News

The History of Catoctin Creek - Mash and Grain

Mash and Grain did a really lovely, comprehensive history of Catoctin Creek, dating back to before the distillery when Becky and Scott first met.  It covers the seeds of entrepreneurship that led to its ultimate establishment.  This is the most in-depth article written to date on our story, and contains intimate details on our thinking before the venture even formed:

Scott and Becky, circa 1991Distilleries require an incredible amount of upfront investment, so the loan certainly helped, but Scott and Becky were also pouring their entire life savings into this venture. In order to be licensed in Virginia, a distillery needed to have already purchased all of their equipment, set it up, and tested it to make sure it functioned properly. That meant securing a commercial location, signing a lease, thousands upon thousands of dollars in equipment, all before they could legally make a single drop. ... With all this money invested up front, they had sacrificed so much with no guarantee that the two of them had what it would take to make it work. ... [For] Scott it was more about faith. Faith in themselves.

He recounts a story from just after they were approved for their loan. Scott used a new social media platform, Twitter, to announce they had the financing to start their distillery. Shortly after, he received a call from Emily Maltby, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal who was doing a story on SBA loans, and wanted to feature them to lend a human element to the piece.

We got into the Wall Street Journal. We hadn’t even made anything. We felt like we were ordained by God to do this. We could do no wrong. Of course it will be good if we make it, because it has to be. Why would we do all this trouble otherwise? That’s kind of the complex you have when you’re an entrepreneur. You’re just gonna go full steam ahead, because of course it will be good.” - Scott Harris

Divine intervention or not, their strict process backgrounds proved to be a big asset.

Becky inspecting the Virginia rye grainAfter a few years have passed, fast forwarding to present time, they write a little about how we do grain selection to create a mash bill of 100% rye:

Scott and Becky are proud to say that their rye grain comes from local Virginia farms, but when they were first starting out it was very difficult to find farmers who would grow grain for them. For the first 6 or 7 years, they had to rely on commercial mills where they had no control over the varietals they would receive. Now they do have a handful of local farms they work with. Their mash bill is 100% rye, but not all one varietal. Their farmers need to find varietals that work well for their land and climates, so the combination has changed from time to time. Whenever a farmer brings a new varietal to Becky, she distills one batch with 100% of that specific grain so she can evaluate it’s profile from a sensory standpoint to get an idea of how it may fit into their products. Once she has a sense of it’s character she will slowly start to incorporate it into the mashbill in small quantities to maintain a consistent flavor profile. For a company that mostly deals in single barrel releases, they are basically doing the blending at the front end of production, with each varietal lending complexity and diversity of flavor from the very beginning.

It is a wonderful long-form biography.  I hope you'll enjoy it. 

You can read the full article, here.

Latest News

Wine Enthusiast Top 100 of 2020: Roundstone Rye 92 Proof "Distiller's Editi…

We are delighted that Roundstone Rye 92 Proof "Distiller's Edition," which rated 94 points in January of this year, was selected for Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 of 2020!  In fact, we were the third highest rated rye whisky in the...

Read more

Barron's: 20 Minutes with Becky Harris

Barron's did a 20 minute Q&A with Becky Harris, our chief distiller and president, but also the president of the American Craft Spirits Association.  Jake Emen interviewed Becky for this piece: When you started the distillery, did you get a lot...

Read more

Wine & Country: Five Charming Places to Visit in Loudoun

Wine and Country recently did a story on five charming places to visit in Loudoun, and Purcellville featured on the list.  Douglas Rogers writes: If you prefer something stronger than tea, Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, the first Loudoun distillery since Prohibition...

Read more

Contact Us

Catoctin Creek Distillery

Catoctin Creek Distillery
120 W Main St
Purcellville, VA 20132

Tel (540) 751-8404


Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence

Virginia is for Lovers

Latest Events

Fred Minnick's Repeal Day Expo

DEC 5 Repeal Day Expo - Hosted by Fred Minnick! Dec. 5th, 12:00pm EST until... On December 5, we celebrate the Repeal of Prohibition. And because it's 2020, we will party like it's 1933...

Read more

Catoctin Creek Bingo!

NOW thru 2020 Catoctin Creek BINGO! For the rest of 2020... Catoctin Creek is happy to announce, Catoctin Creek BINGO!  Whether you live in the District or in Virginia, we have a game...

Read more

The Art of the Cocktail - The Online Class with Scott Harris

  JAN - FEB 8-12   Art of the Cocktail Class – 2nd time, we're still ONLINE! 7:00pm—9:00pm Catoctin Creek is pleased to present, our SEVENTH year of this six-part educational series on the art...

Read more