There’s something seductive about Virginia moonshine, the original American spirit.

Perhaps it’s the long history, dating back to just years after the First Landing of English settlers in Virginia. Maybe it’s the fact that people have taken up arms in defense and opposition to it. It might be that traditionally it was crafted and moved in secret through shadowy mountain hollers and swamps thick with marsh and cypress trees. Or maybe the vivid picture of bootleggers racing down backcountry roads (hello, Nascar!) at night to outmaneuver the authorities is what piques your interest. 

Either way, moonshine has a long and enduring life in Virginia. 

So much so that, during the 1920s, an estimated 99 of every 100 Franklin County residents were in some way involved in the lucrative moonshine trade, giving the area its beloved “Moonshine Capital of the World” distinction. Later this year, the Mountain Spirits Trail – linking Franklin, Floyd and Patrick County producers – will offer a chance to try some of the state’s best and learn the rich, untold history of moonshine. 

And while the tradition runs deep in the mountains, there are more than 15 moonshine producers spanning across the commonwealth. Keep reading to learn more about the process of making moonshine, where to find it, how to properly store it and how to best enjoy it. 

How to Make

The term “moonshine” has been around since at least the early 15th century, though it wasn’t popularized or used in English until Prohibition to describe illicit liquor made and smuggled during the night. There’s actually no legal definition of the spirit.

But, simply put, moonshine is considered a clear, unaged whiskey.

You might find a classic moonshine recipe involves cracked corn, water, malted barley and yeast. Much like whiskey, you can distill from almost any grain. The earliest American moonshiners used rye or barley, though for the last 150 years, corn has been the preferred base for many.

The process has been refined over time as producers look for efficiencies and ways to improve quality, but early moonshiners followed steps like this:

  1. The cracked, dry yellow corn is ground into meal.
  2. The corn meal is soaked in hot water. Sometimes sugar is added (or even used instead of grain), but traditional moonshiners added malted barley to convert starch to sugar. After adding yeast, the fermentation process begins. This mixture, called mash, is stirred thoroughly and heated for a set amount of time in the still. 
  3. The stone furnace beneath the still is brought up to about 172 degrees Fahrenheit. In the past, people used wood, coal and even steam before moving to propane.
  4. As pressure builds, the alcohol steam evaporates through a pipe that leads out of the top of the still.
  5. The distilled alcohol condenses in the bottom of a thump keg – a heated barrel into which the steam is forced and named after the sound of the vapor and alcohol periodically bursting out of the pipe. The hot vapor distills the alcohol a second time, which results in a higher-proof moonshine. 
  6. The steam travels into a coiled pipe that winds down into a crate or barrel (“worm box”) with cold water, usually diverted from a nearby creek or water source. By constantly circulating in cold water, the alcohol turns from steam to liquid.
  7. The moonshine exits from a spout, tap or hose into a bucket, usually through one last filter. 

 *If interested in making your own “white lightning,” you must follow Virginia codes and regulations.

The Virginia Way

You’ll find producers in Virginia who are using old-time recipes and methods passed down from generations in their family, quick-studies who developed a passion for moonshine and experimentation and those that fall somewhere between. 

Roosters Rise-N-Shine Distillery is one of those Franklin County places that held onto an original recipe – one that churned out illegal hooch for years – from an area native. Over time, it’s added its own spin with new flavors. The distillers here want people to know that while moonshine once came from backwoods operations, it’s now commercially available and just as good. They still find people wandering into the tasting room curious, and sometimes untrusting, but when moonshine is regulated, the product remains delicious and is totally safe when drinking responsibly.

Five Mile Mountain Distillery also uses traditional methods to produce its spirits – using an all-copper pot crafted in Virginia, fired by an open flame and a recipe that remains true to history. Every ingredient is hand-selected to create distinctive flavors and bottles. One thing they’d like to set the record straight on: moonshine is a versatile spirit that shouldn’t be limited to sipping. Moonshine cocktails make for some of the very best cocktails.

Belle Isle Craft Spirits bottle on the James River

Belle Isle Craft Spirits is a modern take on moonshine. Two brothers, Vince and Brian, saw that vodka and tequila had premium products that people clamored after, but moonshine did not. Thus began their quest to create the first premium moonshine. In a few short years, Belle Isle (based in Richmond) became known for its iconic and playful infusions. This distillery’s style and approach breaks the mold for moonshine and is a classic example of how local producers blend tradition with innovation to create something unique. You can find ready-to-drink cans and more with its diverse product line. 

How to Shop

If you’re lucky enough to live in Virginia, a.k.a the Birthplace of American Spirits, you have no shortage of options when it comes to the original spirit, moonshine. (And if you don’t, luckily, many distilleries ship out-of-state). 

You have two simple options to purchase a local bottle: At Virginia ABC stores or straight to the source at a distillery. With 400+ stores, you’re likely not far from a Virginia ABC store. If your store doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you can order online and have it shipped to a store of your choice within 7-14 days. If you’re looking for an experience and you want the opportunity to try before you buy, visiting a local distillery is your best bet. Plus, you’ll even find some small-batch products at the distillery that may not be on the shelves or listed with Virginia ABC. 

Taking advantage of events or festivals is another great option to sample before committing to the purchase. 

You could also mark your calendar for September, or as we like to call it: Virginia Spirits Month. For the whole month, many Virginia spirits, both in-store at Virginia ABC and at distillery tasting rooms, are offered at 20% off. The perfect time to stock up or try something new.

Finally, simply ask for “Virginia-made” at your favorite restaurant. Chat with your bartender or server to determine a cocktail recommendation or which ones are available for a sip. The more we ask for and support local, the more you’ll see Virginia on the menu!

How to Store

High-proof spirits like moonshine tend to have a long shelf life if it is properly stored. Exposure to certain elements like temperature, light, air and outside contaminants can impact the taste, aroma and overall quality of moonshine.

Keep your bottle in a cool, dark and dry environment where there is little-to-no sun exposure. However your shine is packaged originally, ensuring your bottle or jar is air-tight is among the most crucial parts of storing your moonshine – if oxygen creeps in, the chemical composition of the alcohol will begin to change.

How to Enjoy

A misconception of moonshine is that it is flavorless. While the flavor profile may be more subtle than others, there are plenty of elements to pick up on the palate. The strength of the flavor depends on the number of distillations it has been run through; multiple distillations create a more muted spirit. Though, many Virginia distilleries offer new, inventive flavors (see honey habanero or cold brew from Belle Isle) to add an extra element of depth and delight.

The image many have of moonshine is a clear liquid served straight up in a canning jar. Indeed, most moonshine is enjoyed with aplomb at room temperature, although there is nothing to stop you from pouring it in a tumbler and adding a few ice cubes if you wish. Keep in mind, the coolness of the cubes and dilution from melting ice will mute some of the flavor profiles, but if you enjoy it on the rocks, do so.

Another way to enjoy it chilled is to keep a bottle of moonshine in a freezer – it won’t freeze, or chill it in the refrigerator, even for a short spot of time before service.

And some folks don’t care for a spirit that is straight up, so infusing the ‘shine or crafting a cocktail with moonshine is perfectly acceptable – and delicious. 

Just like the producers who sell flavored moonshine, nothing is stopping you from infusing your moonshine. Pour some in a large glass container and add ingredients that will flavor it. Throw in sliced cucumbers, strawberries, peaches; crushed blueberries, blackberries, cherries or raspberries; chunks of pineapple or watermelon; or orange peel. Make an impromptu limoncello with lemon peel.

