by Ben Swenson
Gov. Ralph Northam was among a group of state officials, distillers and historic interpreters who gathered at George Washington’s Distillery on Thursday to kick off September Virginia Spirits Month. The Virginia Distillers Association (VDA) sponsored the event.
The distillery, part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, is a historical reproduction of an operation owned by the founding father and run by free and enslaved men who worked for him. It makes and sells whiskey using historical methods and is one of more than 50 craft distilleries in Virginia.
Northam joked that he couldn’t be sure what the political landscape was like in Washington’s day, “but politics in 2019 is enough to make a man want to take a drink.”
Fans of local craft spirits have a lot to celebrate this September, which is the fourth annual Virginia Spirits Month. On Thursday, September 5, ten Virginia-made spirits will be discounted at Virginia ABC stores statewide, one of several promotions offered throughout the month.
The VDA will also host three Virginia Craft Spirits Road Shows, giving attendees the opportunity to taste local spirits and meet the distillers behind the labels.
Virginia Tourism Corporation officials also took the occasion to launch the Virginia Spirits Trail and Passport Program, which features 28 distilleries around the commonwealth and offers a free t-shirt for participants who visit 10 of them.
Many people consider Virginia to be the birthplace of American spirits. The year 2020 will mark 400 years since Englishman George Thorpe brewed an early version of corn whiskey at what’s now Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County.
To learn more, visit the Virginia Distillers Association at VirginiaSpirits.org, and Virginia ABC at abc.virginia.gov.