Last month, I discovered an unusual and super fun way to spend a Saturday morning…at Catoctin Creek Distillery, helping to bottle the latest batch of their popular Roundstone Rye with 20 fellow Catoctin Creek fans. Owners, Scott and Becky Harris had put out a call for bottling volunteers to their email list and Facebook friends, and the free workshop sold out within hours.
We worker bees each took a turn at labeling, working the “milking machine” (frenetic fun!), capping, and sealing the bottles, while Scott watched over us and inspected, and Becky crated and kept inventory. We were given Sharpies and wrote fun messages to customers on the labels, and set aside bottles that we’d had a hand in, to purchase later as great holiday gifts.
The morning closed with a tasting. My favorite was the Watershed Gin, spicy and complex. Even though I typically think of gin as a summer drink, this one would be great in winter cocktails like a holiday gin & tonic with rosemary or winter gimlet. And check out Catoctin Creek’s website for their own winter cocktail recipes, like the Nutella Whisky Dream or the Adult-Time Cider, which I made the other night…delicious!
Becky and Scott have been running Catoctin Creek for four years now, and were just named Loudoun County 2012 Small Business of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in November. Not to rest on their laurels, they’re excited about their new expansion. They’re moving to a new facility in a few months…from their current industrial park home outside of Purcellville to a historic building in the quaint old town. They’ll have a tasting room and lots more space for distilling and warehousing, as well as a prime location for foot traffic.
I’m really impressed with how well they’re running their business: slow and steady growth; reaching out to niche markets (organic, kosher); and inviting customers like me to help them get the job done, which also creates incredible good will (you can bet I’ll be back!). What a great role model for small wineries, breweries and ciderworks in our area. Bottling workshops take place monthly, so if you want in on the fun, like them on Facebook, and keep an eye out for the next notice. But don’t linger, because it’s sure to fill up quickly!
This post also just ran on Foodshed magazine’s blog page