It also makes a great substitute for other spirits like gin and vodka. Consider a moonshine and tonic with cucumber, a moonshine and soda, a moonshine and cranberry, a moonshine bloody mary, a moonshine martini, a moonshine negroni and more. Here’s some inspiration: 

COCKTAIL RECIPES

lemon lavender Virginia moonshine cocktailblackberry Virginia moonshinehoney habanero Virginia moonshine cocktail

Apple Pie Shine

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 4 cups natural apple juice, 4 cups natural apple cider, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks and 1 tsp. apple pie spice.
  2. Bring to a low boil, cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Remove the cinnamon sticks, add 1-1/2 cups moonshine and stir.
  5. Transfer to three pint-sized, sealable jars. Jars can be refrigerated or stored at room temperature. Shake jars well before serving. Yield approximately 6 cups.

Moonshine Martini

  1. Pour 1/2-oz. dry vermouth in a martini glass and swirl glass. Make sure vermouth coats the glass interior. Discard remaining vermouth.
  2. Fill a small glass pitcher with ice and pour in 3 oz. moonshine.
  3. With a metal spoon, stir in a clockwise motion 100 times.
  4. Strain chilled moonshine into prepared martini glass and garnish with a lemon peel.

Oyster Shooter

  1. Rim a tall shot glass with Old Bay.
  2. In the glass add a freshly shucked Virginia oyster and top with 1 tsp. cocktail sauce.
  3. Pour in 1/2 tsp. pickle juice and 1-1/2-oz. of moonshine.

MOONSHINE WITH FOOD

To pair with food, you’ll most likely want it chilled or in a glass with ice. Cocktails and dishes go great together but do change the pairing from just a glass of moonshine by itself. When pairing cocktails with food, consider the primary flavor in the cocktail and compare and contrast with the dish.

Here are some of our favorite foods to enjoy with a nice tumbler of Virginia moonshine on the rocks:

Cheeses

  • soft cheeses, like brie, Epoisses, buffalo mozzarella, burrata or goat cheese
  • sharply flavored cheeses, like aged cheddar, gorgonzola or roquefort

Fruits

  • Citrus
  • Large firm berries, like blackberries or strawberries
  • Kiwi
  • Watermelon; try plugging a whole melon with moonshine

Meats

  • Bacon
  • Country ham
  • Fried chicken, perhaps cut up on a salad
  • Cured meats like prosciutto, salami, chorizo, pancetta, and longanisa
  • Jerky

Seafood

  • Smoked salmon
  • Smoked oysters
  • Roasted oysters
  • Anchovies, perhaps on flatbread or pizza
  • Spicy tuna sushi roll

Patrick Evans-Hylton is a Johnson & Wales-trained chef, food historian and award-winning food journalist covering tasty trends since 1995. He is the author of Virginia Distilled: Four Centuries of Drinking in the Old Dominion. Visit VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com for more.

Ready for a weekend filled with endless exploration and rich culture, all while stopping by to try award-winning spirits at some of Virginia’s best craft distilleries? If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve done the research for you – here’s your guide to a “spirited” adventure in Central 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.

SIPS

Central Virginia is known as the Piedmont region of the commonwealth, home to more than 23 local distilleries, making it a spirits lover’s dream for adventure and perfect sips. While we’ve already highlighted the Greater Richmond Area within the region, now it’s time to head northwest for the remaining 9 distilleries.

Each stop adds something unique to your weekend away (or staycation). In truth, you probably won’t get to all the wonderful places this region has to offer, which means you’ll definitely want to come back for more. Use this itinerary to start your journey. It can be manipulated based on your ideal starting point and final destination. 

Bold Rock Distillery

Bold Rock Distillery is a craft beverage lover’s dream. Known for its hard cider and wine, Bold Rock unveiled its tasting room in 2017, where spirits and cider enthusiasts unite to enjoy canned cocktails, small bites and live entertainment. Visit Bold Rock’s Nellysford location for concerts, game nights, outdoor movies and more all while enjoying the beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

  • 1020 Rockfish Valley Hwy., Ste. A, Nellysford, VA 22958
  • (434) 361-1030
  • Website 

Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company

“Quite simply, we exist for one thing: To bring the people together in the great outdoors.” Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Devil’s Backbone produces award-winning elixirs for visitors to sit back and enjoy. Check its website for events at the Basecamp, like concerts and pairing dinners.

  • 35 Crandall Run, Roseland, VA 22967
  • (434) 361-1001
  • Website

Ragged Branch Distillery

Using its own grain for mash, Ragged Branch Distillery is for the sweet and spicy bourbon lovers. Visit the tasting room for hand-crafted cocktails, quality beef (yep, that’s right) and pick up a bottle of your new favorite Bottled-In-Bond bourbon, all while enjoying the countryside views of Charlottesville. 

  • 1015 Taylors Gap Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22903
  • (434) 244-2600
  • Website

Silverback Distillery

For a “chest-thumping good time,” visit this mother-daughter distillery in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Silverback Distillery offers cocktail flights, barrel-smoked cocktails and whiskeys served neat for locals and visitors alike. Up north and wishing for a fix of Virginia spirits? Visit the Pennsylvania location in the Pocono region for the same quality craft(woman)ship.

  • 9374 Rockfish Valley Hwy., Afton, VA 22920
  • (540) 456-7070
  • Website

Spirit Lab Distilling

Behind the red door, you’ll find Spirit Lab Distilling – Charlottesville’s oldest licensed distillery, where owners Ivar and Sarah hand-craft their spirits with integrity and tradition. While distillery products are prone to selling out fast, you can stop by for tastings and bottle purchases.

  • 1503 6th St. SE, Charlottesville, VA 22902
  • (434) 218-2605
  • Website

Three Notch’d Distilling Company

Three Notch’d Distilling Co. was born from the spirited success of Three Notch’d Brewing Co. Rooted in quality and craftsmanship, its premium bourbon and whiskey reflect the dedication to excellence head distiller Pete Zitler pours into each bottle. Three Notch’d has five distilling locations for spirits lovers across the Commonwealth. Visit its website to find one closest to you for live music and community events.

  • 520 2nd St. SE, Charlottesville, VA 22902
  • (757) 916-8080
  • Website

Virginia Distillery Company

Virginia Distillery Company (VDC) epitomizes American single malt excellence. Founded by Dr. George G. Moore, his legacy lives on through the Courage & Conviction brand of whisky. With a commitment to quality and tradition, VDC crafts each barrel to perfection, honoring George’s vision while pioneering new whisky traditions. Visit for tastings, tours and events.

  • 299 Eades Ln., Lovingston, VA 22949
  • (434) 285-2900
  • Website

Virginia Foothills Distillery Co.

Opening its new tasting room in Orange County in 2024, Virginia Foothills Distillery Co. is welcoming visitors to sip bourbon and enjoy the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Cheers to a quality pour in the heart of Virginia’s magnificent landscape!

  • 5361 Spotswood Trail, Barboursville, VA 22923
  • Website

Vitae Spirits Distillery

Located in Charlottesville, Vitae Spirits is a small-batch distillery carefully crafted from molasses to glasses. Its focus on quality and innovation, coupled with community influence in ingredients and practice, results in unique creations like Golden Rum, Coffee Liqueur and Damson Gin. Visit the newly opened Henry Ave. location in downtown Charlottesville for tastings, cocktails, classes and a behind-the-scenes tour of its operation.

