 320-0203
While there are great local spots spanning the southwest region, we have a few suggestions to get you started.
Want to go where the locals eat? Check out Damascus Diner in, you guessed it, Damascus, VA!
Craving something sweet or a morning breakfast pastry? Everyone in Bristol will point you to Blackbird Bakery.
With a reputation spanning far and wide and described as a “folk art masterpiece,” Cuz’s Uptown BBQ is located in Pounding Mill – about an hour north of Bristol on Route 19/460. Open seasonally, so check the website before you go!
For more ideas as you traverse along, visit here.
Once you’ve filled up at the Damascus Diner, just head back to your room at the Dragonfly Inn, located on the same property.
Paying homage to Bristol’s claim as the birthplace of Country Music, The Sessions Hotel pieces together a historic grocery building, granary mill and candy factory for a truly unique experience and look into the region’s place in music history. Theme rooms and music memorabilia will have you tapping your feet in no time.
In a city straddling two Southern states, The Bristol Hotel does them both proud— serving up barrel-aged whiskeys and Virginia regional fare in a hotel turned office building turned hotel again.
Known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountains and boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Get more info at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center.
Are you a country music fan? Check out The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum that honors Bristol’s musical roots. The museum tells the story of the historic 1927 Bristol Sessions, explores how evolving technology shaped its success and highlights how this rich musical heritage lives on in today’s music. You can also catch live performances almost every night at small venues up and down State Street.
Featuring a landscape dappled with mammoth swaths of wilderness, laced with free-flowing rivers and crowned by high peaks— including the loftiest summit in the state, 5,728-foot Mount Rogers— Southwest Virginia is like no place else in the state. For outdoor lovers, this ruggedly wild corner of the state is not to be missed, but the bounty of recreational opportunities can be overwhelming. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
For more guides and resources, head to VisitSWVA.org.