Here are the drinks that won our 2021 Made in Virginia awards.
Black Chevron Vodka
(Three Cross Distillation: at Powhatan)
For the Davenports, their 80-degree vodka was high on their wish list from the start. “When we were crafting products before the distillery opened, several people asked us to make vodka,” says Michelle, one of Virginia’s few female distillers. Boasting a crisp and clean slate, this spirit should be at the top of every bartender’s list.
Kali Hibiscus Gin
(Virago Spirits: in Richmond)
Brothers Barry, Bart and Brad Haneberg say Virago Spirits focuses on “misunderstood and forgotten” spirits, such as rum, brandy and gin, many of which have historical ties to Virginia. The Hanebergs use a French pot still to make nuanced and sophisticated products, then create variations by aging them in finishing casks, sometimes swapping used casks with other producers to layer the flavors. Kali is an alternative version of Virago’s gin designed “to appeal to adventurous consumers”, says Brad. “Hibiscus and orange are a classic combination in spirits, and…we weren’t shy about hibiscus or orange peel, but we think the resulting product is visually stunning and quite unusual.” Kali adds complex flavor and gorgeous holiday color to any cocktail.
3 Contraband Lemonade Boxed Whiskey Cocktail
(MurLarkey Distilled Spirits: in Bristow)
Founded in 2015 by cousins Tom Murray and Mike and Jim Larkin, MurLarkey Distilled Spirits was named the No. 4 distillery in the country by Travel + Leisure this year. MurLarkey recently introduced canned cocktails, “the first of their kind, as far as we know,” says social media coordinator Josh Luckenbaugh. MurLarkey switched from cans to boxes last year when demand for eco-friendly packaging coincided with a shortage of aluminum cans. Luckenbaugh calls the boxes “greener and easier to enjoy.” The first offering, Bootlegged Lemonade, features MurLarkey’s popular Lemon Whiskey mixed with all-natural lemonade. Bootlegged Tea (Three Tea Whiskey and Lemonade) and Bootlegged Cider (Cinnamon Whiskey and Apple Cider) are coming soon. Plus, look for MurLarkey’s first bourbon, called Birthright™, later this year.
(Jefferson Vineyards: in Charlottesville)
Jefferson Vineyards has dedicated almost a quarter of its vineyard to Viognier vines (from a white grape native to the northern Rhône region of France) and has produced multiple iterations over the past 20 years. Their 2019 edition is masterfully crafted, with a bouquet of peach, apricot and lychee that gives way to vibrant acidity, followed by peach and pineapple on the palate, before a round and long floral finish. Viognier won a double gold medal at the 2020 San Francisco International Wine Competition, among other national awards.
(Catoctin Cruisseau: in Purcellville)
Internationally acclaimed metal band GWAR have been into mind-games since opening their own hipster bar in Richmond’s Jackson Ward neighborhood in 2015. But things got awfully serious when they teamed up with the Purcellville’s Catoctin Creek distillery to create Ragnar k Rye (that’s Old Norse for “The Fate of the Gods”). The 92-proof whiskey is aged in new charred white oak, then sugar maple and cherry.
“It’s an exciting release, but we were quite surprised when GWAR showed up at our distillery,” said Catoctin Creek Founder and Managing Director Scott Harris. “We had to constantly watch them to stop them breaking things, and they even tried to eat our dog, Otto. The only way to get them to leave was if they agreed to bottle their whiskey for them.
2013 Bone Orchard
(Horton Vineyards: in Gordonsville)
Some time ago, Horton Vineyards made port-style wine using tannat grapes, intending to blend it with the company’s Vintage Port; tannat is often used to add color, tannins and structure to other wines. However, something went incredibly well with the lot, and after it aged for six years, the family “found these two barrels to be exceptional and felt they should be presented on their own,” the manager said. General Shannon Horton.
The result is Bone Orchard, a soft, rich and not too sweet dessert wine with dark fruit and chocolate notes. In 2019, National Wine Review named it one of Virginia’s Best Port Style Wines. Part of winemaker Caitlin Horton’s steampunk range, each hand-numbered, limited-edition bottle features a metal image of the cellar’s entrance doors.
(Revalation Vineyards: in Madison)
Since 2014, Françoise Seillier-Moiseiwitsch and her husband, Julian, of Revalation Vineyards, have crafted a variety of award-winning wines in Madison County’s scenic Hebron Valley, including their signature “Verjus” (green juice in French), an acidic, non-alcoholic juice used in gourmet cooking that is gaining popularity in the United States due to its versatility and flavor profile.
Verjuice is produced by pressing unripe (green) grapes. The slight acidity formed by the low sugar content allows the juice to have a fresh and tangy flavor that adds zest to sauces, dressings and marinades, without overpowering other delicate flavors, making Verjus a valuable product for chefs and mixologists. Revalation Vineyards sells Virginia’s only verjuice.
$32 for 1 liter, RevaluationVineyards.com
Virginia Hewes Crab Single Varietal 2020
(Big Fish Cider Co. in Monterey)
A cider maker for 28 years, including the last six in the business, Kirk Billingsley says he makes cider professionally the same way he did at home, using only fermented apple juice. Big Fish Cider Co. owner and “chief cider evangelist,” Billingsley, says his Virginia Hewes Crab Single Varietal Dry Cider “was born out of inadvertence. I have never been a fan of single-varietal ciders. That is, until I ferment this apple. I pressed this juice from 100% Virginia apples for fermentation in 2019. It was supposed to go into a blend of other apples, but the depth of flavor and intensity fascinated me, and I felt like I had to bottle this strain on its own to showcase its excellent qualities.
Shenandoah Blue Tea
(Dominion tea: in Purcellville)
Hillary and David Coley founded Dominion Tea in 2013. “We both love the product and its story. Delivering a great product to customers requires travel and strong relationships across Asia and Africa, and that’s the challenge of building a brand that retail consumers and wholesale customers love,” says Hillary. In Dominion Tea’s tasting room, customers can “explore tea, learn where it comes from, how it’s produced, and find the right teas based on their preferences and experience,” she says. A longtime favorite, Shenandoah Blue is a smooth blend of black tea, blue cornflowers, and dried blueberries inspired by native Virginia blueberries and named after the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Colombia Las Brisas Whole Bean Coffee
(Grit Coffee: in Richmond)
Richmond Grit Coffee started with a vision, a little grit and a lot of grit. Today, their journey has taken them to six stores (and counting), a massive roasting operation, and a thriving e-commerce business. Colombia Las Brisas de Grit whole bean coffee embodies the roaster’s philosophy of premium quality, freshness and the best ingredients, sourced from a group of nearly 50 growers in Rioblanco, Colombia, famous for its rugged mountains, abundant and its deep valleys. This relationship allows Grit to source green coffee at a fixed price over the long term. With notes of lemon candy, almond and cocoa powder, Grit’s Las Brisas is a perfectly balanced infusion.
Starts at $16 for 12 oz. GritCoffee.com