I was surprised upon arriving in the Old Dominion to find that Virginia is a serious wine-making state, possibly even comparable to New York. Today, I found, in the Atlantic, this article by Clay Risen on Rick Wasmund, described as a “rogue tinkerer” and “mad scientist” who is bent upon hand-crafting an American single malt whiskey beneath the shadow of the Blue Ridge, deep in the wilds of Rappahannock County.
(Since 2006, Wasmund has been) working in his basement on crazy inventions no one understands and no one expects to work. Until one day they do.
Wasmund is the owner, and just about the only employee, of the Copper Fox Distillery, a microscopic outfit nestled against the Shenandoah Mountains in Sperryville, Va. The operation was born from Wasmund’s dream to create a Scotch-style whiskey in the States (Scotch has to come from Scotland to bear the name). Wasmund is not alone: A half-dozen craft distillers, mostly on the West Coast, are churning out malt whiskeys, and most are faithful versions of their Highland brethren.
But Wasmund didn’t just want to recreate a style; he wanted to revolutionize it. Instead of aging the whiskey in barrels, letting the wood flavors seep into the liquor over years and years, Wasmund figured he could get unique results much more quickly–six months–by steeping a teabag of woodchips in the distillate, and that doing so would give him unique control over his whiskey’s flavor profile. …
Wasmund’s is getting better with each batch. Wasmund continues to improve his skills and process. And skepticism is turning into grudging appreciation; liquor sellers who two years ago told me Wasmund was on a fool’s errand are now saying he could be the next big thing, nationally.
Sounds interesting to me.