Virginia is still quite young in its distilling efforts compared to many other parts of the world, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t produced some world-class products. There are more than 30 distilleries that offer tours around the Commonwealth, and with relaxed tasting laws and renewed interest in local spirits, that number will almost certainly continue going up. Learn about the history of the distilling process, tour the grounds, and sample some of the resulting spirits when you visit one of these thirteen Virginia distilleries.
VIRGINIA DISTILLERY COMPANY—LOVINGSTON
Photo Credit: Tom Daly
Opened in 2011, Virginia Distillery Company began as a passion project for native Irishman Dr. George Moore, who wanted to bring the secrets of Irish distilling to Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Today, his son, Gareth Moore, helms the venture, producing Single Malt Whisky as well as cask-finished Virginia-Highland Whisky. The newly opened Visitors Center is all about old-world luxury; the exterior looks more like an elegant Virginia farmhouse than a business, and leather chairs arranged around the stone fireplace inside provide a comfortable place to sip on smooth whisky. Head to the bar to taste a few of their specialty seasonal cocktails, made using products sourced from local farmers and businesses, then take a tour of the facility to learn about the origins of Single Malt Whisky and how it is made.
Situated along bubbling springs in a house dating back to 1842, you’ll enjoy a tour, tasting, and idyllic country-living relaxation at this beloved Southern Virginia distillery. All of Springfield’s spirits are distilled with locally-sourced ingredients, and include a lineup of bourbon, whiskey and flavored whiskeys. Grab a bottle of the Maple Syrup flavored whiskey and craft a brunch-inspired cocktail at home, or try the Springfield 1842 Aged Whiskey, which is aged in a port barrel from a local Virginia winery to create a “smooth, unique bourbon style finish.” Added bonus: stay a while by booking one of Springfield’s cabins– Hunter’s Retreat or Mason’s Chapel–offering rustic charm and a peaceful retreat.
HILL TOP DISTILLERY—MAIDENS
Nestled on a hilltop overlooking the James River, Hill Top Distillery is a true family affair: mother, father, and son are all distillers crafting incredible spirits that can be enjoyed alone or blended in cocktails. Named a Top Five Whiskey Distillery by the U.S. Open Whiskey and Spirits Championship, Hill Top is distilling award-winning spirits that are catching the attention of whiskey enthusiasts nationwide. Be sure to try the Hill Top Straight Bourbon Whiskey Single Barrel, Barrel Proof 118 which recently took home a Silver Medal in the 2022 ADI International Spirits Competition. Or for something a little more unique, sip the Lemon Drop Gooch Hooch Moonshine for flavors of sweet summer lemonade with a kick.
TARNISHED TRUTH—VIRGINIA BEACH
The glamorous and historic Cavalier Hotel and Beach Club is home to Tarnished Truth, the first and only distillery in a hotel in the United States. With more than 40 years of experience under his belt, legendary master distiller Larry Ebersold leads the team at Tarnished Truth to create world class spirits just steps away from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The distillery sits in the original laundry facility for the hotel, and is flanked by an on-site gift shop and the famous Hunt Room restaurant, where you can sip a Tarnished Truth cocktail while noshing on elevated bar snacks, such as Duck Flatbread with house duck prosciutto, pears, arugula, and bleu cheese crumbles.
BELLE ISLE CRAFT SPIRITS—RICHMOND
Located in the bustling and up-and-coming Manchester district of Richmond, Belle Isle Craft Spirits’ recently-opened tasting room is a welcome addition for spirits lovers in RVA. Belle Isle offers up to four ½ oz. complimentary (yes, free!) tastings of its premium moonshine and infusions, and you can also shop their entire line of products and merch on-site. With unique and inventive flavors such as Yuzu Ginger, Strawberry Matcha and Honey Habanero, there’s a little something for every taste bud. Bonus: PSL lovers will rejoice over Belle Isle Pumpkin Pie, which combines award-winning moonshine with real pumpkin and a blend of warm spices to create a “rich and cozy infusion inspired by grandma’s homemade pie.”
Belle Isle also recently launched a new cocktail, The Gold Fashioned, a shimmery, modern take on a classic cocktail. It’s a delicious, ready-to-drink cocktail made with bourbon barrel-aged premium moonshine, bitters and subtle notes of cherry and orange. A cheeky touch of edible glitter inside the new 375ml size bottle makes it even more fun.