  • 715 Henry Ave., Charlottesville, VA 22903
  • (434) 270-0317
  • Website

DINING 

Charlottesville and the surrounding areas are well-known for top-notch restaurants with charm. From quick and simple staples to four star white tablecloth experiences,, you’ll stumble upon countless dining options during your time in Central Virginia. Here are some to get you started: 

  • For great food and good times, stop by The Virginian– Charlottesville’s oldest restaurant, famous for its mac ‘n cheese and sandwich selection. 
  • There are FOUR distilleries in and around Charlottesville. For nearby restaurants, we recommend Belle, Citizen Burger Bar and Revolutionary Soup. Make sure to leave time to stroll the local shops to enjoy all downtown Charlottesville has to offer. 
  • For a special night out, book a reservation at Duner’s for dinner after spending the afternoon at Ragged Branch Distillery. 
  • Indulge in some of the best pizza in Central Virginia at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie, just outside of Charlottesville.
  • End the day with a bit of luxury at Basic Necessities, located in Nellysford – book a reservation in advance to get your local dining fix. 
  • After working up an appetite at Virginia Distillery Company, head to Indian Oven for authentic dishes made with local ingredients. 
  • Craving a perfectly seasoned, slow-roasted BBQ? Barbeque Exchange has you covered! Savor a pulled pork sandwich on the pavilion with friends to end a perfect day of sipping #VaSpirits. 
  • If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, Main Street Tavern is the way to go. From burgers to flatbreads, there’s something for everyone. 

Two dinner plates at Duner's

Photo: Duner’s

For more dining ideas in Central Virginia, visit here

STAYS

From quaint and relaxing inns to luxury resorts, you’ll find the perfect place to extend your adventure. We’ve found a variety of special options for a memorable stay in Central Virginia. 

For an extended, memorable getaway, Wintergreen Resort, Southern Comfort Lakeside Cabin Resort or Boar’s Head Resort offers something for everyone in the family. 

Check out one of these unique stays for a cozy night after a day of exploring: 

A bit of boutique and luxury: 

EXPERIENCES 

While spirits are obviously the main attraction of your Central Virginia adventure, the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville has over 120 shops and 30 restaurants to visit and explore.

View of downtown Charlottesville walking mall

Photo: Visit Charlottesville

Other worthy pit stops: 

  • To spark curiosity on your weekend away, visit the Leander McCormick Observatory, one of the oldest observatory public programs in the country.
  • James River Batteau Company – For a relaxing cruise down the James River, book a sunset tour to enjoy good music and great food while spending time with friends and family.
  • Need a little vintage shopping therapy? The Gordonsville Antique & Flea Market is a perfect place to go on your way to Virginia Foothills Distillery & Co. 

While you’re traveling through the heart of Old Dominion, don’t miss out on the scenic views the state has to offer. For an exclusive guide on state parks and trails, visit here

Full-day activities: 

While you’re sampling spirits, you might as well explore more of the craft beverage scene. It’s a blossoming industry here, so go out and get a taste of local wineries and craft breweries. For all things local craft beverages, visit the Nelson 151, Virginia’s #LongWeekendAddress, to explore beautiful views, all while trying the best local sips. 

For more guides and resources on Central Virginia, head to virginia.org.

America’s first taverns were known as “ordinaries,” and by the 1640s, colonists all across Virginia publicly gathered for their daily dose of spirits (considered one of the safest beverages while drinking water was contaminated). We’ve come a long way since then – to countless, inventive restaurants with a lively scene that begins at the bar. 

We sat down with Savannah Duncan, bartender and server at Emerald Lounge – one of the hottest new restaurants in Richmond – and Alewife for a conversation about the connection between spirits and community, how to make the perfect cocktail for you and how understanding the Virginia distillation process has impacted her view on bartending. 

How did you make your way onto the bartending scene?

I’ve been bartending for a little over 4 years now, but I’ve been in and around the service industry my whole life. My run in with the bar world happened after indoor service came back after the first big pandemic wave. When I was asked if I wanted to return to my old job, they also asked all the servers to make all of our own tables’ drinks. And from there on out, I’ve been behind a bar somewhere!

What’s unique about mixing cocktails with local spirits? 

I’ve witnessed the love for locality raise pretty substantially after the pandemic. So, when I tell someone that a drink they order is made from local spirits, they often are overjoyed. It’s a connection to the community of spirits that mean just as much as a great taste or balancing addition to a cocktail.

For amateur mixologists or home bar enthusiasts, what are the makings of a good cocktail?

Personally, if you like it when you drink it and would have it again, it’s a good cocktail. Everyone has different palates, and our taste buds shift every seven or so years. Some people love bitter, others sour, and many loooove sweet. (Of course, there are many more descriptive words that come into play the longer you bartend or develop your palate!) The balance, I think, is when you find your perfect ratio. Always experiment and try new things!

Have you visited any Virginia distilleries to see the production process firsthand? How did that experience influence your work?

As a bartender, it’s a beautiful thing to see how the products you’re using everyday are made! I’ve visited a few local distilleries and breweries in Richmond and each time I learn something new.

Connecting the dots from beginning to tasty end is so cool. As many of us know, there are plenty of big brands out in the world that use additives or unethical practices to make its spirits and being able to see, taste and educate yourself in your own area on how a local spirit is made, can be a really unique and grounding experience!

As a bartender, if I can use a local spirit in a local bar – it just makes sense.

Strangest order you’ve gotten? Would you recommend?

I’ve had many people ask for strange things. I’ve had people bring in their own recipe books and people who ask for crazy modifications to drinks that are on the menu but the strangest thing someone has ordered from me, and I don’t know if I’ll ever understand, is rail vodka neat… a.k.a a shot of vodka. It’s just not for me!

 

Drop by Emerald Lounge or Alewife to see Savannah and get a delicious cocktail! And while you’re there, ask for Virginia-made. 

Ready for a weekend filled with endless exploration and rich culture, all while stopping by to try award-winning spirits at some of Virginia’s best craft distilleries? If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve done the research for you – here’s your guide to a “spirited” adventure in Central Virginia. We’re starting off with part one, specifically in the Greater Richmond region.

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. 

google map of Richmond distilleries and more

Everything we mention below is conveniently mapped out here.

SIPS

Richmond is known as the River City of the Commonwealth, and the greater Richmond region is home to 11 local distilleries – making it a spirits lover’s dream for adventure and perfect sips. Each of these Richmond distilleries adds something unique to your weekend away (or staycation). Before you leave, you’ll want to plan another trip to indulge in all the city has to offer. Use this itinerary to start your journey and manipulate based on your ideal starting point and final destination. 

Belle Isle Moonshine

Sip some of Richmond’s finest with Belle Isle Moonshine. They start by using 100% organic corn and purified water from the James River to create innovative infusions like honey habanero and lemon lavender. Each bottle reflects Belle Isle Moonshines’ dedication to quality and creativity. Stop by the tasting room to see where the magic happens or pick up ready-to-drink Belle Isle Canned Cocktails in select stores for immediate tastiness.

  • 615 Maury St., Richmond, VA 23224
  • (804) 723-1030
  • Website

Cirrus Vodka

Cirrus Vodka crafts spirits with a commitment to excellence. Triple-distilled and made from high-quality russet potatoes, Cirrus stops at nothing to achieve a smooth, creamier flavor profile. Hang out on the outdoor patio to sip cocktails with friends, or head to a nearby restaurant for a bite to eat, many of which carry this local favorite.

  • 1603 Ownby Ln., Richmond, VA 23220
  • (804) 495-1148
  • Website

Dogged State Distilling Company

Inspired by the adventurous spirit of the mahi-mahi, Dogged State Distilling Company distills each batch of vodka with passion and patience to capture a bold, smooth flavor. Whether you’re near Amelia Court House or Blackstone (just outside of Richmond), visit the Dogged State Diner for dinner and quality cocktails with family and friends.

  • 16401 Goodes Bridge Rd., Amelia Court House, VA 23002
  • (804) 561-2741
  • Website 

Hill Top Distillery

Owners at Hill Top at a picnic table

Sitting quietly in Maidens overlooking the James River, Hill Top Distillery is an ode to Virginia agriculture, handcrafting each award-winning spirit with local flavors and techniques. From coffee-flavored whiskey to tangerine-flavored moonshine, each visitor can find something to love. Check out the Hill Top Barn for tastings and live music during the warmer months and sip a Virginia pour with friends.

