Distillery Will Soon Be Able to Make Virginian Whisky - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Distillery Will Soon Be Able to Make Virginian Whisky

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A distillery under construction in Nelson County is starting the New Year in high spirits.

The owners of Virginia Distillery Company expect to finish construction on their new facility off Route 29 and fire up the stills to bottle their first batch of Virginia-made, single malt whisky in time for your next new year's party. So far, they have aged imported whisky but have yet to make it from scratch.

Dan FitzHenry, the company's director of sales, says he's been a "whisky nerd" ever since he was able to drink. For him, describing the drink is easy.

"It's very deep, complex," he said. "Dark chocolate, deep raspberry and raisin notes…"

He was referring Virginia Distillery Company's first product, Virginia Highland Malt Whisky, hoping to convince restaurants and bars to buy bottles of it.

"Here in central Virginia, we're in bourbon country," FitzHenry said.

The distillery imported Scottish whisky, and aged it three months last summer in port wine barrels from an Orange County vineyard.

"To make it our own, we wanted to find a way to round out the flavor profile, transform the whisky from a Scottish whisky into something that was finished here in Virginia," FitzHenry said.

Virginia Distillery Company President John McCray says "it was born in Scotland, but raised in Virginia."

The whisky will become native to Virginia. The company is currently in the final weeks of finding financing to get its custom-built Lovingston facility up and running. With that, it would be able to fire up its Scottish-crafted stills and begin brewing 100 percent, Virginia-made, single malt whisky.

"We've been able to get it to all come together to where we're 9 to 12 months away from that dream becoming a reality," McCray said.

FitzHenry describes the company's dream product as a subtle spirit with flavors that put central Virginia on the map for more than wines.

"Our Virginia Highland malt really stands up to some of the bigger names out there, so we're very proud with how the whisky came out," FitzHenry said.

The Virginia Highland single malt whisky is now on sale in 80 Virginia ABC stores and is being sold at 10 Charlottesville bars.

The company got special legislation passed in the last General Assembly session to allow tastings and sales at the distillery when it opens.

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