Charlottesville may be better known for its wineries and breweries, but in recent years, craft distilleries have been cropping up faster than college kids take shots on Spring Break. You'll find locally distilled gin, rum, single malt whiskey and more at tasting rooms in town and farther afield.
Vitae Spirits Distillery uses a custom-built copper pot still and stores its spirits in stainless steel, wood and glass to ensure delicate botanical origins are preserved. There are two downtown tasting rooms where you can try the rum, liqueurs and gin.
Single-malt whiskey and gin are the specialties of Spirit Lab Distilling, a craft distillery in downtown Charlottesville. You can do more than just taste, too. You can take a one-day crash course in whiskey distilling and start bootlegging at home!
If bourbon’s your pleasure, Ragged Branch Distillery, about 20 minutes west of Charlottesville, is where you’ll want to be. All the grain used is grown on land owned or leased by Ragged Branch and is milled on-site every day. You can also feast on Ragged Branch bourbon beef, from cattle raised on the property.
You might not guess it from the name, but Silverback Distillery is the only mother-daughter distilling duo in the country. You’ll find unique spirits like the citrus-forward Strange Monkey Gin, honey-liqueur infused Blackback Rye Whiskey and the butterscotch Blackback Bourbon.
Furthest from Charlottesville in Lovingston, about a 40-minute drive, Virginia Distillery Co. is worth the trip. They’re all about whiskey, and their Courage and Conviction American single malt whiskey is award-winning.