  • 2750 Maidens Loop , Maidens, VA 23102
  • (804) 212-8645
  • Website 

Lincoln Ridge Distillery

Nothing sits better on a wedding and event center than a distillery. Owners Richard and Monique Smith released their hand-crafted premium vodka and bourbon whiskey in 2024 using locally sourced ingredients. Visit theChesterfield bottle shop to pick up your next favorite pour to “enjoy the smoother things in life.”

  • 2149 Reymet Rd, Richmond, VA 23237
  • (804) 707-4373
  • Website

Main Line Brewery

Need a night out? Visit Main Line Brewery for spirits, live music, lawn games and community events. Located right next to Cirrus Vodka and around the corner from Virago Spirits, Main Line is the perfect hub for sips and celebrations! If you can’t make it out for a fun night, search #PupsofMainLine on socials for all the cute pup content at home.

  • 1603 Ownby Ln., Ste. 7, Richmond, VA 23220
  • (804) 387-9670
  • Website

Reservoir Distillery

Reservoir Distillery celebrates the heritage of spirits-making in the Commonwealth and what it takes to make a quality bottle of whiskey. Expand your horizons by joining Reservoir’s own Shelley Sackier, director of distillery education, in a Whiskey Nosing & Tasting 101 Masterclass. Here, you will learn about the history and science behind distillation and how to enjoy the perfect pour.

  • 1800A Summit Ave., Richmond, VA 23230
  • (804) 912-2621
  • Website

Sandy River Distillery

With a love for travel and adventure, owners Mark and Candice opened Sandy River Distillery to pay homage to the bootlegging history and their home island, Saint Maarten. Nestled between farmlands in Prince Edward County, the couple tests the boundaries of traditional distilling while using Virginia-grown products to craft their award-winning spirits. Visit the distillery to sip spirits under the pavilion, or stay a while and explore the Sandy River Outdoor Adventure Resort, with an adventure park, boat rentals, pool, farm and more!

  • 147 Monroe Church Rd., Rice, VA 23966
  • (434) 392-7275
  • Website

Three Crosses Distilling Company

Bar at Three Crosses Distillery

Three Crosses Distilling Company is Powhatan County’s inaugural legal distillery. Owners and distillers, John and Michelle, handcraft spirits with a passion and commitment to spirits-making heritage. John, driven by Appalachian culture, oversees production with care, while Michelle brings her passion for Bourbon to every batch. Come for the spirits but stay for the food at this Powhatan gathering spot.

  • 3835 Old Buckingham Rd., Powhatan, VA 23139
  • (804) 818-6330
  • Website

Trial & Error Distilling

Richmonders may know them as Bombolini, a neighborhood favorite for hand-made pasta, but we know them as Trial & Error Distilling, a small-batch distillery where tradition meets adventure. From meticulously crafted limoncellos to complex gins, the selection reflects the passion for the unexpected. Located in Richmond’s historic Fan district, Trial & Error offers a fusion of cultures and flavors for locals and visitors alike to enjoy.

  • 1606 W. Main St., Richmond, VA 23220
  • (804) 213-0212
  • Website

Virago Spirits

The spirit of the “Virago” – strength, courage, determination and vision – is the embodiment of the quality craftsmanship behind Virago Spirits. Visit the elegant tasting room for amazing handcrafted gins, rums and signature cocktails, and check the event page to register for a tour of the operation or an Art of the Cocktail class.

  • 1727 Rhoadmiller St., Richmond, VA 23220
  • (804) 355-8746
  • Website

DINING 

The Greater Richmond Area is teeming with unparalleled restaurants loved by locals and visitors alike. Here, you’ll find inventive, farm-to-table options that pair perfectly with local spirits. There are far too many to list them all, but here are a few of our favorites.

  • Sip the spirits of Dogged State Distilling Co. while eating at the diner of the same name for a perfect pairing of local flavors.
  • For another #VaDistillery choice, pick up a ready-to-eat pasta meal at Bombolini, which also houses Trial & Error Distilling right in the heart of Richmond. 
  • There are FIVE distilleries in and around RVA’s Scott’s Addition district, for walkable restaurant options, visit LUNCH.SUPPER!, Fat Dragon Chinese Kitchen and Bar and Pinky’s.
  • If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, visit Howlett’s Restaurant & Tavern in Chester, near Lincoln Ridge Distillery, for its diverse menu and specialty options.
  • Check out the Goochland Restaurant for brunch before heading to Hill Top Distillery. The hometown atmosphere is what draws people in, and comfort food is what has them coming back for more.
  • Want to feel like a RVA local? Check out the Edo Squid for cultivated Italian dining. Half the adventure is finding the restaurant; the other half is enjoying pasta like no other. Dine at The Daily Kitchen & Bar for lunch after spending the afternoon shopping local in Carytown. There are several gluten-free menu options for visitors seeking delicious, accommodating meals. 
  • Head over to Shindigz for a sweet treat and local artisan crafts. 
  • End the day with a bit of luxury at Lemaire, located in the Jefferson Hotel– book a reservation in advance to get your premier dining fix. 

For more dining ideas in Greater Richmond, visit here

STAYS

From quaint and relaxing inns to luxury resorts, you’ll find the perfect place to extend your adventure. We’ve found a variety of special options for a memorable stay in RVA and beyond. 

  • The Sandy River Outdoor Adventure is a hidden gem with Sandy River Distillery on-site, in addition to a pool, high ropes obstacle course, farm, kayaks and more. After you finish your evening in the SRD tasting room, walk to your cabin or luxury tipi for glamping at its finest.

Two men in Sandy River tasting room

Check out one of these unique stays for a cozy night after a day of exploring: 

A bit of boutique and luxury: 

EXPERIENCES 

While spirits are obviously the main attraction of your adventure, the River City (Richmond) has over 30 museums to visit and explore. If shopping and exercise is more your thing, stop by Carytown and support small businesses and walk along the trails of Belle Isle for beautiful views of the James River. 

Richmond Museums

While you’re traveling through the heart of Old Dominion, don’t miss out on the scenic views the state has to offer. For an exclusive guide on state parks and trails, visit here

Full-day activities

  • Kings Dominion & Soak City – Enjoy world-class roller coaster thrills and 
  • Pick your own fruit at Chesterfield Berry Farm.
  • Metro Richmond Zoo – See 2,000 animals representing 190 species from around the world for an educational afternoon. 
  • For an easy-going night out, catch a movie at the eclectic Byrd Theatre in Carytown, or stay in your car and see a film on the big screen at the Goochland Drive-In Theater
  • #DYK, there are over 170 parks in the City of Richmond? Maymont is a local favorite, but you can’t miss the others as you cruise around the city. 
  • Hang out with Nutzy, the mascot of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, for an evening of baseball at the Diamond
  • From mini golf to duckpin bowling, The Park has something for everyone to enjoy if you’re looking for a night of fun and excitement. 

While you’re sampling spirits at Richmond distilleries, you might as well explore more of the craft beverage scene. It’s a blossoming industry here, so go out and get a taste of local wineries and craft breweries.

For more guides and resources on Richmond, head to visitrichmondrva.com.

America’s first taverns were known as “ordinaries,” and by the 1640s, colonists all across Virginia publicly gathered for their daily dose of spirits (considered one of the safest beverages while drinking water was contaminated). We’ve come a long way since then – to countless, inventive restaurants with a lively scene that begins at the bar. 

We sat down with Karen Negvesky, owner and bar manager at Sincero – one of the hottest new restaurants in Richmond, for a conversation about the path to owning and operating a bar, what local spirits you might find at the restaurant and tips to mastering the art of the cocktail. 

How did you make your way onto the bartending scene?

