Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, home of the Virginia Rye Whisky, inaugurates #RyeJanuary for their UK launch in January 2021
In Loudoun County, in the north of Virginia, lush plains and meandering rivers work their way down rolling hills from snow-peaked mountains to Purcellville where Catoctin Creek Distilling Company sits on Main Street. This is the home to Virginia’s most-awarded whisky that embodies the very essence of the birthplace of American whisky in 1607.
The craft distillery made a name for itself as the first legal distillery in Loudoun County to open since Prohibition and respects their incredible history by using pre-Prohibition methods to create their award winning Roundstone Rye. The whisky is available at ten retailers including Masters of Malt, The Whisky Exchange and Native Spirits priced from £37 (rrp).
This small-scale pre-Prohibition distillation method of using home-sized pot stills, local grain and family recipes, has benefited from the incorporation of modern knowledge and technology resulting in over one hundred awards and accolades for their Roundstone Rye available in three editions of 80 Proof, Distiller’s Edition 92 Proof and Cask Proof.
Roundstone Rye has a delicious woody taste, with notes of caramel, rich butter toffee, with a hint of lemon in the nose. Ageing in new charred white oak casks gives the whisky the smooth woody note and a true grain character of a traditional American rye whisky. It is superb in Manhattans or your favourite rye whisky cocktails as well as superb for sipping.
Catoctin Creek Distilling Company is inviting those not taking part in Dry January to join them to celebrate the inaugural Rye January to mark the UK launch and their strong links to Prohibition. Throughout the month consumers are invited to a virtual Virginia via the Catoctin Creek website through specially filmed guided tastings, a potted history of Virginia, Rye, and the Prohibition, a virtual tour of the distillery or enjoying a sip while listening to a curated #RyeJanuary Spotify playlist.
A sip of Roundstone Rye is truly a sip of the essence of Virginia; it starts with local Virginia grain, always made from 100% rye, that is mashed and fermented on site then distilled in copper pot stills before being aged in new charred Virginia oak barrels soaking up the bucolic Virginia climate while it develops flavour from the barrel. The final ingredient, natural Virginia spring water, is used to proof the whisky before bottling and adds another key piece of terroir in the form of limestone and minerals in the water into the spirit. The result is a rye whisky that is authentically made using tradition and the finest agriculture that Virginia offers.
Three varieties of Roundstone Rye
Roundstone Rye 80 Proof
Catoctin Creek’s most popular whisky. Delicious mixed, on the rocks, or neat.
Suggested retail price £37 per bottle.
40% ABV, 700 ml
Roundstone Rye® Distiller’s Edition 92 Proof
Only one in every ten barrels gets selected to be in the Roundstone Rye “92 Proof” whisky. This whisky is the culmination of several years of planning. “For a few years now, we’ve been putting whisky away for storage,” remarked Becky Harris, Chief Distiller and President of Catoctin Creek Distilling Company. “We pulled some of the more interesting barrels from the back of the barn and decided to release these at a higher proof: a whisky specially curated for flavour, while still being remarkably smooth, as is our existing 80 proof Roundstone.”
Suggested retail price £55 per bottle.
46% ABV, 700 ml
Roundstone Rye® Cask Proof
“The most awarded whisky and the best we make!” says Scott Harris, Founder and General Manager of Catoctin Creek.
The cask proof version of the ever-popular Roundstone Rye is a very special expression. Released at approximately 58% ABV (it varies depending on the individual barrels), this is seriously strong whisky! Delicious, dark, complex and ridiculously smooth for the proof, Roundstone Rye Cask Proof is released only about twice per year. Cask proof releases are announced about a month in advance.
Suggested retail price £85 per bottle.
58% ABV, 700 ml
Availability in UK
Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye is available from: Masters of Malt, The Whisky Exchange, Native Spirits, Urban Drinks, Southport Whisky, The Little Whisky Shop , Spirit Specialist, Vinovero, Dram Good Drinks, Drink Specialist.
About Catoctin Creek Distilling Company
Located in Purcellville, Loudoun County, located in the north of Virginia, the distillery is surrounded by lush plains and meandering rivers that work their way down rolling hills from snow-peaked mountains.
The distillery is owned by husband and wife Scott and Becky Harris since its founding in 2009 and produces seasonal releases and private cask offerings for their whisky, gin and seasonal brandy all made from local grains and fruits. The spirits are available in 27 states and 3 continents.
Web & Links
How To Say Catoctin
The name “Catoctin” is a regional name. Pronounced Ka-TOCK-tin, the name derives from the Indian tribal name “Kittocton” which, legend has it, meant “place of many deer”. Catoctin describes a range of mountains and the eponymous creek which flows picturesquely past the distillery and into the Potomac River and Chesapeake Watershed.
The History of Rye, by Scott Harris
“When colonists came to America, the first permanent British settlement was Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Immediately, during that time, colonists started making whisky from local grain, most famously (but not exclusively) by George Thorpe.
The style of distillation at this time was necessarily small scale… small home-sized pot stills using local grain and family recipes. Today, we would call this “craft” but back then, it was just one of the necessary items on the family homestead or farm. Ref: Every Home a Distillery So the whisky of that time, predominantly made from rye – the local grain – was influenced by region, terroir and local practices. Ref: The Practical Distiller (1804) by Samuel McHarry. As a town-person, you could take your horse to a local farm and buy jars of whisky. This was common across the state on the small farm and home scale in the 1700s. That is why we refer to Virginia as the birthplace of American whiskey (well before the dawn of bourbon). In fact, when people started distilling corn into bourbon in what is today Kentucky, that land was part of Virginia! Kentucky didn’t become a state until 1792. So, we are cheeky to say it, but Virginia is also the birthplace of Bourbon! Elijah Craig was born and raised in Virginia.
Before the revolutionary war, the most common spirit consumed in the colonies was RUM. This was due to the high levels of trade between Great Britain, the Caribbean, and the colonies. (Sadly, enslaved people being part of this trade along with rum.) Everyone drank rum, and lots of it. But when the colonies rebelled against Great Britain, and won the revolution, King George III cut off his supply of sugar and rum from the Caribbean. No more rum. This led to a huge, and industrial-sized growth in the next ten years of rye whiskey. In places like Maryland and Pennsylvania, rye whiskey became big factory productions, and became the dominant spirit of the mid-Atlantic region, including Virginia. After the revolution, General George Washington, now retired from the presidency, established a distillery on his farm at Mount Vernon in Virginia, not far from Washington DC. Washington had been, ironically, responsible for quelling the whisky rebellion in western Pennsylvania, a rebellion caused by the new national government establishing a new liquor excise tax to pay for the debt caused by the revolutionary war. The rebellion was quelled, but Washington now had the distilling bug in his blood. He would found the largest commercial distillery during his lifetime, producing predominantly rye whisky.
As we passed into the 1800’s, the cocktail was invented (1804 is the first documented recipe for a “whisky cocktail”, later called the “old fashioned whisky cocktail” and later still, called simply the “old fashioned.”). The 1800’s saw a huge boom in cocktails and whisky consumption, dominated mostly by the elite bartenders in New York City – and again, the key whiskey ingredient in those Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, etc. was RYE whiskey, not bourbon. Rye was king on the east coast all the way until Prohibition.
And then Prohibition wiped it all out. 1920-1933 is a long time for industry to survive a total and complete ban on its existence. Before Prohibition, there were over 30 large factory distilleries in Pennsylvania alone. After Prohibition, there were none. And none until the first ones established around 2009! 76 years of nothing.
Until 2009, until Catoctin Creek Distillery.”