Silverback is the only mother-daughter distiller duo in the country crafting high-quality and award-winning spirits– but the family ties don’t stop there. Christine Riggleman, CEO and Master Distiller, comes from a long line of women with a knack for distilling. Her great-grandmother, known as Great-Grammy, made bathtub gin before World War I. Today, her tasting room is located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains and welcomes locals and visitors alike to enjoy some sophisticated spirits. From the citrus-forward Strange Monkey Gin to the “ultimate butterscotch bomb” Blackback Bourbon, you’ll be sure to find a sip of something you’ll love at Silverback.
Photo Credit: Halle Kennon
Although the vodka has been in production since 2004, Cirrus Vodka only recently opened their Richmond tasting room, allowing visitors to taste the namesake product that has won numerous medals in prestigious competitions. A tour of the facility gives you an up-close look at their state-of-the-art steel and copper still, and after you’ve seen how they make it, head back out to the tasting room where professional bartenders will whip up a few craft cocktail examples using the potato-based vodka. The Cirrus Vodka tasting room is conveniently located, just around the corner from Richmond staples like Buzz & Ned’s and Hardywood Brewery.
COPPER FOX DISTILLERY—SPERRYVILLE
Photo Credit: Aubrey Griffin
Copper Fox Distillery opened in Sperryville in January 2005, followed by a second Williamsburg location that opened in 2016. The distillery is primarily known for their small batch whisky, but they also produce gin and a few other specialty whisky products. They are open daily, with free tours of the property available on the half hour during business hours, and tastings consist of your choice of four products for a small fee.
GEORGE WASHINGTON’S DISTILLERY & GRISTMILL—MOUNT VERNON
Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson
Located on the Mount Vernon estate, George Washington’s Distillery & Gristmill sat vacant for almost 200 years, but with a renewed interest in the art of distilling, the property was able to reconstruct the original site and produce spirits once again. The historic location is the only North American distillery that demonstrates 18th century techniques for distilling, showing visitors the entire process from the grains to the barrel. Period interpreters bring the distillery to life with guided tours, highlighting Washington’s vision for America’s future in the world of distilling.
BONDURANT BROTHERS DISTILLERY—CHASE CITY
During Prohibition, the Bondurant Brothers were notorious moonshine runners in Franklin County, Virginia, with their feats immortalized in the 2012 Hollywood film “Lawless”. Eighty years later, the grandson of Jack Bondurant took over the family business in a legal capacity, opening Bondurant Brothers Distillery to allow outsiders to taste what made his grandfather’s moonshine so timeless. Learn about how moonshine is made, hear the legendary story of the Bondurant Brothers, and taste some of their famous moonshine when you visit the Chase City distillery.
DAVIS VALLEY DISTILLERY—RURAL RETREAT
A small-batch distillery in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, Davis Valley Distillery uses locally-grown grains and fruits in their process, producing an array of spirits including vodka, moonshine, and whisky. Their fruit moonshines provide a taste of the South, with flavors like apple pie, cherry, peach, and strawberry. The distillery is the second business for the owners of Davis Valley Winery and Vineyard, located just next door, so you can tour and taste both in a single day.
CHESAPEAKE BAY DISTILLERY—VIRGINIA BEACH
Opened in 2005, Chesapeake Bay Distillery creates rum and vodka products, like their spicy Ghost Pepper Vodka. The combined distillery and tasting room is just a few blocks from the oceanfront in the ViBe Creative District of Virginia Beach, with tons of restaurants and shops within walking distance. The tasting room is open select hours Wednesday through Sunday, and visit the distillery on Saturdays between 12pm and 4pm for a tour that will teach you how their spirits are made.
A. SMITH BOWMAN DISTILLERY—FREDERICKSBURG
From still to bottle, A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg walks you through the barrel-aging bourbon process. In addition to a spirits museum, the distillery offer complimentary tours on the hour and are open Monday through Saturday. During your tour, you’ll learn all about A. Smith Bowman, a farmer in the 1930s that decided to use excess grains to start a distillery after Prohibition was repealed. His family has continued the tradition over several generations, and the results speak for themselves, with Whisky Magazine naming two of their products as the best bourbons in the world.
Looking for more distilleries to visit in Virginia? Find tasting rooms in every corner of the state that produce whisky, vodka, gin, and more.
Great article! I will be moving to the area this spring and will be putting this on my list.