I started working in restaurants when I dropped out of college, hoping to get a foot in the door of the hospitality industry. Since 2015, I’ve now worked every front-of-house position, dabbled in kitchen work for some time, and even found myself working on a farm that supplied most of the produce to those restaurants. The bar has always been where I find myself most excited to create things and play with flavors. 

What local bottles can you find at Sincero?

I don’t have a wide selection of local spirits on our bar at the moment, as we find most of our drinks are based with tequila, mezcal or rum. But we always have a few selections from Virago on the back bar. Definitely one of my favorite local distilleries!

bar at Sincero

For amateur mixologists or home bar enthusiasts, what are the makings of a good cocktail?

My favorite thing about making drinks at home is that there aren’t any rules! I think a “good” cocktail is what you personally find delicious. BUT, starting with a cocktail recipe you like and swapping the main spirit or another ingredient is a great way to play with flavors. When in doubt, you can also always follow 2 (spirit) : 1 (sweet) : 1 (sour) – you’ll always get something good. 

How do you keep up with the latest mixology trends?

Social media always lets me know what’s popular, but I definitely pick and choose which trends to partake in especially when it comes to building the menu and pairing with food.

If you were a cocktail, what would you be and why? Bonus points for the recipe!

I’d totally be a banana daiquiri! I’m a summer gal through and through. One of my favorite things is sitting in the sunshine in mid-July with a book and a cold cocktail. A daiquiri always hits that perfect sweet, bitter, fruity mark for me. And throw in a little Jamaican rum to make it a little more funky and fun!

  • 1.5 oz Virago white rum
  • 0.5 oz Plantation Xaymaca
  • 0.75 oz Giffard banane de bresil 
  • 1.0 oz lime juice

 

Drop by Sincero to see Karen and get a delicious cocktail! And while you’re there, ask for Virginia-made. 

Have you been itching to explore the beauty of Virginia’s shorelines and visit iconic landmarks quintessential to American history, all while stopping by to try some local award-winning spirits? If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve done the research for you – here’s your guide to a “spirited” adventure in Coastal 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

SIPS

With 12 top-tier distilleries to pick from, Coastal Virginia is the ideal place to travel the coastline searching for the perfect spirit. Each of these producers adds something unique to your visit to the region. Use this itinerary to start your journey and manipulate based on your ideal starting point and final destination. 

8 Shires Coloniale Distillery

Virginia is the birthplace of American spirits, and 8 Shires Coloniale Distillery was founded on the research and experimenting of distillation in early America. Taste the living history 8 Shires created, tour its operation for a behind-the-scenes look and check out the SPIRITS Museum for a deeper look on the distilling process during the colonial era.

  • 7218 Merrimac Tr., Williamsburg, VA 23185
  • (757) 378-2456
  • Website 

Beach Vodka

Raise a glass to good times with great friends at Beach Vodka’s easy breezy tasting room. This women-owned business shares its love for friends and family by creating a quality vodka that is filled, corked and sealed by hand. Relish and relax in the coast life at Beach Vodka the next time you stop by Virginia Beach.

  • 1375 Oceana Blvd., Ste. 142, Virginia Beach, VA 23454
  • (757) 474-5941
  • Website 

Cape Charles Distillery

Known for being the first distillery on the Eastern Shore, Cape Charles Distillery sources its water from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains to distill its spirits. From moonshine to bourbon, spirits lovers will find their next favorite pour at CCD’s newly opened tasting room and patio, located in the heart of charming Cape Charles.

  • 222 Mason Ave., Cape Charles VA, 23310
  • (757) 695-3737
  • Website 

Chesapeake Bay Distillery

With over 17 years of experience crafting spirits, Chesapeake Bay Distillery not only creates its own quality products but also lends its own expertise to help other brands produce award-winning spirits. Just a few blocks from the boardwalk, Chesapeake Bay Distillery has mastered the art of passion and science to produce a clean, pure pour.

  • 437 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA 23451
  • (757) 498-4210
  • Website 

Copper Fox Distillery – Williamsburg

Copper Fox is one of five distilleries in the nation to floor malt its barley to make authentic single malt whiskey. If you love the smokiness of a good whiskey, stop by the Williamsburg tasting room and relax with a Virginia pour while you explore the creativity of a revitalized old motel turned world-class distillery. 

  • 901 Capitol Landing Rd., Williamsburg, VA 23185
  • (757) 903-2076
  • Website 

Deep Creek Distillery

Deep Creek Distillery’s origin story began when two people bought almost identical stills in search of creating the perfect flavor profile. Owners Royall and Dave have been producing award-winning spirits for the last 10 years and pour passion into every bottle. Visit their tasting room to sample and learn more about Deep Creek’s traditional distilling process.

  • 801 Butler Street, Ste. 12, Chesapeake, VA 23323
  • (757) 675-3250
  • Website 

Ironclad Distillery

The  “bourbon gene” runs deep at Ironclad, a family-founded and run distillery. Operating in the 1913 S.W. Holt & Co. warehouse and neighboring the Battle of the Ironclads, its operation is steeped in Virginia history. Visit its tasting room in Newport News for tastings and tours, or check out the new “Bed & Breakfast & Bourbon” in Fredericksburg (coming soon). Feeling sneaky? Ask to see the hidden speakeasy you would never know is there!

  • 123 23rd St., Newport News, VA 23607
  • (917) 696-8880
  • Website 

New Realm Distilling Co. 

Want a night out with friends, good music and fun activities? Head over to New Realm Distilling Company! While it’s primarily known for its brews, its small-batch spirits are a hidden gem that has people coming back for more. Visit for dinner and check its events page to catch live music and seasonal events. 

  • 1209 Craft Ln., Virginia Beach, VA 23454
  • (757) 302-8550
  • Website 

Reverend Spirits

Bourbon is Karl Dornemann’s first love, and as owner and master distiller at Reverend, he gives each bottle the care and attention it deserves. Visit the tasting room Tuesdays and Thursdays to pick up your new favorite, quality Virginia-made spirit. Or head to one of several restaurants opened and managed by Dornemann in the Hampton Roads region – where Reverend is the whiskey of choice.

  • 1120 W. Olney Rd., Norfolk, Virginia 23507
  • (757) 233-9168
  • Website 

Tarnished Truth Distilling Company

“In the great American south, whiskey is in our blood.” There is nothing quite like sipping on a Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey in a leather chair with the smell of light smokiness filling the air. Visit Tarnished Truth Distilling Company inside the Historic Cavalier Hotel for the epitome of a fine distillery, dining and resort experience. Be sure to schedule a distillery tour to get the mos out of your visit!

  • 4200 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, VA 23451
  • (757) 965-9652
  • Website 

The Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery (Caiseal Beer and Spirits Company)

Located in Hampton Roads, The Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery is a hotspot for locals to enjoy live music, quality spirits and a specialty prepared food menu. Stop by to sip on its craft cocktails while enjoying local music with friends on your next trip to coastal Virginia.

  • 504 N. King St., Hampton, VA, 23669
  • (757) 224-1216
  • Website 

Waterman Spirits

Clean, organic spirits were a priority when owner Mariah Standing entered the distilling industry. Filtered with environmentally sourced coral, Waterman’s organic vodkas will have you craving Virginia Beach’s iconic Orange Crush every time you visit. Don’t forget to book a one-hour cocktail class to learn how to create unforgettable cocktails using Waterman’s Spirits.

  • 712A Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, VA 23451
  • (757) 904-1338
  • Website 

DINING 

Coastal Virginia is filled with unique, world-class restaurants. While seafood is plentiful and often the course of choice for pairing with local  spirits, you’ll also find diverse cuisine options and hidden gems the locals love. There are far too many to list them all, but here are a few of our favorites. 

  • After sipping spirits at Tarnished Truth Distilling Company, head to The Hunt Room, adjacent to the distillery, for a casual fine dining experience steeped in history. Advanced reservations highly recommended!
  • A beach favorite, Waterman’s Surfside Grill is only three blocks from its distillery and has been serving fine seafood and Orange Crushes by the seaside for more than 40 years.
  • Want to feel like a Virginia Beach local? Check out Doc Taylor’s for brunch and their sister restaurant next door, Tautog’s, for a morning mimosa. The hometown atmosphere and quick service are what draw people in, and comfort food is what has them coming back for more. 
  • Indulge in the best pasta on the Eastern Shore at Deadrise Italian Kitchen, just two blocks from Cape Charles Distillery. 
  • For a luxurious night out, book a reservation at Hook @ Harvey overlooking the Bay to get your seafood fix and see unrivaled sunsets. 
  • If you’re not in the mood for seafood, visit The Public House for an assortment of upscale comfort food. Owned by the founders of Reverend Spirits, this spot is full of fun happenings, including karaoke, trivia and live music. Plus, it carries 275 whiskey’s from around the globe.
  • Dine at Circa 1918 Kitchen and Bar before heading to Ironclad Distillery and indulge in its specialty charcuterie and cheese boards with friends.  
  • #DYK, Williamsburg has the highest per capita ratio of waffle and pancake houses in the U.S.? Capitol Pancake House is right between Virginia’s two Williamsburg distilleries, Copper Fox and 8 Shires Coloniale Distillery. Fill up on pancakes before tasting award-winning spirits. 
Hunt Room at The Cavalier Hotel

For more dining ideas spanning along Virginia’s coast, visit here

STAYS

From quaint and historic inns to luxury resorts, you’ll find the perfect place to extend your adventure. We’ve found a variety of special options for a memorable stay in Coastal Virginia. 

  • If you’re looking to splurge, the Historic Cavalier Hotel is a Virginia Beach icon with three luxury dining rooms, including Tarnish Truth Distilling Company inside the Hunt Room. After you finish your tour and tasting at TTDC, take the elevator to your room or walk across the street to its sister location, Cavalier Beach Club, for more sips and sights of the beach. Kingsmill Resort is another luxury option down the road in Williamsburg. From golf and tennis to pools and a relaxing spa, Kingsmill has something for everyone in the family. 

Check out one of these unique stays for a cozy night after a day of exploring: 

A bit of boutique and luxury:  

EXPERIENCES 

While the spirits are the star of your Coastal Virginia adventure, you shouldn’t miss out on the fun, history and culture that awaits. Here are a few of our favorite places to help enhance your trip. 

Museums Galore

Virginia Beach

While you’re traveling through Virginia’s Historic Triangle (Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown), don’t miss out on the key historical sites that started the nation. For an inclusive guide on what to check out, visit here

Full-day activities

  • Busch Gardens Williamsburg – Enjoy the thrills and rides at one of the world’s most beautiful theme parks.
  • First Landing State Park – Featuring 1.25 miles of beach and over 19 miles of hiking trails, First Landing State Park is the perfect mix of history and outdoor adventure. The park was the site of the first landing of the British Colonists in 1607 before heading to Jamestowne to establish settlement. 
  • Williamsburg Premium Outlets – Get your shopping fix at the Williamsburg Premium Outlets with over 135 stores. 
  • Kiptopeke State Park – On the eastern shore and once explored by Capt. John Smith in 1608, this state park has over five miles of breathtaking trails that capture the beauty of the Virginia coast.
  • Yorktown Beach – Lay out on the beach, grab a bite at one of the local restaurants and stroll through historic Yorktown, a captivating coastline stretch.

For more guides and resources on Coastal Virginia, head to Virginia Tourism’s Chesapeake Bay Guide, Eastern Shore Guide and Hampton Roads Guide

March is Women’s History Month, and it’s the perfect time to highlight some of the amazing women who are driving the Virginia distilling community forward. In a male-dominated industry, they’ve played a critical role in the establishment and expansion of quality spirits-making across the Commonwealth. 

From opening their doors and welcoming spirits enthusiasts from across the world to getting their hands dirty and fine-tuning their craft products, we have a lot of women to thank. Here’s fifteen to start.

Mary Allison & Shelley Sackier – Reservoir Distillery

These two women are at the helm of the ship for Reservoir Distillery, one of Virginia’s premier bourbon and whiskey producers. Notably one of the first female head distillers in the nation, Mary (left) has been the head distiller at Reservoir for nearly ten years. As director of distillery education, Shelley (right) leads all research, development and education efforts for the distillery and is a driving force for the industry as a whole. 

Michelle Davenport – Three Crosses Distilling Co.

Starting Three Crosses alongside her husband, Michelle took a love for bourbon and became a student of the craft. Now, as owner and distiller, she’s joined the exclusive club of women who are leading distillers in the Commonwealth. 

Angela H. Moore, Maggie Moore & Amanda Beckwith – Virginia Distillery Co.

From chairwoman (Angela – left) and chief experience officer (Maggie – center) to lead blender (Amanda – right), Virginia Distillery Co. wouldn’t be what it is without strong women. Angela has helped the distillery blossom into the vision of her late husband, and a scholarship from VDC, the Angela H. Moore Women in Distilling Scholarship, was named in her honor. Maggie is focused on the distillery’s visitors center, creating an educational, welcoming experience for all guests. Amanda, expert on all things American Single-Malt, is one of the most knowledgeable, well-known advocates for Virginia whiskey production. 

Vicki Haneberg – Virago Spirits

If you’ve stopped into the Virago tasting room, chances are you’ve seen or heard of Vicki Haneberg. Vicki is a co-founder, manages the tasting room with a smile, coordinates events and builds community partnerships. She also serves on the Virginia Spirits Board. 

Stephanie Somers – Beach Vodka

When the old Beach Vodka shut its doors in 2019, Stephanie stepped up and took over. Her entrepreneurial spirit has helped elevate the spirits’ brand to new, creative heights. 

Mariah Standing – Waterman Spirits

Also at the beach, Mariah is the owner and founder of Waterman Spirits. Her commitment to creating an organic line of authentic, craft spirits began in 2022, and she’s been “crushing” it ever since.

Becky Harris – Catoctin Creek

Our second owner-distiller combo, Becky is a force to be reckoned with in the spirits industry. She took her STEM background in chemical engineering and now crafts some of the nation’s best rye whiskeys. Becky also recently served as president of the American Craft Spirits Association, becoming the first female president of the only nonprofit trade association for craft spirits producers.

Kelly Gordon – Springfield Distillery 

Kelly is the “owner, CEO, taste master and concoctionist” at Springfield Distillery. What started out as a forever home and family venture, quickly turned into a change of career plans. Now, it’s gone beyond the traditional distillery tasting room; Springfield includes an event venue and two fully outfitted cabins.

Lisa Laird-Dunn – Laird & Company (sourced in VA)

Lovingly dubbed the First Lady of Apple Jack, Lisa is a 9th-generation CEO of this famous family business. She keeps the tradition alive and has been a critical part of the brand’s growing footprint.  

Sherry Brockenbrough – Hill Top Distillery

Hill Top Distillery is a whole family affair, and Sherry is the heart of the operation. As co-owner and contributing distiller, she became a quick study of spirits making when the retired couple saw potential in the mysterious and majestic woodlands in Maidens, Virginia.

Christine & Lauren Riggleman – Silverback Distillery

This mother-daughter duo is iconic among the distilling community. As CEO and co-master distiller, Christine’s spirits have racked up 16 international awards, on top of numerous local and statewide awards. In 2014, she was named one of the top gin distillers in the United States through MSN.com. Lauren (right) joined the team in 2022 as co-master distiller and is recognized as the youngest master distiller in the United States. Both Christine and Lauren have been inducted into the ABV Network’s Bourbon Hall of Fame.


We hope you’ll make it out to these distilleries, this March and beyond – and when you do, raise a glass to all the women who make Virginia Spirits what it is today. Stay tuned on @VaSpirits social media to learn more all month long!

Ready for a weekend of endless exploration and rich culture, all while stopping by to try some local #VaSpirits at a few of Virginia’s best craft distilleries? If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve done the research for you – here’s your guide to a “spirited” adventure in Northern Virginia.

Scroll for a complete list of distilleries to visit (itinerary included) and recommendations on lodging, food and activities to enhance your stay.  Everything we mention below is conveniently mapped out here

SIPS

Northern Virginia is every craft spirits lover’s dream with so many distilleries to choose from! Each of these 15 producers add something unique and special to your visit to the region. Use this itinerary to start your journey and manipulate based on your ideal starting point and final destination. 

A. Smith Bowman Distillery

Right outside Downtown Fredericksburg sits A. Smith Bowman, pouring passion into every glass for the last 90 years. Until the 1950s, A. Smith Bowman was the sole legal whiskey producer in the Commonwealth. Visit one of the most award-winning distilleries, take a tour of its production facilities and learn more about the rich history of distilling and barrel-aging here. 

  • 1 Bowman Dr, Fredericksburg, VA 22408
  • (540) 373-4555
  • Website 

Belmont Farm Distillery

Notably featured on the hit Discovery Channel show Moonshiners, Belmont Farms Distillery has a pour for everyone. Stop in to try some award-winning spirits, tour the operation, meet Master Distiller Chuck Miller and pick up Moonshiners Tim Smith’s famous Climax Moonshine.

  • 13490 Cedar Run Rd, Culpeper, VA 22701
  • (540) 825-3207
  • Website 

Catoctin Creek

Enjoy the uniquely pure and clean flavor profiles at Catoctin Creek, located in Purcellville. Founders Becky and Scott Harris pour their all into quality, hand-crafted rye whiskey bottles. Enjoy a flight, learn more about the distilling process and fill your own bottle with the hands-on “Catoctin Creek Filling Station.”

  • 120 W Main St, Purcellville, VA 20132
  • (540) 751-8404
  • Website 

Copper Fox Distillery – Sperryville

Love the smokiness of a good whiskey? Visit Copper Fox for its fruit-wood-forward flavor profiles and innovative malting process. Copper Fox is one of five distilleries in the nation to floor malt its barley to properly develop its single malt whiskey. Stop in for a sip of award-winning spirits, while enjoying the views of the Blue Ridge right from the tasting room. 

  • 9 River Ln, Sperryville, VA 22740
  • (540) 987-8554
  • Website 

Dida’s Distillery

This California winery turned Virginia distilling family business creates a unique pour with 100% grape-based spirits. Wine is the true inspiration for Dida’s operation, housed at Rappahannock Cellars in Huntly. Thirsty for both wine and spirits? Visit the tasting room for a sip of each, while enjoying the views of the countryside and vineyards. 

  • 14437 Hume Rd, Huntly, VA 22640
  • (540) 551-8141
  • Website 

Droumavalla Farm 

Nestled in Leesburg, Droumavalla is a multi-venue event space, winery, brewery and distillery. Droumavalla has just begun to distill its first batch of whiskey and is waiting for the perfect time for its product to mature. Keep this on your radar if you’re looking for a new favorite whiskey to try, and in the meantime, enjoy the rest of what it has to offer. 

  • 14980 Limestone School Rd, Leesburg, VA 20176
  • (703) 777-3267
  • Website 

Falls Church Distillers

This family operation is grounded in a passion for making quality spirits. Located just outside the nation’s capital in the suburbs of Falls Church, this distillery offers tasting flights, cocktails and tours. You can expect a wide range of small-batch, ultra-premium spirits from vodka and gin to rum, brandy and whiskey. 

  • 8420 Kao Cir., Unit A, Manassas, VA 20110
  • (703) 858-9186
  • Website 

Flying Ace Distillery

Flying Ace works to bring its customers the freshest farm-to-glass experience possible at its distillery and restaurant. Visit the property for a beautiful view of Furnace Mountain, enjoy live music and the on-site restaurant then pick up a unique bottle of craft spirits for your shelf.

  • 40950 Flying Ace Ln., Lovettsville, VA 20180
  • (540) 579-2007
  • Website 

George Washington’s Distillery at Mount Vernon 

George Washington’s Distillery and Gristmill are fully functioning reconstructions of President Washington’s original production facilities. The two-story distillery is open seasonally (weekends April – October), producing small-batch whiskeys and offering tours diving into the deep history of Washington’s estate and his role in spirits-making in Virginia and the U.S.

  • 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon, VA 22121
  • (703) 780-2000
  • Website 

KO Distilling

Sip on KO’s Bare Knuckle Straight Bourbon Whiskey while sitting on the patio, taking in the Manassas scenery. Learn about all aspects of its operation, from mash to the bottle. Co-founders Bill Karlson and John O’Mara love to share the space with their community and converse with fellow spirits lovers. 

  • 10381 Central Park Dr., Ste. 105, Manassas, VA 20110
  • (571) 292-1115
  • Website 

Lost Whiskey

“We think whiskey and architecture are key and compatible ingredients to life.” At Lost Whiskey, no story, nor barrel, is the same. Visit the warehouse for tastings of spirits and BBQ and enjoy the specially curated space and attention to detail — the perfect place to enjoy a glass of Virginia. 

  • 2811 Merrilee Drive Suite D, Fairfax, VA 22031
  • (703) 304-1159
  • Website 

Mt. Defiance Cidery & Distillery

Housed in quaint Middleburg, Mt. Defiance adds a spin on traditional recipes and classic spirits. Known for its large portfolio of distilled gems, each visitor can find something to love. Visit the tasting room for a flight to find a new favorite, and enjoy a game of Trivia from time to time.

  • 207 W. Washington Street, Middleburg, VA 20118
  • (540) 687-8100
  • Website 

MurLarkey Distilled Spirits

Share the simple pleasures of locally produced craft spirits with friends and family at MurLarkey. 100 percent “farm-to-flask,” the group here supports local Virginia farmers and sustainably hand selects high-quality materials for their premium spirits. Take a mixology class with Master Distiller Papi, or be a distiller for a day with a hands-on experience that takes you through the distilling process. 

  • 7961 Gainsford Ct., Bristow, VA 20136
  • (571) 284-7961
  • Website 

Old House Vineyards

A once-abandoned Alfalfa Hay farm is now one of the region’s most beloved distillery-winery-brewery combos. Visit the Old House tasting room and one-of-a-kind World War II museum, featuring the family’s veteran ties to the war.

  • 18351 Corkys Lane, Culpeper, VA 22701
  • (540) 423-1032
  • Website 

Orkney Springs Distillery

Made with mountain spring water from the Orkney Spring, this distillery is dedicated to the natural botanicals and extracts that go into making a quality spirit. Reserve an appointment for a tasting to remember and enjoy the surrounding scenery of Springfield. 

  • 7701 Southern Dr Ste A1-R, Springfield, VA 22150
  • (540) 339-7665
  • Website 

DINING 

Northern Virginia is a hot spot for local eateries. Here you’ll find farm-to-table options and quality dishes from some of the world’s best chefs. There are way too many to list them all, but here are a few suggestions to get you started. 

View from Patowmack Farm
  • Indulge in hand-crafted pasta at Trattoria Villagio while you sip wine with friends and hang out under the stars on their trattoria.
  • Want to feel like a NoVA local? Check out The Sandwich Shop for their expansive menu that has something for everyone.
  • The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm is the perfect spot for dinner with a view. Neighboring right next to Flying Ace Distillery and Droumavalla Farm, this luxury spot is the place to end a romantic getaway exploring Northern Virginia. 
  • Take a step back in time at Hunter’s Head Tavern to enjoy its locally sourced menu and historical gastropub. 
  • After sipping Mt. Defiance’s spirits, walk on over to King St Oyster Bar for a plate of oysters to share.
  • Dine at It’s About Thyme for a charming European ambiance and a variety of menu options for everyone’s preferences. 
  • End the day with a flavorful Greek dinner at Katerina’s Greek Cuisine after exploring your favorite distilleries in NoVA. 
  • Splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime experience at one of the DMV’s only 3 Michelin Star restaurants,  The Inn at Little Washington in the town of the same name. And if three stars are a little too much to reach for, try their more casual sister Patty O’s Cafe for a fantastic weekend brunch. Make sure to leave time to stroll the grounds of the Inn’s “compound” and the plethora of art galleries lining the streets. 

No matter where you end up, be sure to ask for “Virginia Made” from the local bartender!

For more ideas as you explore Virginia near the nation’s capital, visit here

STAYS

From quaint and historic bed & breakfasts to boutique inns, you’ll find the perfect place to extend your adventure. We’ve found a variety of special options for a memorable stay in Northern Virginia. 

Check out one of these unique B&Bs for a cozy night after a day of exploring: 

A bit of boutique and (a lot of) luxury:  

EXPERIENCES 

While the spirits are the star of your Northern Virginia adventure, you can’t miss out on the fun, history and culture that surrounds you while exploring. Here are a few of our favorite places to help enhance your trip. 

Museums Galore

While you’re exploring NoVA’s museums, you may as well make a stop in D.C. and visit the world’s largest museum, research and education complex. The Smithsonian Institution has 21 museums and education centers for free — there’s something for everyone!

battlefield in Manassas, Virginia
Courtesy of Visit Prince William

Worthy pit stops

  • Cossey Botanical Park – Walk around Cossey Botanical Park for the views and beauty.
  • Bees & Trees Farm – Before you take your sips at Old House Vineyard, stop by Bees & Trees Farm to say hi to Tigger and Eeyore, its two most popular barn animals. 
  • Tysons Corner Center – Get your shopping fix at Tysons Corner Galleria with over 300 shops and restaurants. 
  • Middleburg, VA –  Known as The Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital, the charming, tiny town of Middleburg offers the best of small-town America: local art museums, historic landmarks and one-of-a-kind antiques.

For more guides and resources, head to virginia.org.

Virginia Spirits is for lovers. There’s no better way to mark the special occasion of Valentine’s Day than toasting with a glass filled with locally produced, quality spirits. 

From recognizing your partner’s fascination with the distilling process and supporting local to sampling and sipping all around the Commonwealth, here are three ways to incorporate Virginia spirits into your Valentine’s Day celebrations. 

Love for the Craft

For the spirits’ enthusiast in your life, the dedicated time, careful attention and small-batch approach to Virginia spirits is something to admire. So much heart and soul is poured into crafting each bottle made in the Commonwealth. 

Seek out and gift the good stuff – special reserves only available at the distillery, hand-signed bottles from the distiller who crafted it, new releases, etc. – to show your special person (who just so happens to be a spirits nerd) that you care and understand their love for the craft. 

Love at First Sip

The best Valentine’s Day celebrations and romantic dinners involve smooth, dreamy libations. Whether you’re making a special dinner for the one you love, having your girlfriends over for a rom-com movie marathon or toasting to yourself, Virginia spirits have you covered. 

Check out these sweet, sippable cocktails: 

Even if food is the star of the show, handcrafted spirits will only enhance the evening. Here are some pairing suggestions for this day of love: 

  • Oysters + Gimlets (Gin)
  • Charcuterie + Brandy
  • Steak + Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour
  • Chocolate + Straight Sippers: While there are cocktails that incorporate and support the indulgence of chocolate, we recommend keeping it simple. Overall, bourbon – with smooth, caramel notes coming from new charred oak barrels – is ideal for a variety of chocolates. Other ideas include:
    • Milk Chocolate + Rum
    • Nutty Chocolate + Rye Whiskey
    • White Chocolate + Gin
  • Any Dessert + Espresso Martini (Vodka, Coffee Liqueur)

We promise, it’ll be love at first sip!

Love is an Adventure

If your significant other is one for adventures, Virginia spirits can offer just that. From special events to a winding trail of exploration, 70+ Virginia distilleries wait to host you this Valentine’s Day. 

There are events all month long to shower your person with the love (and spirits) they deserve: 

Hoping for something more unique and intimate for the two of you? Use the itinerary feature to plan a day or weekend getaway to a region of your choosing. We even have a comprehensive guide on trips to the Virginia Mountains, Shenandoah Valley, Southwest Virginia and Southern Virginia regions. 

And… earn points for visiting! The Virginia Spirits Passport is a mobile pass that allows you to redeem those points for prizes like cocktail ingredients, swag and special sweepstakes. On Valentine’s Day (2/14), we’re offering double the points – which means double the opportunity for prizes. 

For all the romantic vibes this holiday, we can’t get enough of these tasting rooms: 

At the end of the day, love is an adventure – and traversing through one of Virginia’s seven distinct distilling regions is a memorable expression of that love.

If you can’t make it out to a distillery, shop Virginia spirits at a Virginia ABC store near you. Sip responsibly. 

It’s giving season, and what better way to share something delicious with friends and family (while supporting small businesses) than with a bottle of craft spirits made right here in Virginia! Read on to learn where and how to shop for local spirits this December and beyond. 

Make it an Experience

Distilleries can’t wait to host you in their tasting rooms! Sample before you buy and get to know the distiller and their products, so you can share a bottle with a story. This is often the best way to see a distillery’s full product list, including specialty, small-batch bottles only available at the distillery. Many also have online ordering and shipping available. Visit our Virginia Spirits Trail for quick links to distillery websites and online shops.

Another alternative, Virginia ABC stores carry a wide catalog of curated spirits. With stores all over the Commonwealth, look for the “Virginia Made” section and find your next favorite bottle. If you can’t find the exact craft spirit you’re looking for, you can order online and have it shipped directly to your local store in 7-14 days. 

Discover the Latest Award Winners

If you’re unsure where to start, take expert or public opinion into consideration! Virginia distillers are award-winning and incredibly talented. Here’s just a few recent recognitions to help you decide on something special: 

Bundle for Craft Cocktails

cocktail with clear liquid and sprig of rosemary
Rosemary Rickey, courtesy of KO Distilling

Explore our cocktail page to find a delicious, personalized beverage for your loved ones. Purchase all the ingredients and print out the recipe for a thoughtful gift that inspires future get-togethers and memories. Here are some ideas for this winter season

Each holiday season, several local distilleries put together their own kits and bundles, too. Head to their website or check them out in tasting rooms or at Virginia ABC stores. 

Celebrate Local Artisans

One of the great things about the Virginia Spirits community is that most operations are small businesses and true “mom and pop shops.” When you visit, you get to know them and their story. Pick up your favorite bottle and ask for the distiller to sign it for a special touch. A great gift for the spirits fanatic in your life… a hand crafted bottle signed by the distiller who made it. 

Try Something Uniquely Virginia

Virginia bottles tell a story of the land and its crops, just as much as the producers behind it. All across the state, distillers are taking corn, rye, barley and many other ingredients right from their own backyard or from nearby farmers; turning these local crops into world-class spirits. 

Some are even using local methods to distill and finish their products – take, for example, Waterman Spirits who uses coral off the nearby coast to filter its organic line of vodka. 


Did you know Virginia distilleries produce more than 175 different types and styles of spirits? Visit our website and sort by spirit type if you have a specific Virginia Spirit in mind. Happy gift giving!